1894 Plat Book of Morgan County Illinois
1894 Plat Book of Morgan County Illinois
"Statistics of the Population of Morgan County By Townships, With Abstract of Agricultural Productions"
Cleveland J. Salter was born in the city of New Haven, Connecticut, July 7th, 1795. His father, Daniel (who was blind from his youth), with his wife, Sarah, and the two oldest children, John and Rebecca, left their native place of Devonshire, England, in 1794, and settled in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. Here his son Cleveland attained his manhood. And through the Divine blessing and the influence of Christian parents, formed a moral character which has been so ornamental to its possessor, and so valuable to all over whom his influence in after life has been exerted. In early life, with his father's family, he was connected with the Episcopal church, and held that connection until 1824, when he became a member of the Congregational church, in which, as an active member, he remains to this time. His first business engagement in early life was with Wm. McCracken, in a dry goods house where he remained until 1820, being a partner the last three years. He then engaged with Wm. H. Elliott, in the firm of Elliott & Salter. He continued the copartnership in dry goods for three years, when he became sole proprietor, and continued the business until 1837. In the meantime, in 1834, he made a tour, mostly by stage, through a portion of Illinois, visiting Jacksonville, Quincy, and other places. He was acquainted with President Sturtevant, Edward Beecher, and other prominent citizens of the county at that time.
In 1835, on the recommendation of a friend residing in Jacksonville, he made an investment in land, where Waverly now stands, of about 5,000 acres, Messrs. D. B. Salter, Alexander C. Twining, and Jos. A. Tanner, having with him about one-half interest. In 1836, these proprietors laid out the village of Waverly, donating a capacious public square, and also six hundred and forty acres of land near the village for educational purposes. They erected a school house and boarding house, at an aggregate expense of nearly $5,000. In the early history of our State this was one of the prominent high schools, and was attended by many who have since become prominent in the history of the State; such as Generals Cook, Lippincott, John Lamb, and others, who have a tender remembrance of the "Waverly Teachers' Institute."
Mr. Salter was married in New Haven, May 10, 1818, to Miss Susan, daughter of Captain Eliakim Benham. By this union he had two children, Julia R. and Mary L., both born February 14th 1819. Julia R. was the former wife of the late Wm. Holmes, and Mary L. was the former wife of the late Charles R. Wells. These daughters are both residing in New Haven, Connecticut. His first wife departed this life October 14th, 1820, and he was again married to Miss Eliza, daughter of Daniel Colton, of Hartford, Connecticut, December 28th, 1824. He had children by this union in the following order of birth, viz: Elizabeth and Matilda, who both died in early life. John C., born June 30th, 1830, now residing with his father, and conducting the farm at home; Charles C., who was a graduate of Yale College, where he was for two years a teacher. He was chaplain of the 13th regiment Connecticut Infantry during the late rebellion, and is at this time pastor of the Congregational church at Duluth, on Lake Superior. His youngest daughter, Bessie, is the present wife of Dr. Charles Ives, one of the most distinguished physicians of our day, who is now engaged as lecturer in the Medical Department of Yale College. Mr. Salter moved his family to Waverly in 1837, where he has since resided, devoting his time to farming and improving his property. Mr. Salter has no relatives of his name in this country. A cousin, who was captured with the Peacock, in 1812, called on him in New Haven. He was the father of the noted Captain Edward Lott, of the Cunard line, who has made over four hundred trips across the Atlantic without accident.
The example of his upright life, his warm benevolence, coupled with
his earnest efforts in behalf of religion, his devoted labors to advance
the intelligence and well-being of his race, are among his many Christian
virtues; all of which are duly appreciated by those with whom he is acquainted.
Rev. William D. Sanders, D.D., Principal of the "Young Ladies' Athenaeum," has been closely associated in a prominent position for a number of years past with the educational interests of Illinois, and is, both by his established high reputation and the merit of the novel and admiral system of tuition introduced by him in the institution named, entitled to more than a mere passing notice.
Mr. Sanders is a native of Huron county, Ohio, a son of the celebrated surgeon, Dr. M. C. Sanders, and graduated at the old Western Reserve College in 1845. The three years immediately following he spent in conducting the Richfield Academy in Summit county, Ohio, after which entered the Western Reserve Theological Seminary, to fit himself for the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. During the period of his theological studies the seminary passed through a severe financial crisis, and the trustees, recognizing his oratorical ability and indefatigable energy, prevailed upon him to act as their agent in obtaining funds, which were absolutely necessary to save the institution. The wisdom of their choice was shown by the fact that he succeeded in raising $100,000, a sum far in excess of their most sanguine expectations. Completing his theological studies in 1851, he as then assigned to the charge of a congregation at Ravenna, Ohio, where he remained for three years, until called to the chair of Rhetoric, Elocution, and English Literature in Illinois College, at Jacksonville, where he remained until June, 1869. IN 1864, recognizing the existence of serious evils in the system of female education generally in vogue in this country, Mr. Sanders founded the "Young Ladies' Athenaeum." This institution, early in its career, banished sectarianism. By its organic act of incorporation, it was determined that of its twenty-one trustees, not more than three should ever be members of the same religious denomination - thus confining the institution to those great elementary principles of Christianity held in common by all churches. In 1869, when Mr. Sanders resigned his professorship in Illinois College, the trustees of that institution expressed, by resolution, their admiration for "his talents, his culture, and his unsurpassed energy." These are the qualities which have rendered so successful his enterprise of the "Athenaeum." Mr. Sanders is a man of very positive character, of marked fidelity to principles, and during the late war took a prominent part on the side of the Union, doing good service by his eloquence and energy. He will long be remembered as the founder of the Athenaeum of Jacksonville. That admirable system of scholastic culture, emanating, as it did, from a man of high classical appreciation, great energy, and sound erudition, cannot fail to make its future a success. It was begun as an experiment to test a new method. It grew out of the conviction of the grave defects inseparable from the common system, and the belief that there is a better way. It aimed to be not merely one among many schools, but to be a better school than any known to us either west or east. It is a practical protest against the cast iron routine and superficialness of the accepted method. What was an experiment has long since become a demonstration. The Athenaeum is among the largest schools in the west, and numbers among its patrons many of the most intelligent, cultivated, and influential families of the city and surrounding country. When it is considered that it began its career in a region containing many schools, and in immediate proximity to two old institutions (the Methodist College and the Female Academy), and in temporary rooms, with few external or material attractions, this unprecedented success can be accounted for only upon the theory of the great and recognized superiority of the Athenaeum system over other methods. The following are among its chief peculiarities, viz: -
1. It prescribes no arbitrary and inflexible course of study. While it offers instruction in all the studies required in Yale or Harvard Colleges, it does not force the pupil to attempt the mastery of studies which she may have neither the talent, the time, nor the strength to master. Its higher English course embraces all studies of Yale or Harvard, except Latin or Greek. Its full classical course embraces all these, together with a good knowledge of Latin. But neither of these are required. It permits each pupil to take that special course, embracing many studies, or few, which is, all things considered, the best for her.
2. It classifies on a new system. It organizes no technical classes for recitation purposes. It puts together in each study those who are together, and who, in that study, can keep together. It thus puts each upon her own merits. The slow are not compelled to be superficial in order to go on with the quick, and the quick are not held back by the necessities of the slow. The time required to complete any course of study will thus depend entirely upon the pupil herself. The aim is an actual education, and not a sham; an absolute mastery of each topic, and not a mere going over it in a given time. It prefers home life to boarding school life. It locates its pupils from abroad in carefully selected families. Family influence is far more healthful to body and mind that any system which separates the pupil from contact with family and social life. The family is the nursery and sanctuary of all womanly excellence.
3. It is not sectarian. Its arrangements for instruction are unusual. Both in the number and qualifications of its teachers, it has few equals.
The Illinois Conservatory of Music. - The friends of sound musical education will be gratified to learn that arrangements have been made for the establishment, in Jacksonville, of a first class Musical Conservatory. The block is now in process of erection, and will be completed by the 10th of September. In addition to a hall for public rehearsals, soirees, and other musical entertainments, there will be rooms for teaching, commodious and pleasant, and well adapted to the uses of the institution.
The Influence of conservatories. - It is well known to those at all familiar with the subject, that the prominence of Italy, France and Germany, in "the divine art," is largely due to the influence exerted by the great European conservatories. The imperial and royal conservatories of Paris, of Brussels, of Leipsic, of Naples, and Milan, have been among the most potent of the influences which have inspired and sustained that love for the highest and best in musical art which has characterized these continental countries. Similar combinations of artists, for the same purpose, have recently been attempted in London and in Dublin, and with promising results. In our country, "the New England Conservatory" has been in operation some six years, and has been eminently successful. It is believed that Jacksonville is a peculiarly favorable point for the establishment of an institution that shall do for Illinois and the Great West what this institution has attempted for New England. Instruction is given in classes of two, three, or four each. This is not done to the exclusion of private lessons to individual pupils; but class instruction is a characteristic in all conservatories. By division of labor in the various departments of instruction, a conservatory secures to its pupils the highest order of skill in each department. It furnishes in each separate department of musical study the skill of an expert, of a teacher who has made some on instrument of some one department a special study. Thus (e.g.), in piano instruction, one professor may confine himself to technics or mechanism alone, and another may confine himself to style. Among the numerous teachers of a conservatory the pupil may thus find the excellence that he cannot expect to find all combined in any one professor. The conservatory thus affords the very best instruction on piano, or organ, or violin, or guitar, or flute, or cornet, or any other musical instrument, and the very best instruction in singing in all its departments. Class lessons operate as a powerful stimulus to the interests and ambition of each pupil. Experience on this point is a demonstration. Pupils trained in classes acquire a confidence in playing before others, and a steadiness and reliableness not so easily acquired by the usual method. Each pupil's knowledge and taste are cultivated by the criticism made upon other members of the class. As each minute error in technics, or in phrasing, or, in expression, is pointed out by the professor, the other members of the class are benefitted almost as much by the errors as by the success of the player. A conservatory affords ample facilities for the study of harmony and composition. A mastery of grammar is not more indispensable to the accomplished orator than the mastery of harmony is to one who would excel in music; it must underlie all sound musical culture. As a flourishing conservatory brings together a large number of musical students, it affords opportunities for valuable general exercises - exercises in reading at sight, in analysis of pieces, in glee singing, and in oratorio practice. A crowning characteristic method is its extraordinary cheapness. It brings the very highest order of instruction within the reach of those to whom it would otherwise be wholly inaccessible. Instruction, which in the great cities costs $4 or $5 per lesson, will here be furnished at a merely nominal cost. While, therefore, a conservatory offers to the wealthy the best advantages money can procure, it also offers to those of limited means these same advantages at a rate which brings them within the reach of the humblest. A common adjunct of a conservatory is a Department of Languages. So large a portion of the best musical literature is written in the Italian, French, and German languages, that a knowledge of these languages is very desirable to the musical student. There will therefore, be a department of languages, in which the best instruction will be furnished at a moderate cost.
Arrangements are completed and in progress which authorize the announcement that the ILLINOIS CONSERVATORY will begin its career with a corps of teachers competent to give the best instruction in singing and on the following instruments, viz: the piano, the organ, the violin, the viola, the violoncello, the flute, the guitar and the cornet and all other brass instruments. The artist secured as director of the conservatory received his musical education at the great Imperial Conservatory of Paris and in Vienna, and has himself had several years' experience in conservatory teaching. His first assistant will be an artist who is a Fellow of the London Royal Society of Musicians, whose favorite instrument is the coronet, but whose specialty has for several years been singing. A third professor has been secured who has had nearly twenty years' experience in teaching, and has an established reputation as a skillful and thorough teacher.
With these rare facilities for instruction, the Conservatory and
Athenaeum can but meet the wants of those desiring a thorough classical
finish, and the well known energy and ability of Professor Sanders is a
proof that the institution will, in the future, be attended with greater
success than it has in the past.
E. M. Sanford was born in Middlesex county, New Jersey, September 24, 1838. He is the second child of Elam and Jerusha Sanford. He came to Jacksonville in the spring of 1859, where for several years he was engaged in the marble business, in which he acquired a fine property. He was admitted to the bar in 1870, and to practice in Missouri. On the 4th of March, 1862, Mr. Sanford married Lizzie Gregory, daughter of John Gregory, of Jacksonville. They have had three children. In politics, Mr. Sanford is a republican, and during the war was a good Union man. He is now the law partner of Mr. Dun. A view of Mr. Sanford's residence is shown on another page of this work. As a lawyer, he is growing into prominence.
Hon. Edward Scott was born in Yorkshire, England, Mary 10th, 1828. He is the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth Scott, who emigrated to and settled in Morgan county, four miles west of Jacksonville, in December, 1830. On Christmas day of that year the "deep snow," so frequently spoken of by the old settlers, commenced falling. Mr. Scott had a family of five children, of which the subject of this sketch is the youngest. He died July 2, 1836, at his residence, on section 20, township 15, range 11, where he entered land, on which he resided until his death. His wife died, also, in June, 1847. Mr. Scott and his wife were members of the Episcopal church.
The subject of this sketch received his education in Morgan county. He followed farming until 1847, when he was next engaged for two years in completing his education. He engaged in a clerkship with Mr. T. C. Routt, in 1849, which he followed for three years. He established himself in a mercantile business in Jacksonville, in 1852, which he continued until September 15th, 1857. The next year he was appointed deputy sheriff, in which office he continued for two years, when he was elected sheriff, and filled that position two years. In February, 1864, he was engaged in the firm of Lambert & Scott, in a wholesale and retail grocery business, which he continued until the fall of 1869, when he was elected county judge, which official position he now holds.
Judge Scott is now engaged in banking interests, being a large stockholder
and president of the First National Bank, Jacksonville. He has been, politically,
thus far through life, a democrat. He warmly sustained the flag of our
country during the rebellion, by voluntarily putting a man in his place,
and other acts of patriotism. As the character of Judge Scott is so well
known, we will simply say that he is one of the pioneer citizens of Morgan
county, and stands conspicuous among the reliable business men of the community
in which he has lived and won the esteem of a large circle of friends by
his many virtues and noble qualities as a citizen.
Annanias D. Severe was born in Overton county, Tennessee, December 20, 1825. He was the son of Valentine Severe, who was known to many of the old settlers of Morgan county. He emigrated to this county at a very early period, and returned to Tennessee twice. The third time he came to the county was in 1834, and his son Annanias came with him, and has since been a continuous citizen of the county for thirty-eight years. He was married to Miss Camelia C. Gunnels, of Waverly precinct. By this union he has children in the following order of birth: Daniel A., Mary E., present wife of Henry Birch, of Sangamon county, Nancy E., John D., Charles Douglas, Nathan S., Harriet, William R., and Don Emanuel, all still living with their parents. Mr. Severe has followed farming as a vocation through life, except one year, in which he was in the service of his country in company G, of the first regiment Illinois Infantry (Col. John G. Hardin), during the Mexican war. He was one of our noble patriots, who, not wishing to know the historic fact, that, according to the regular rules of warfare, at Buena Vista they were whipped, but by mulish perseverance, came off victorious; thus proving the adage, that sometimes "ignorance is bliss." He was one of the participants and survivors of the most desperate conflict of that campaign. Mr. Severe is one of the energetic citizens who, by his energy, has done his part in making Morgan county what it is today - one of the finest agricultural counties in the state.
John Seymour was born in North Carolina, in 1800, where he remained till 1829, when, with his wife (he was previously married to Miss Sarah O. Bryant), he came to Morgan county, and settled on section 3, township 13, range 9, where he entered land. As a pioneer, he experienced many of the privations incident to settlement in a new country; but both he and Mrs. Seymour, by their energy and religious faith, not only succeeded in making a farm, but what is more to be admired, they raised a family the members of which are ornaments to society and members of the Christian church. The hallowed influence which Mr. Seymour and his pious and devoted wife have bequeathed to the community in which they lived, and died cannot be estimated by any standard of human calculation. Mr. Seymour died March 17, 1856, his wife following him April 12, 1861. His children, except the three oldest, were born in this county; they are: Jackson, residing near his father's former residence; Agnes, wife of John H. Austin, of Waverly; Robert J. residing on his father's old homestead; Mary, wife of John Hutchinson, of Waverly; Jazret, residing two miles east of Jacksonville; Henry M., in township 13, range 9; Mildred, present wife of John Woodman; Edward D., residing in township 13, range 9; and George W., residing in Jacksonville. All of Mr. Seymour's children, with their wives, are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which their devoted parents were, while living, active members.
Jeremiah Sibert was a native of Monroe county, Virginia, born June 26th, 1805. He was the seventh child of George and Susanna Sibert, who had a family of eight children; four of whom are still living. His occupation, while residing in Virginia, was farming. He was a native of Germany, who came to this country during the revolutionary war; after which he settled in the "Old Dominion," where he became acquainted with his wife, Miss Susanna Smith, whose line of ancestry was English. In 1818 he removed to Ohio, which, at that time, was in its incipiency as a state. He removed from Ohio in 1835, and settled in the present limits of Scott county, Illinois. Mrs. Sibert died, at their residence, January 12, 1838. Mr. Sibert died also in November, 1845. Through life he was a man of industrious habits, a marked trait which he transmitted to his children. In his political views, in the days of Jefferson he was a republican, and later in life he was a democrat.
Jeremiah Sibert, in his early life, was deprived of the advantages of a liberal education. He was thirteen years of age when his father left Virginia, where the facilities for even a common school education were poor, and in Ohio, in the neighborhood where his father settled, owing to the sparseness of the population, the opportunities were almost as deficient as in Virginia. In Ohio he became acquainted with an amiable young woman, Miss Eliza Wildy, daughter of Thomas and Eleanor Wildy, citizens of Pike county, Ohio, formerly from the state of Delaware. He was married on the 15th of November, 1831. Mrs. Sibert was a native of Ohio, born May 5th, 1810. As the fruit of this union they have had a family of twelve children, five of whom are now living. After his marriage, Mr. Sibert engaged in farming on his own account, in Ohio, where he resided in 1835, when, with his family, he removed to the present limits of Scott county, Illionois. After a residence of a few months, he removed, in January, 1836, in company with his brother Gideon (who now resides near him), and located near the bluffs, about four miles east of the village of Meredosia. Here they bought several hundred acres of land on the rich Illinois bottom, where he became quite largely engaged in growing grain, as well as stock, to some extent. Mr. Sibert had some means to begin with, when he first came to Morgan county. Although his capital was small, he possessed that energy and perseverance, added to habits of economy, which are better than capital, and to their possessor a guarantee of success, especially where, as in this case, they are accompanied by a good physical condition. Possessing these elements largely, Mr. Sibert succeeded in acquiring considerable property in land. He sold his farm on which he first settled, in the spring of 1866, to his brother-in-law, Jeriel Wilday [sic]. He purchased the well known "Diamond Grove" farm, situated south of the city of Jacksonville, which at that time contained six hundred and forty acres, on which he now resides, owning, at this time, more than one-half of his original purchase. It is a good farm, and being contiguous to the city, it is very valuable. Mr. Sibert still owns several hundred acres of the rich, alluvial bottom land, near Meredosia, which is located in one of the best corn growing sections of the state. Mr. Sibert was one of the old citizens of Morgan county. Coming into the county at an early day, he, in common with the old setters, had to endure the privations of a pioneer life. Mr. Sibert's fourth son, Alexander, enlisted in the 1st Missouri Cavalry, Company G., being enrolled August 1st 1861. He participated in the battle of Pea Ridge, and the minor battles and skirmishes in which the regiment was engaged. The fatigues and privations of camp life undermined his constitution, and he became the victim of disease. He was prostrated, and after remaining for some time in the hospital at Helena, Arkansas, he was sent to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, where , on the recommendations of Governor Yates, he was honorably discharged, February 14th, 1863. His father brought him home, where he remained, living but a short time. He died March 1st, following. He was one of the noble martyrs who so freely offered up their lives for their country.
Three of Mr. Sibert's living children have been married; one son is a widower; one daughter a widow, former wife of Rev. John M. Lane, and Lydia, the present wife of George Rector, the son of Milton Rector, one of the early settlers of the county. George R. is now residing on the bottom, near Meredosia. In politics, Mr. Sibert was formerly a whig, but when that party was disorganized he became a republican. He was acted steadily with the republican party since its organization,, voting twice for Abraham Lincoln, and at the last election for General Grant. In the life of Jeremiah Sibert we find lessons of instruction very valuable to the young man who has his fortune to make. His native talents are of a high order, and he is a man of gentlemanly qualities. He has a firm will, and a constitution capable of great endurance. The great secret of Mr. Sibert's success in life consists in the combination of temperance, industry, persistence, and economy, which are so happily blended in his character. The word "fail" is not in is vocabulary. . . .the star Empire. Westward, to a new country where he grown up with the society win which he has spent nearly forty of active life. His life has been devoted to the instruction and interest of a large family, and as a husband and parent he is and appreciated. By his upright course of dealing, and the fulfillment of all his contract, he is known and esteemed his business acquaintances. He has lived to see great change over Morgan county since he first settled within its limits. Wild unbroken prairie, decked with its rich exuberance of herbage and flowers, and the belts of timber, in which the deer roamed unmolested, have gradually given place to cultivated fields, commercial and educational centers of business and ment, and beautiful homes, made happy by the merry heart thousands who have since come to possess the goodly land view of these improvements he may appropriately say:
"How hath kind Heaven adorned the happy land,
And scattered blessings with a liberal hand."
Mr. Sibert is in the enjoyment of good health, and at the present
writing is living with the wife of his early choice. May they live to be
a blessing to their numerous family, and the society which they have been
identified for so many years.
Gideon Sibert , the youngest child of George and Susanah Sibert, was born in Monroe county, Virginia, near the sweet springs, on the 6th of November, 1810. His father came to America during the revolutionary war and settled in the "Old Dominion," near the south branch of the Potomac. Gideon Sibert came with his parents to Illinois in the fall of 1835; locating on a farm in Morgan county, in that portion which has since been formed into Scott county, [16 Feb 1839,] and in company with his brother, Jeremiah Sibert, purchased at different times, several tracts of land. When twenty-seven years of age, Mr. Sibert was married to Miss Tobiatha L. Long, the daughter of John and Anna Long, of Morgan county. They were formerly from East Tennessee. Mrs. Sibert was a native of Claborn county, Tennessee, born in 1820. They had a family of four children, of whom only a son and a daughter are living. They are both married, and well settled in life. Mrs. Sibert died at their residence in April, 1851. Mr. Sibert's two eldest sons were in the army during the late rebellion, and did good services for the old flag. On the expiration of the term of service, they both received an honorable discharge, and returned to their home Mr. Sibert's second wife was Elizabeth Thompson, daughter of William and Jane Thompson, old citizens of Morgan county, though formerly of Pike county, Ohio. By his last wife Mr. Sibert has had a family of nine children, of who five are yet living. In the order of their ages, those living are: Charles W., Belle, Eddie, Clarence and Frank E. The young lady, Miss Belle, is a girl of promising talents as an artist. About five years ago, Mr. Sibert commenced the breeding of fine blooded Durham stock, which will compare favorably with the best stock in the state. He has now a two year old heifer valued at one thousand dollars. His breed is from some of the most celebrated in the state. Mr. Sibert commenced life poor, but being industrious and energetic, he has acquired as the result of his labor and good management, a valuable estate, two miles and a half south of the city of Jacksonville, where he has resided about sixteen years. In politics he was originally a whig, they became a republican, and is now identified with the democratic party. During the late civil was he was an advocate of the Union cause. He voted both times for Lincoln for president. His wife is a member of the Congregational church. Mr. Sibert is among the older citizens of Morgan county, and a one of its well-to-do farmers, is highly respected.
Hiram Smedley. - The parents of this gentleman were Daniel Smedley, born on the 11th of February, 1792, and Deborah Castle Smedley, born June 18, 1788. They were married on the 13th of April, 1815. Mrs. Smedley was a widow at this date, having previously married a gentleman by the name of Cline. Their children, in the order of their births, were as follows: Eliza, born February 2, 1818; Hiram, born December 30, 1819; Jane, born February 27, 1821; Caroline T., born October 11, 1824; Thomas Castle, born April 16, 1829; and John Allen Gains, born September 14, 1831. The marriages were these; viz: Eliza Smedley to D. P. Henderson, on the 19th of January, 1837; Hiram Smedley to Miss Margaret Jane Weagley, on the 23d of April, 1840. Of the children whose names appear above, John, Caroline, Eliza, and Hiram are living; the others are dead. Mrs. Deborah Castle Smedley dying, Daniel Smedley was again married on January 1, 1838, to Miss Rachel Kenny. The children by the second marriage were these: viz: Laury, born October 17, 1838; Isaac William, born June 3, 1840; B. Franklin, born June 3, 1840; Rebecca, born February 24, 1844; Daniel, Jr., born March 5, 1846. Deaths as follows: Daniel Smedley, Sr., died on the 30th of September, 1845, aged fifty-three years, seven months and nineteen days. His first wife, Deborah Castle Smedley, died on the 29th of April, 1837, aged forty-eight years, ten months and eleven days. Daniel Smedley, Jr., died February 28, 1847.
Hiram Smedley, the subject of this sketch, was born in Paris, Bourbon county, Kentucky (date given above). While a boy, excellent opportunities were afforded him for obtaining an education. His father desired him to study to become a physician, but Hiram preferred the more pleasant (to him) walks of agriculture. At the age of fourteen, in 1833, his parents came to Morgan county, and settled in Jacksonville, Mr. T. having purchased what is now known as the grounds of the Insane Asylum. After remaining in Morgan county for some time, Hiram returned to Kentucky, and went to school for nearly two years. While in Jacksonville he had excellent advantages for securing an education, and of which he availed himself to considerable extent. In 1850 he purchased the fine farm which he still retains in his possession. His marriage in 1840 is above stated. He was only twenty-one years of age at that time. The names of his several children, in the order of their births, with dates of same, are as follows: viz.: Mary Eliza Smedley, born May 4, 1841; Thomas Henry, born June 18, 1842; John T. Cassell, born April 23, 1844; Deborah, born December 23, 1845; Samuel G., born October 18, 1847; Sarah Amanda, born June 29, 1850; Lloyd, born June 6, 1855; Baby Smedley, born January 2, 1857; Annie, born November 19, 1858. The deaths are as follows: Lloyd, on the 15th of July, 1861, aged six years, one month, and nine days; the baby died November 19, 1857, aged ten months and seventeen days; Sarah A. died on the 22d of April, 1862, aged eleven years, nine months, and twenty-four days; Margaret Jane, the well beloved wife of Mr. Smedley, died on the 24th of August, 1866.
Mr. S. was again married on the 23d of December, 1868, to Mrs. Mary A. Mitchell, widow of Andrew Mitchell, and daughter of Nathan H. Gest, Esq., an old settler of Jacksonville, having located there in 1823. Mrs. Smedley was born in Sample's neighborhood, about three miles from Jacksonville, on the 17th of October, 1824. Mrs. S.'s father, not being able to obtain a cabin there, built a log house in Jacksonville, which was the third building erected in the town. At that time deer and wolves roamed at large through the town sometimes coming almost into the houses. Mrs. S.'s father used to carry her down to the traps and show her the wolves caught therein. Sometimes when the men folks were away, her mother has often told her the wolves would come to the door and greatly frighten her with their barking. The corn and wheat were taken eight miles to a mill, and even then the people sometimes were obliged to wait many days before their grist would be ground. There were no churches in those days, but preaching was held either in the open air, the log school house, or some of the cabins. The old "Star School House" is yet remembered with lively interest, as the place where Rev. Peter Cartwright and President Sturtevant were accustomed to preach when in this locality. The people would travel many miles in order to attend divine worship.
Mr. Smedley has about three hundred acres of choice land, which is
unsurpassed for quality of soil, drainage, and crop bearing. The buildings,
especially the mansion, are in good order and well arranged in a comfortable
and elegant manner. Mr. S. has avoided public life, preferring the quiet
of home to the noise and broils of a political position. On several occasions,
the people en masse have tendered to him the nomination for several prominent
offices, thus showing their confidence in him as an honest man, and an
enterprising and public-spirited citizen. As to his integrity and earnestness
there is no question. His long residence in the county has made his name
well known in all parts of Morgan, and we have yet to hear any imputation
cast upon his character or reputation. The historian, with pleasure, chronicles
the incidents in the life of a true pioneer, and it is with the same feeling
that the writer of this brief sketch portrays in a limited degree, the
names and incidents in the lives of the Smedley family. We should be pleased
if space permitted, to write more at length, and to enlarge upon the troubles
and vicissitudes of early settlers. Mr. S. is over fifty-two years of age,
and yet has the appearance of a much younger man, his health being good
and his bodily vigor preserved to a remarkable degree. He has been identified
with Morgan in all her troubles and distresses, and lives to see her occupying
a proud position among the best counties of the state. He has seen Jacksonville
when it comprised only a few straggling lot huts, until now she is well
termed the "Athens of the West," and occupies a foremost position
as the educational centre of the Mississippi valley. Mr. Smedley's earnestness
is only equaled by his hospitality, a quality of character peculiarly characteristic
of the early settler. He is a friend to the weak, a comforter to the distressed,
and a man to whom the people refer for advice on important industrial and
other questions. In conclusion, if a brief glance at the above record will
influence for good any who may read this brief history, we shall feel that
our labors are not in vain, and that Hiram Smedley has lived a life that
his fellow citizens may well copy after.
George W. Spotts was born at Wilmington, Delaware, March 27, 1816. He is the fifth son of John F. and Susan Spotts. When he was twelve years of age his parents moved to Kentucky, locating near Louisville. Mr. Spotts was married in 1844 to Mrs. Sarah M. Fine, daughter of Moses Stephens. Mrs. Spotts was educated at the convent at Carondelet, Missouri. They have had a family of ten children, of whom only three are now living. Mrs. Spotts had a daughter by her first husband, who is now the wife of William Rice, of Greene county, Ill. Mr. Spotts made a trip to California when the gold fever was raging, and was on board the ship Independent when she was wrecked off the island of Margaretta. Nearly one half of the passengers were lost. In 1866 they moved from Greene to Morgan county, locating on a farm about one and a half miles north of Jacksonville, where they have a fine fruit farm. They have forty acres under cultivation.
Mathew Stacy was born in Berkley county, Virginia, January 21, 1799. He is the youngest child of Mathew and Jane Stacy. Mathew Stacy, the father of the above, was a native of Pennsylvania, and his wife of Scotland. Mr. Stacy was a tailor by trade. He died at his residence in Columbia county, Ohio, in 1817. Mrs. Stacy died in Sangamon county, Ill., in 1831.
Mathew Stacy (whose history we are writing) obtained, in the schools
of Columbia county, Ohio, a good substantial business education. He became
an apprentice to, and learned the trade, of saddle and harness making.
In 1821 he removed to Hopkinsville, Ky., where he opened a shop. He there
became acquainted with Miss Sarah W. Renney, to whom he was married January
6, 1825. Mr. Stacy left Kentucky, and, with his family, arrived in Jacksonville,
Ill., in October, 1827, where he still resides. He followed his trade,
and was engaged in the firm of Stacy & Rapp till 1840, when he entirely
discontinued mechanical business. He was probate judge of Morgan county
in 1837, which position he held two years. In 1843 he was re-elected to
the same position, which he filled ten years. In the meantime (in 1846)
he was one of the committee appointed by the Illinois conference of the
M. E. Church for the purpose of "superintending the establishment
of a Female Academy." The institution thus founded is now the Illinois
Female College. He has been an active trustee and an efficient laborer
for its interests. In 1853 Mr. Stacy was elected clerk of Morgan county,
and, by re-election, served eight years. He was elected to these offices
as the candidate of the whig party. Mr. Stacy is now engaged in the insurance
business, representing ably the interests of several of the leading insurance
companies in the United States. He has been in this business for forty-one
years, the first local agent of insurance in the state of Illinois. Mr.
and Mrs. Stacy have had a family of ten children, three of whom are deceased.
Mr. Stacy began life poor, and when he came to Morgan county he had but
a small capital; but, possessing intelligence, energy, and economy, he
succeeded in accumulating considerable property. His official record shows
the esteem in which he is held by his fellow citizens. In 1831 Mr. Stacy
was a Jackson democrat, but in discussing the great financial question
with relation to the United States Bank, he became a whig, and, in 1856,
a republican. He was one of those who exerted his influence to preserve
the life of the nation. He was an opponent of slavery, and a personal friend
of the illustrious statesman and martyr, Abraham Lincoln, whom he ever,
by his suffrage, supported. He is an admirer and hearty supporter of U.
S. Grant. Mr. Stacy is one of the many purely self-made men of Morgan county,
whose public and Christian lives for forty-five years are so well known
to the present citizens of the county that he need no eulogy at our hands.
Fleming Stevenson is a native of Scott county, Kentucky. He is the third child of William C. Stevenson, who was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, June 21, 1779. He was the son of James and Jane Stevenson, who emigrated to Kentucky in March, 1780, and settled near Louisville. In 1781 James and family settled at the fortification known as McConnel's station. This was only twelve years after the time when Daniel Boone first settled on the "dark and bloody grounds." William C. was married March 1st, 1803, to Miss Martha Elliott, daughter of William and Elizabeth Elliott, of Woodford county, Kentucky. Here he raised a family of nine sons and one daughter, two of whom are deceased. With his family of eight children, all of whom are now living, he came to Morgan county in the fall of 1829, and settled five miles east of Jacksonville, where he resided until his death, which occurred April 27, 1863. His wife died July 27, 1846. Mr. Stevenson and his wife were both born on June 21st, and both died on the same day of the month, i.e., the 27th. William C. Stevenson leaves behind him numerous representatives, who are among the prominent citizens of the county, among whom are Elliott Stevenson, who came into the county in 1828; Fleming (the subject of this sketch); William, and Benjamin, who are citizens of Jacksonville; Septimus C. Stevenson, who is residing eight miles east of the city; John H., who is a citizen of Springfield; and George G., who is a citizen of Savannah, Andrew county, Missouri. One circumstance worthy of note in relation to the Stevenson family is, that thirty cousins, of whom only two were married, came to Morgan county about the year 1829; all, with one exception, have been married and raised families, and although forty-three years have passed, twenty-four of the cousins are still living, and many of them are among the prominent old settlers of Morgan county.
Fleming Stevenson was married, at the age of twenty-six, to Miss
Mary Freeman. They have two daughters, both married and well settled in
life. He and his family are members of the First Presbyterian church. He
is among the old settlers of Morgan county, and is esteemed by a large
circle of friends and acquaintances, who can best appreciate his good qualities
as a citizen and upright Christian man.
Jacob Strawn, was a native of Somerset county, Pennsylvania, born May 30, 1800. His father, Isaiah Strawn, was one of a family of nine sons of Jacob Strawn, Sen., who was born in the city of London, and his father died when he was but a small boy. He left England, accompanied by his widowed mother, for America, and came over in a ship that had among its passengers William Penn. After a long voyage, they were safely landed at Philadelphia, strangers, and friendless. When the boy grew to manhood, he became a citizen of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, where many of his descendants yet reside. In that county he was married to a Miss Purcely, whose parents came from Wales to Pennsylvania when she was quite young. They had nine sons and three daughters. After Mr. Strawn's marriage he became a farmer, which business he followed the remainder of his life. Those of their children who lived to grow up to maturity married and had families. Their son Isaiah Strawn, the father of the subject of our sketch, was married to Miss Rachael Reed, of Sussex county, New Jersey. Immediately after their marriage being anxious to get into a less thickly settled country, they removed and located on a farm in Turkeyfoot Bottom, Somerset county, Pennsylvania. There Mr. Strawn followed the occupation of a farmer and blacksmith, having previously learned the latter trade. All their children were born at their residence in Somerset county, viz: four sons and two daughters; and Jacob Strawn was the youngest of these six children. Only two of them are now living. The family subsequently removed to Illinois, all excepting one daughter, who died in Coshocton county, Ohio, she having settled there previously, with her husband. In 1817, Mr. Strawn and family moved from Somerset county, Pennsylvania, to Licking county, Ohio; the elder children having married and preceded them to that State. About the year 1837, Mr. Strawn moved to Putnam county, Illinois, locating on a farm near his son, Jeremiah Strawn, and in close proximity to the town of Henapin. The Strawn family originally, in their religious belief, were Quakers, though latterly some of them became members of the Methodist church. They were descended from a hardy, robust race, possessing extraordinary powers of physical endurance. Mrs. Strawn died April 4th, 1843. Her husband survived her until August 4th, the following year. They were buried in the Florence grave yard, near Henapin, side by side, each being nearly eighty-four years of age.
Such, in brief, is the history of the ancestors of the Strawn family in America. As a race, they have nearly all been farmers; finding greater pleasure and profit in the tilling of the soil than in any other branch of industry. Jacob Strawn, in early life, had but poor advantages in obtaining an education - only those afforded by the district schools in Somerset county. An anecdote is told of him when a boy, that quite forcibly illustrates the character of the man. When about ten years of age, while visiting one of his aunts, he observed her feeding some calves, and hearing a remark relative to the profit made on the same, he then and there resolved that his business for life should be the cattle traffic. This is indicative of the early suggestion and the determination so tenaciously pursued in the eventful life of the subject of this sketch. When seventeen years of age he moved with his parents to Licking county, Ohio, and at the early age of nineteen was married to Miss Matilda Greene, the daughter of Rev. John Greene, of Licking county. He soon after settled, with his wife, a short distance from the old homestead. At the time of his marriage he was seven dollars in debt (a fact which we mention here simply to illustrate the financial starting point of one whose subsequent success was so remarkable). Mr. Strawn's first hundred dollars was earned while residing with his parents in Pennsylvania, and that money he gave to his father to go towards paying for some of the wild lands which he had purchased in Ohio. Thus it will be seen that Mr. Strawn early showed, as marked traits of his character, frugality, combined with affection for his parents. Mr. Strawn and wife had a family of seven children, three of whom reached mature age, and are married and well settled in life. While living in Ohio he carried on buying and selling cattle quite largely, and in February, 1828, coming to Illinois for a supply, and seeing the beautiful, rich, alluvial prairies, instead of purchasing stock, he invested his money in land, some of which now constitutes the home place. He then returned to Ohio, where he disposed of his property, and arranged his business satisfactorily to embark for the west; and on the 17th of May, 1831, he landed with his family in Morgan county, and settled on the land which he had previously purchased, where he was destined to play so conspicuous a part in the growth, development, and enterprise of the State of Illinois. Here commenced the unrivaled career in the annals of the stock men of the Prairie State, which made Jacob Strawn the prince of stock dealers. Of course, like men in all other branches of business, he had able competitors, but while many failed, his was a career of signal success. The rare judgment and energy which he always brought to bear on a subject, made what was difficult to others easy to him. Much of his success was owing to the tenacity and correctness with which he grappled everything he undertook. He had a remarkably retentive memory, which enabled him to be always punctual to every appointment; and it became a proverbial among his acquaintances that when he agreed to perform a certain thing at a specified time, he always did it. He thus gained a reputation for punctuality, which, in his long and eventful life, was never diminished. The maxims of his life, given below, will elucidate more clearly the character of Mr. Strawn, than anything else that could be said in his favor.
Mr. Strawn's Maxims.
(Published several years since, and designed to give the secret of success.) "When you wake up do not roll over, but roll out. It will give you time to ditch all your sloughs, break them up, harrow them, and sow them with timothy and red clover. One bushel of clover to ten bushels timothy is enough."
"Make your fence high, tight, and strong, so that it will keep cattle and pigs out. If you have brush, make your lots secure, and keep your hogs from the cattle, for if the corn is clean they will eat it better than if it is not."
"Be sure to get your hands to bed by seven o'clock; they will rise early by force of circumstances."
"Pay a hand, if he is a poor hand, all you promise him; if he is a good hand, pay him a little more; it will encourage him to do still better."
"Always feed your hands as well as you do yourself, for the laboring men are the bone and sinew of the world, and ought to be well treated. I am satisfied that getting up early, industry, and regular habits, are the best medicines ever prescribed for health."
"When it comes rainy, bad weather, so that you cannot work out of doors, cut and split your wood."
"Make your tracks when it rains hard, cleaning your stables, or fixing something which you would have to stop the plow for and fix in good weather."
"Make your tracks, fix your fence, or a gate that is off the hinges, or weather boarding your barn where the wind has blown off the siding, or patching the roof of your house or barn."
"Study your interests closely, and don't spend any time in electing Presidents, Senators, and other small officers, or talk of hard times, when spending your time in town whittling on store boxes, etc."
"Take your time and make your calculations; don't do things in a hurry, but do them at the right time, and keep your mind as well as your body employed."
Mr. Strawn's education in his sphere of business was practical, being based on methodical and efficient action. He, in short, understood his business; and his firmness and self-reliance enabled him to make circumstances bend to the successful accomplishment of his aims. To him business was always before pleasure, and those partially acquainted with Mr. Strawn would infer, from his conduct, that he was discourteous; but when they became more fully acquainted with him, as a man, outside of his business, the gentlemanly qualities of his character were always apparent, and shed over his otherwise rugged energy a benignant and gentle luster. He was one of the rare men of our country; having sterling qualities, pure motives, and noble virtues. His untiring energy and indomitable perseverence, making him very persistent in consummating business plans, coupled with a physical constitution more enduring than that of most men, were the foundation of his unparalleled success. He well understood and realized the power and possibilities of human accomplishments; the word fail had no place in his business vocabulary. His first impressions of men were usually correct, and his conclusions were speedily arrived at with the greatest correctness and precision. These principles apply to his business as a stock dealer.
He was almost infallible, and always firm and decided in his opinions; in his intercourse with men in business he was prompt; his conversational powers were good; and he possessed a natural aptness in wit and repartee equaled by few of his day. His secretiveness was large; no one knew more of his affairs than his own safety or interest demanded; hence, he never, in all his commercial travels (carrying, as he often did, large sums of money), was assaulted or robbed. He was warmly interested in behalf of those who possess energy, but he had no charity for the lazy. He was hospitable and courteous. If he could spare the time from pressing business, he would interest his guests to the fullest extent.
On his arrival in Illinois with his family, for the first few years they lived in a log house. It was one of the primitive kind, which, in order to gain access to the second story, recourse was had to a ladder from the outside. At that residence Mrs. Strawn died, December 8, 1831. He remained a widower till July 8, 1832. Having met, in April, of that year, a lady of Greene county, Miss Phebe Gates, the daughter of Samuel Gates, Esq., he was attracted by her rare beauty and commanding figure, and (to give his own language), he determined to "win her as his bride." On the 8th of July following, the happy nuptials were celebrated at the residence of Mr. Gates. Many anecdotes have heretofore been told of the peculiar manner in which Mr. Strawn became acquainted with and married his wife, some of which are ludicrous in the extreme, and unqualifiedly false. It is enough to say that Mrs. Strawn is in every way worthy of being the wife of the Great American Farmer; but it was one of those unions founded upon good sense and judgment, and so forcibly demonstrated in the subsequent life of the parties. Mrs. Strawn was born October 28, 1814, in Washington county, Ohio, forty miles below Zanesville, on the beautiful and historic banks of the Muskingum river (the county has since been divided). Her parents moved to Illinois when she was only two years of age, and settled on some land now embraced within the limits of Calhoun county. Mrs. Strawn is a lady of fine colloquial powers, of rare amiableness of character, and her suave and affable manners endear her to all who have the pleasure of her acquaintance. By this union six children were added to the family of Mr. Strawn, five of whom reached mature age; only three are now living; two are married and settled in life. David is residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is engaged in the real estate business; the other is a citizen of Jacksonville. Their only daughter, Miss Martha Amelia Strawn, was a student for three years in the school of Dr. Gannett, Boston, Mass. The hard study and confinement of her scholastic life so debilitated her constitution and impaired her health that she early became a victim of consumption, and death marked her for an early grave. She was a young lady of fine accomplishments, grace, and beauty, possessing many of the amiable qualities of her mother, and to a large degree the energy and strength of mind of her father. She was also a devout and earnest Christian, and died lamented by a large circle of friends. Her death occurred at the residence of her parents on the 15th of July, 1868. Their third son, Jacob Strawn, Jr., was educated in the city of Jacksonville, though quite early in life he had to quit study in consequence of a hemorrhage of the lungs. The family physician advised that he should travel for a time, for the benefit of his health; and, in company with Rev. L. M. Glover, he made a tour of a portion of the eastern continent, visiting many places of interest in western Europe, and extending that trip to Egypt and the Holy Land. They were abroad about six months, arriving home in October, 1858. On the 12th of March, 1862, he was married to Miss Mary Jane Patterson, of Jacksonville. They have had two sons and one daughter. He died at his residence in that city, October 10, 1869, respected and beloved by a large circle of friends. (The reader will pardon us for so far digressing from the subject under consideration, but we thought it well to give a short reminiscence of the deceased members of the family of Mr. Strawn.)
We will now proceed to give the reader a further idea of the career of the great Illinois farmer: For a number of years he furnished St. Louis with almost all her beef stock. A truthful episode is told of him in connection with the cattle merchants of that city. When at one time he had large numbers of cattle in the stock yards, the butchers and buyers of St. Louis entered into an arrangement among themselves to buy none of Mr. Strawn's beeves, unless at their own figures. Quickly learning of the condition of things, and full of resources, he readily devised a plan to thwart them in their designs. He therefore sent out agents on all the main roads leading into the city, and bought up all the cattle coming in, and was so successful in the accomplishment of his plan that the citizens had the only alternative of doing without meat or paying his prices, the latter of which, in a few days, they were glad to do. That effectually cured them, and they never afterward tried to repeat the experiment. Mr. Strawn's reputation for honesty and punctuality was such that he could control from the banks and bankers of St. Louis any amount of money necessary for his use in business. His word, credit, and paper were good wherever his name was known. At the time he was in the stock business he personally bought and sold larger herds than any other man in the United States. Many of the principal stock men of the eastern states were large dealers with him, and his name became familiarly known in the markets of New York and Boston. As Lincoln and Douglas stood prominent among the great and eminent statesmen of their day, so, in another sphere, with equal propriety, considering the time in which he lived, could be classed Jacob Strawn, as the prince of cattle merchants in the United States. He first reduced it to a system in the western states, and Morgan county, the principal theatre of his operations, owes more to him in its development as a great stock mart, than to any other cause. His energy and self-reliance have not been forgotten by the people of that portion of the state; and many wealthy men of Morgan county today owe their wealth, in part, to the example set by him. Fe men have commenced early in life under more adverse circumstances; but nothing seemingly could daunt his brave and determined heart; not the fact of being born poor, and, through force of circumstances, denied the advantages of an early education; but his will and determination of spirit were not abashed by any obstacles presented in his way. He possessed the rare faculty of judging quickly and accurately on any business point, and had the energy to pursue his plans to their legitimate conclusion; and to his great energy and industry, more than to any other cause, is most emphatically to be attributed the great triumphs of his life. As a great general lays and perfects his plans for the prosecution of a campaign, so did Mr. Strawn mark out his course for the achievement of a great financial result, which he had the pluck, the determination, and the fortitude to carry out. In the control of his business he was a man of almost sleepless vigilance. Possessing the activity of boyhood, he was fond of athletic feats, and in a trial of strength or agility was most always victorious. His career was like the great railroads which branch out in every direction from the metropolis of our country; so did, the cattle traffic of Jacob Strawn diverge towards the marts of trade in the great cities of the Union. The brand of the Strawn cattle was recognized, and brought the highest price, in New Orleans, and in eastern as well as southern cities.
But other traits besides those of business adorned the character of Mr. Strawn. By some he might have been considered selfish; but that certainly was not the case; the accumulated cares of business at times required the closest attention, and at those times he was firm and decided. Of course, like all others, he possessed faults, but they were minor, and the better acts of his life diminished them into insignificance, as the sun banishes the clouds about the horizon. Whenever he had anything to do, he wished its accomplishment before anything else, and whenever he could, he would snatch an hour from the cares of business; at such times, he was one of the most genial and pleasant companions, delighting in the society of his family and friends; and it was then that the character of Mr. Strawn shone out in its true luster. No worthy beggar or weary traveler passed his door hungry, or was denied food; yet he was always unwilling that his substance should go to feed the idle. Whenever a benevolent object worthy of his assistance presented itself, it had in him a munificent patron. A few facts will illustrate his benevolent character: when, during the great rebellion, money and aid for the sick and wounded soldiers were needed, and hard and difficult to be obtained, this patriotic and noble-hearted citizen stepped promptly forward and gave to the Christian Commission the munificent sum of ten thousand dollars. And when it is remembered that this was given when our armies were being defeated on the battlefield, not at a time when they were marching to glorious victory, it will be seen that the act is deserving of greater commendations from his countrymen. As a memento of their gratitude to so worthy a man, the Christian Commission presented to Jacob Strawn a most superb copy of the Holy Bible, with his name and date of presentation engraven thereon. That was only one of his many gifts to the government, as he had given several thousand dollars before for the same cause. At one time, a lady nurse from the hospital at Vicksburg visited Mr. Strawn at his residence; she came, she said, to solicit the donation of "a few cows for the sick boys," and requested one of him, which he promptly gave. Milk at that time, for the sick soldiers, could not be obtained. Mr. Strawn quickly seeing the situation, started out to raise money, and secured enough to purchase fifty cows, which he sent by a special agent to Vicksburg, who delivered them to the hospital stewards. It would require more space than we have at command to speak at length of Mr. Strawn's gifts to aid the government in those trying times.
When he first came to Illinois, for several years he carried on butchering and milling, supplying the market of Jacksonville with beef and flour. At that time he owned a flouring mill, and was largely interested in farming, growing large quantities of wheat and corn. At one time he was the most extensive farmer in the state of Illinois, having a fine, valuable farm of ten thousand acres in Morgan and Sangamon counties (most of which, a short time before his death, he divided among his children), and his home farm of eight thousand acres. In the earlier part of his career he drove cattle and hogs to St. Louis, many times attending them personally. In the fall of the year he would engage to furnish the Pork Packers, at specified rates, a certain number of hogs, at stated times; and such was the system and regularity of his transactions, that he seldom failed in securing handsome profits.
Rev. L. M. Glover has said: "I speak of Jacob Strawn under the conviction that he was not a common man; let me add that one seldom passed any time in his company without having the feeling more deeply impressed upon his mind that he was a great man." Great, it is true, in a sense peculiar to himself; great in his kind, and as few men of his kind ever come to be. He was as distinguished in his sphere of operations as Napoleon was in his, or Washington in his, or Clay and Webster in theirs. He was as truly a prince among agriculturists and herdsmen as Frederick was among crowned heads, or as Bacon was in the realm of mind. His origin was humble but respectable. He was not born to great possessions, but to the necessities of labor. He was not advanced to wealth by rich legacies, or by the accidental falling into his hands of large estates. His success in business was no chance result. It did not come about by favoring circumstances. It was no mere achievement of good luck. The greatness we ascribe to him was legitimate; it was in and of himself, and not in or of fortuities in any sort, or to any degree. It does not often occur that so much is accomplished by the forces which are within a single man by sagacity, self-reliance, and energy of will. The problem of his success in life is not solved by the simple fact that he was industrious and hard-working. Other men, also, are industrious and hardworking, and yet without success, or if successful, usually in a far less degree. If, therefore, it be said that any one might achieve what he achieved by doing as he did, we reply that this cannot be so, unless by doing as he did is meant, not simply toiling as he toiled, but also planning as he planned. Given the same amount of muscle, the same power of endurance, and the same zeal for work that he possessed, and yet you have not, necessarily, the man he was, nor do you account for the results of his life. But given all these things, and genius beside, and you have the elements which constituted the real Jacob Strawn, and by virtue of which he became the most distinguished farmer of the age. For he was a man of genius, in the proper sense of the word; genius is not altogether intellectual in its scope; it is not confined to fields of literature and works of art; it cannot be appropriated by poets, philosophers, painters, and sculptors. It belongs, also, to such as have a special gift in any department of human enterprise and effort. There is no reason why labor should not have its geniuses as well as learning; no reason why the workshop and farm should not give birth to representative men, as well as the learned professions. A man of extraordinary capacity in his sphere, who rises to the first rank in that sphere, who makes himself a model in it, who lays down laws and furnishes examples which it is difficult, if not impossible, for others to attain to, is a genius. Mr. Strawn was born of the soil, and for the soil he had a kind of filial regard. He took to farming naturally, and from a love of the employment. It was the bent of his mind. In early life, doubtless, he dreamed of broad acres and vast landed estates. But the special inclination of his genius was toward the handling of cattle. This showed itself when he was boy ten years of age; even then he began to exercise himself in that way, and determined that it should constitute the business of his life; and so it did, farming, as commonly pursued, being only incidental and subsidiary to the rearing of stock to supply the markets of towns and cities. The genius of the man led him into extensive operations in his line. He could not farm on a small scale. A farm which one might walk over in a few minutes would not satisfy him; he must have one which a day's ride on horseback would hardly encompass. He must have broad fields, and many of them. He must have large tracts of land in various places, for the accommodation of his stock. These extensive operations involved the employment of very many hands. His estate must be covered with tenants to carry forward the cattle, and drive them from field to field, and from farm to farm, and then to market. The oversight of such business required a mind to comprehend the whole. He who watched the entire movement of the machinery, and kept it all in motion, must possess great quickness and range of eye, vast power over details, a wondrous faculty to combine and harmonize and turn to a single result such numerous minds, and hands, and operations. Mr. Strawn was one of a very few men who unite in themselves the various qualifications for such extensive responsibilities. His thought ranged rapidly over the whole concern. Nothing appertaining to it escaped his notice. Quick, rapid, and exact, no interest suffered. While attending to what was required at one point, he did not allow neglect at another. For, to a perfect understanding of the business in which he was engaged, he added a thorough knowledge of men. His judgment of character was very keen and accurate. He surveyed a stranger with a most penetrating eye, and seldom erred in the estimate he formed. He did not like a person who could not look him in the eye; he took it as evidencing want of spirit and self-reliance, if not a consciousness of being unworthy. He rightly judged that they would be most likely to respect him, who gave him most occasion to respect them. This insight into character was an indispensable condition of success in the vast business which he carried on. It enabled him to adapt men to places, and thus protect his interests at every point against liabilities of loss or failure. The vicious he would not employ, and the unfaithful he would dismiss. He soon saw who would serve his purpose, and who would not. The honest and industrious he encouraged with additional rewards, and thus attached them permanently to his interest; so that they became, in not a few instances, identified for life with his estates. Surely, he who could constantly keep in view concerns so numerous and varied, who was capable of such a combination of means and measures suited to a single purpose, cannot be set down as a common man. Let it not be supposed that he carried forward these great farming operations by proxy. He was no gentleman farmer. Besides superintending, he took part in the hardest of the work. He showed by example how things were to be done. Before infirmities began to thicken upon him, there was not one among all his tenantry whom he did not surpass in actual labor. He wrought with his own hands upon the great problems of wealth which engaged him. Indeed, he was a prodigy of labor. In all weather, by night and by day, he pushed his business forward. Often he got his sleep in the saddle. Nothing but impossibilities were allowed to interfere with the carrying out of his plans. He scorned difficulties. The greater the difficulty, the stronger was his purpose, and the higher his ambition to overcome it. Of privations and hardships he made light, and avoided nothing deemed necessary to be done, by reason of the heat, or the cold, or the storm. That must have been an iron frame that was equal to such toil and exposure, and met them so long without weariness or exhaustion. We wonder it had not sooner given way before that restless and resistless spirit which wrought in it and by it.
Mr. Strawn's life is a lesson of industry, promptitude and thrift. It shows what power there is in singleness of devotion to a given object. It illustrates the dignity of labor. It exemplifies what the Bible says: "The hand of the diligent maketh rich." His maxims in regard to the way and means of worldly thrift, which, some years ago found their way into the newspapers, are very pertinent and valuable, in matter and form, reminding us of many of the wise and pithy saying of Benjamin Franklin. Idlers he could not abide, nor such as neglect their business, and waste their time going to town, sitting on street corners, talking of the news and discussing politics. He held laziness to be one of the chief vices, and the cause of most of the poverty and distress in the land and world.
H taught that if people would improve in honest labor the time they squander in sleep and ease and pleasure, and in making and unmaking public officers, there would be prosperity and abundance, begging would cease, and that kind of dishonesty, too, by which part of the community live on the other part. He urged that the way to have money is not to beg, steal, or borrow it, but to make it by early rising, by promptly doing what the hand finds to do, by economy in expenditures, according to Poor Richard's maxim, that "a penny saved is a penny gained." By living up to such rules as these, he proved their soundness and value; he made great gains, and those gains were legitimate. His habits, too, were certainly more unexceptionable than is usual among the opulent. He was not addicted to any vices. In principle and habit he was a thorough temperance man, never using intoxicating liquor in any shape; nor could he endure men about who were users of it. He set down all such as trifling fellows, and he had no use for them. Tobacco he discarded as both unnecessary and injurious. In moments of high excitement and passion he would employ expressions that are usually regarded as profane, but he was not, in the proper sense of the word, a profane swearer. He was also remarkably free from the ostentations of wealth. He exhibited none of the vanity which riches are adapted to produce. He had too much good sense to boast of his possessions. In dress and equipage he was plain, as became the first farmer of the republic. And in regard to his business, as far as we have been able to ascertain by inquiry, he always conducted it on the strictest principles of uprightness. He had a very high sense of honor in all his transactions. His word he held sacred. His promptitude in meeting promises was proverbial. If he owed a man, he paid him on the very day and the very hour specified in the agreement; and when men owed him, he required them to come to time in like manner. It came to be understood that when Jacob Strawn engaged to do a thing, he would do it, whether with or without a written obligation. Between the making of a bargain and the sealing of it by legal forms, there was with him no flinching or backing out. His trading, too, was uniformly honorable. He was fair in buying, and he was fair in selling. He practiced none of the sly arts of dishonesty.
All deception he despised, and there is no reason to believe that he ever practiced it for the sake of advantage, and there is as little reason to believe that it was ever successfully practiced upon him for he was too discerning to be caught in that way. Honesty he knew well enough was a part of his capital, and yet we cannot believe he was honest because honesty was the best policy, but because he had no disposition to pursue any other course. He amassed a great fortune, but it is believed he did it by methods entirely unexceptionable. He made money very fast, but the means employed were legitimate. It was not by running hazards of speculation; it was not by any manner of stock gambling, but by the regular operations of the laws of labor and commerce; by keen, far-sighted management, such as seldom failed of the results intended. Mr. Strawn was not one of those who have a faculty for making a fortune one day and losing it the next. He was not of those who risk and break, and whose prosperity is a certain presage of ruin. He never failed, and had no need of laws in aid of bankrupts, for he did his business on principles that do not expose to unanticipated pressure or disaster. It deserves also to be told that the rectitude of his transactions did not have its rule and measure in that which is strictly and merely legal. Many things that are legal are not exactly right according to higher principles. Mr. Strawn was remarkably free from vices of that sort. He was slow to take advantage of a man's present necessities, much more of his misfortunes, to further a selfish end. He took interest for his money, but not exorbitant interest. He never acquired the reputation of a hard and uncompromising usurer. Nor did he incur the odium which, justly or unjustly, attaches to dealing in other men's paper, commonly called shaving notes. He was not a jockey of any sort. He did not enrich himself at the expense of his neighbors. He did not increase his own by unsettling the estates of his fellow men. Doubtless he often pressed his claims by legal means, but he got no one into his power for the sake of fleecing him, nor was his thrift due to any advantage taken of persons falling into straits. Though little disposed to favor such as had failed to keep their engagements through laziness or neglect, he was not guilty of distressing any whose misfortunes made an appeal for leniency. It was not by any sort of rapacity that his great fortune was amassed. His reputation is not associated with the foreclosing of mortgages, and the enforcement of executions, regardless of mercy's and humanity's claims. Nor was he an oppressor in the matter of wages. He did not grind the faces of the poor. He was a friend to the working men; a friend in need to the poor and suffering. If any conceive of him as hard hearted and unfeeling, they mistake. Under that strong exterior there beat a heart that was easily touched by an appeal to sympathy. Rough, bustling, and stormy, as he was at times, at other times he was mild and gentle as a child. The real story of poverty and want never failed to reach his ear. He did not turn away coldly from any well authenticated tale of sorrow. He has been known to melt to tears by tender words. His strong frame would convulse when listening to touching narrations of suffering and sorrow. For the soldier and his family he had warm sympathies. He was warmly attached to the martyred Lincoln, because he believed him honest, sincere, unselfish, and earnestly devoted to the welfare of the nation.
About 1850, Mr. Strawn made an entire change in his base of business operations, which was of selling his cattle from the stock yards of his farm, thereafter giving his attention almost wholly to the feeding and grazing of his stock. He was the first man in Morgan county to adopt the stall feeding of beef.
In 1859, Mr. Strawn commenced the erection of the magnificent Opera House in Jacksonville, which bears his name. The edifice was completed in 1861, and the first entertainment given on the 12th of March of that year. Thus, by his public spirit and munificence, he has given to Jacksonville the finest public building that adorns the city - a fitting monument, in part, to commemorate the name of its founder.
In politics, early in life, Mr. Strawn was a Whig, and on the formation of the republican party, he became a supporter of its principles. It is needless to say, that during the war he was one of the staunchest supporters of the Union cause in the state.
Mr. Strawn died at his residence, on the 23rd of August, 1865, retaining
activity and vigor almost to the last, being able to ride to town and transact
business four days previous to his death. A beautiful monument in Diamond
Grove Cemetery, Jacksonville, now marks the resting place of all that is
mortal of Jacob Strawn. His widow, the amiable partner of his bosom for
so many years, is residing at the old homestead, enjoying the respect and
kind regards of their large circle of friends.
Rev. William Cokely Strebling was born in Albemarle county, Virginia, March 18, 1795. He was the oldest son of Thomas and Elizabeth Strebling, who were citizens of Virginia. They emigrated to Kentucky, and settled near Lexington, in 1825. Soon after, he settled on a farm, which he had previously purchased, in Logan county, where he resided till his death, in 1827. His wife lived several years after, when she removed with her son Benjamin, who is now residing in Beardstown, Cass county, Ill. She died near the present site of Virginia, Cass county, in June, 1834. Thomas Strebling was a farmer; he and his wife were members of the Methodist church, and died in the triumph of a living faith.
The subject of this biography received his early education in the
common schools of Virginia and Kentucky, with one term at a grammar school.
He first experienced the pardoning love of his Saviour October 12, 1810,
and after an experience of sixty-two years, he is still firm upon the Rock,
Christ Jesus. He commenced his ministerial labors as an exhorter, in 1812,
and was first licensed to preach January 24, 1813, when he commenced on
a circuit in Virginia. He continued in different fields of labor in Virginia,
Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri for fourteen years. He was married October
2, 1821, to Miss Mahola, only daughter of Jonathan and Lourana Becraft
of Bourbon county, Kentucky. By this union he had two children; viz.: Mary
Elizabeth, born December 8, 1822, wife of James H. Lurton, one of the prominent
citizens of the county residing east of Jacksonville, and Joanna, who died
at the age of sixteen. In 1827 while at the residence of his father-in-law,
engaged in farming, as a local preacher he was very efficient, and he has
thus labored for many years of his life in the past, preaching less latterly,
on account of his bodily afflictions. In 1832 he settled on the farm east
of Jacksonville, now occupied by his son-in-law, Mr. Lurton, where he resided
till June, 1871, when he removed to his present residence in the southeast
part of the city of Jacksonville. Mr. Strebling has a Christian experience
of over sixty years. The record of his labors, with their fruits, can never
be fully estimated till the secrets of eternity are unfolded. By his upright
walk he has left an example which corroborates the percepts he has taught
from the pulpit for so many years.
James B. Sturgis was born in South Carolina, December 7, 1794. He moved to Georgia, and then to Tennessee, and from there in 1813, he removed to Butler County, Ohio, where he remained until the autumn of 1825, when, with his family, he came to Jacksonville, and resided in the east part of the present limits of that city for about two years. Mr. Sturgis, in the year 1827, settled on the southwest quarter of section 2, township 13, range 9, where he resided about twenty years, when he removed to Macoupin county, where he resided until his death, which occurred March 14, 1867. Mr. Sturgis was married in 1814, to Miss Mary Imes, of Butler county, Ohio. By this union he had nine children, in the following order, viz: John R.; Ann (deceased), former wife of Charles Van Note, of Sangamon county; Thomas (deceased); Elizabeth, relict of the late John Gill; William (deceased); Rebecca, present wife of James Arnold, of Sangamon county; James and Mary, twins, both citizens of Hamilton, Mo.; and Melinda, present wife of Cyrus Story, of Macoupin county. Mrs. Sturgis died August 7, 1852. Mr. Sturgis was one of the early citizens of Morgan county - one who, for many years, participated in the labors and inconveniences of the pioneer citizens. He was the first in Jacksonville who was commissioned captain in the militia. In 1825 he donated one log, and, with others, assisted in erecting the first school house in the present Athens of Illinois. The same logs are now in use in a stable in the city. He was a man who had the esteem of all who were acquainted with him. Of his family, none are at this time citizens of the county except his oldest son, John, who is residing on section 22, township 13, range 9, where he has lived over thirty years. He was married April 23, 1836, to Miss Nancy, daughter of John Seymour (who was one of the early settlers of the county). By this union they have had a family of six sons and five daughters, of whom seven are still living, viz: John; Martha, wife of J. Barrett, of Waverly; Peter, residing in his native township; William, Mary, and Elizabeth, are residing with their parents. Sarah, wife of Francis Seymour, is residing in Macoupin county. Mr. Sturgis and his wife are esteemed by a large circle of friends and acquaintances in the county in which they have devoted nearly forty years of their active lives.
Julian M. Sturtevant, who, for more than a quarter of a century, has been President of Illinois College, was born at Warren, Litchfield county, Connecticut, July 26th, 1805. His parents were Warren Sturtevant and Lucy Tanner, both born in Warren. His father was a farmer in very moderate circumstances, at a time when the life of a farmer in New England was one of great difficulty and hardship, with very small profits. The soil in Warren was more than ordinarily rocky and sterile, even for New England, and as a consequence, the circumstances of the family were far from prosperous. After contending unsuccessfully with these difficulties for some fifteen years, Mr. Sturtevant, the father, with his family, joined the great stream of emigration which was then flowing from Litchfield county, Connecticut, to New Connecticut, as that part of Ohio now known as the Western Reserve, was then called, and found his new home in the mighty forest at Tallmadge, now summit county, Ohio. Mr. Sturtevant, the son, had, at the time of his migration into the wilderness, nearly completed his eleventh year. He had begun his elementary education in the common schools of his native town. It might have been expected that as a consequence of such migration to the wilderness, his education must at this point have been for some years at least arrested. Such was not, however, the fact. The men that settled northeastern Ohio built the school house and their own cabins simultaneously. Within the first two years from the time when the family were settled in Ohio, he had not only found good teachers in the various branches of a common school education, but had commenced the Latin and Greek classics. From 1816 to 1822, his life was almost equally divided between the studies, first of the common school, and then of the academy, and the severe labors of subduing a farm in the forest. In those days he was almost equally familiar with Greek roots and beech roots, although it is currently reported in these parts, that he was always rather more at home in dealing with the former than with the latter. In the summer of 1822, he returned to Connecticut, and in October of that year entered the Freshman class in Yale College. During the next four years his life differed little from the ordinary student of Yale College forty years ago. He was a diligent and successful student, and graduated in the year 1826, with one of the high honors in the largest class that Yale had then sent out. The next three years of his life were spent partly in teaching, the position of Principal of the Academy at New Canaan, Connecticut, having been tendered him just previous to his graduation, and partly in the study of Theology in the Theological department of Yale College. While in the Theological school he, with several other members of the school, made choice of the then infant state of Illinois as his future home. The purpose of himself and friends was to unite with the labors of the Christian ministry the founding of a College, which should not only be a blessing to the community in their own day and generation, but should also exert its beneficent influence on coming generations. In the summer of 1829, Mr. Sturtevant was ordained to the Christian ministry, and married to Elizabeth Maria Fayerweather; and on the 15th day of November of that year, he became a resident of Jacksonville. College Hill, Jacksonville, had been selected by a few enterprising friends of education in this State, as early as 1828, a brick building was commenced for the use of such a Seminary. But plans were immature, and resources very inadequate. Mr. Sturtevant and the young men who were in cooperation with him united in this enterprise, suggested important changes in the construction of the Seminary, and furnished, through the liberality of friends of learning in the eastern states, important pecuniary resources. In December, 1829, the Board of Trustees was organized, and the institution received the name of Illinois college. Immediately after the organization, the trustees appointed Mr. Sturtevant a teacher at the institution. He accepted the appointment, and opened the institution for the reception of students on Monday, the 4th day of January, 1830. From that day to the present he has been a teacher in Illinois College. From 1831 to 1844, he was Professor Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. His labors, however, were farm from being confined to that department. As occasion required he often gave instruction in the Latin and Greek languages, and the various branches of Moran and Social Science. In November, 1844, he was elected, by the unanimous vote of the trustees, President of the institution, in the place of Dr. Edward Beecher, resigned. The condition of the College was at that time one of great difficulty and peril. It was burdened with a debt of nearly $30,000, for much of which it was paying interest at ten percent. It had a large amount of land which was unproductive and entirely unsalable. Wild land and unoccupied town lots would not at that time bring cash at any price. The annual expenses of the College for taxation were not less than $700. It had no permanent friends, and the community were generally in straightened circumstances. Hence the rate of tuition was necessarily low; and how the college was to be sustained and rescued form its crushing burden of debt was not apparent. It was, perhaps, the darkest hour in the history of the institution.
Mr. Sturtevant, with many misgivings, accepted the position tendered him, and in that position has given the best years of his life to the service of the College; with what success the present condition of the institution must bear witness. The College is now clear of debt; it has a productive, interest-bearing permanent fund of more than $100,000. Its income last year was about $17,000, and its whole capital is worth nearly a quarter of a million of dollars. Its present income is greatly below its real necessities; nobody is so sensible of this as its President and Professor. And it must receive large additions to its available resources, or it cannot meet the just expectations of the public in the position it occupies. But comparing its present condition with its condition in 1844, it must be acknowledged its progress ought to be accepted by the public as satisfactory evidence of the fidelity and efficiency of those who have managed its affairs. It is a noble foundation, well and securely laid, on which the liberality of this community may build, at a very moderate cost, as noble an institution of learning as adorns any city in our country.
Mr. Sturtevant has decided and positive religious opinions, and has ever been outspoken and earnest in expressing them. He holds with unwavering confidence to the system of doctrine known as Evangelical. He believes that system, in its purity and simplicity, originated in a revelation from God, and is destined yet to become the faith of the human race. But he does not believe that the gospel of Christ is to be either maintained or propagated in the world by any churchly authority, or by an ecclesiastical legislation or adjudication. He believes that all Christians may be, and ought to be, united in maintaining the simple gospel of Christ, and in propagating it in all lands. In politics he has never been a partisan. There are probably very few men now living who have attained the age of sixty, who can say that they never gave a vote either to the whit or democratic party. But of him it is true. And yet, though cherishing a life-long hostility to the system of slavery which so long disgraced our country, and shocked the moral sentiments of the civilized world, he took little part in the early agitation of that question. He always felt that these agitations presented no practical issue. As soon as a practical issue was presented, in the form of an effort to arrest the extension of slavery in the territories, he entered into it with all the enthusiasm of which he is capable. The first vote he ever gave was for Martin Van Buren, on the Buffalo anti-slavery platform of 1848. Into the organization of the republican party of 1856, he entered with the greatest fervor, and through all the terrible conflict he has sustained the leading measures of that party with great zeal and constancy. Today he thoroughly believes in the necessity of a fundamental reform of our revenue system, and of our civil service, and our currency.
Mr. Sturtevant was one of the earliest and most zealous advocates
of our public school system, and took an active and very influential part
in establishing a free school in this town, when it was a novelty in all
this region, and as a novelty met with great opposition. He is not one
of our wealthy men. He has had many opportunities to make himself rich
by safe and rare speculations, but he has been too steadily and exclusively
devoted to the great public enterprise to which his life has been consecrated,
to avail himself of them; and he, as well as his associates, has always
served the College on a very moderate, often on a very scanty and insufficient,
salary. In this respect Illinois college is not very peculiar among American
Colleges. With the exception of those Colleges that derive their resources
from the State, the salaries of our college instructors are very scanty
and inadequate. And yet, partly by inheritance, and partly by the rise
of real estate, of which he became possessed almost against his will, he
has an income which, added to a very moderate salary gives him a competency.
He has never published a book. And yet his published writings, in the form
of sermons, addresses, lectures, and articles in various quarterly, monthly,
and weekly periodicals, are considerably voluminous, and some of his publications
have attracted attention on the other side of the Atlantic. The principal
organs through which he has addressed the public are the biblical Repository,
of New York, now united with the Bibliotheca Sacra, of Andover, Mass.,
the New Englander, New Haven; the Independent, Congregationalist, and Advance,
with occasional articles in various other periodicals. Much of the largest
portion of his life has been spent in Jacksonville. He became a resident
of this town when he was only twenty-four years old. The number of persons
now living in Jacksonville who resided here when he came to the place is
very small. His personal recollections embrace almost the entire history
of the city, and with much of that history his name is inseparably associated.
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