EARLY REMINISCENCES

By Amos Hoff

From the Rossville Weekly Press (Rossbille, Vermillion Co., IL)  April 1909

I was born in Montgomery County, Indiana in 1833/  When I was about seventeen years of age it came to pass that there was a wedding in the neighborhood in which I lived.  It was February 14, Valentine day.  The couple were Alex Stewart and Frances Smith.  I, being a near neighbor and school teacher, got an invitation to the wedding. 
     We had no buggies in those days and had to go on foot.  Neither had we any fine houses or carpets.  The house where the wedding was held was a two-story hewed log house.  There were about thirty guests present.
     It was there that I first met Miss H. A. Blackford.  I thought she was as pretty a girl as I had ever seen.  Weddings were different those days than now.  We spent two days at the house where the ceremony was performed.  We spent the first night in playing and having a good time.  The next day we all went to the reception.  I still had my eye on my girl and managed to help her on her horse and on the road to the reception we had quite a long talk.  When we got to the groom's home we were received by his mother with a good dinner.  My girl and I spent the afternoon in having a good time, and as time went on we met occasionally.  Later her brother, Alick Blackford, married my sister, Harriet Hoff, and we got fairly well acquainted.  Seven years went by and I was twenty=two years of age.  I had never been very far from home and so my brother-in-law and I planned to make a trip to Illinois.  This was about the middle of January, 1856.  My brother-in-law lived on Shawnee Prairie at that time so one afternoon after dinner I saddled my horse, a good riding one, and went to my brother-in-law's that night to get an early morning start.  He lived about two miles north of where New Richarmond, Ind., now is.  When I got there I found my girl already there.  She had come to stay with my sister while we were gone.  We spent most of the night talking to each other and it was that night we convanented (sic) to share each others joys and sorrows together.
     Next morning, bidding the folks goodbye, we started for Illinois.  We rode to Attica, then crossed the Wabash on a ferry boat.  From there the road angled most of the way to Rossville.  Here we found one store, a blacksmith shop and a postoffice.  When we got to where the John Hollenbach house now is we noticed the road angled southwest.  We rode on to Henry Purnell's on the south side of the road just west of the Thos. Smith place, arriving there just as the sun went down into the ground, or, at least, so it looked to me.  Here we stayed all night.  The folks were glad to see us for they also were from Indiana.  It was a very cold day, the thermometer registering zero weather.  There was about six inches of snow on the ground.  When the sun came up the next morning it seemed to rise up from out of the ground.  The prairie chickens were cooing as though there were thousands of them.
     Breakfast over we bid the folks goodbye and soon came to a blacksmith shop about a quarter of a mile west of the McDonald house.  Berry Ellis, formerly of Wingate, Ind., was running the shop.  We stopped to talk and warm for a short time then went on past where Blue Grass now is.  We rode about two miles and then the road angled northwest across the prairie to Sugar Grove.  Just on the east side of the road we came to a log house.  The family that lived there I believe were named Lyon.  We watered our horses here.  I remember noticing a gray wolf hide he had tacked on the side of his house which he said he had killed the day before.  It looked to me to be a nice place to live.  From here the road angled northwest to where Paxton now is.  The Illinois Central railroad had just been built at Paxton and there was just one store, blacksmith shop, postoffice and two or three small houses.
     We went about two miles straight northwest and stopped for the night with a man named Billy Nooling.  He had been here two or three years and had moved from about one and a half miles south of Waynetown, Ind., and was one of the earliest settlers of his neighborhood.
He had been a neighbor to us and was glad to hear of his old friends he had left in Indiana.  After supper we went to the main room to spend the evening, leaving the girl in the kitchen to wash the dishes.  Pretty soon I wanted a drink and went to the kitchen and there talked to the girl.  We didn't get the dishes washed until late bedtime.
     Next morning after breakfast, bidding the folks goodbye, we started on our trip.  The road lay to the northwet across the big prairie.  The land was level the most of the way.  About noon we came to Oliver Grove.  The road led us through the center of the grove.  It was a nice place, on high ground.
     From there we went in a northwesterly direction to the little town Avoca.  My brother-in-law, John Busbark (Busenbark), husband of Mary Jane Hoff, lived there.  We stopped there for a few days with my sister.  I had some other acquaintances living there, one by the name of William Roach.  He married a girl by the name of Sarah Ann Burns.  I went to see them one afternoon and found him grinding corn to make mush with one of those big coffee mills.  I do not know what came of them and they are probably not living now.
     After being there three days we bid the folks goodbye and started home.  I think we staid (sic) all night with Robert Biddle, just east of the Biddle school house.  The next day we went the balance of the way home, arriving there after dark.  It was a sad home coming.  The little grand child of my sister had died with my brother-in-law and I had been gone.  The funeral was arranged for the next day.  As it was good sleighing we went in a big sled, I riding with my intended and leaving my hore behind.
     The funeral over we began to plan for our wedding day.  It took place on March 13, 1856.  While my girl was preparing the necessary articles for the wedding I was farming my father's place.  I made arrangements with my father to move an old log house close to the edge of the orchard.  By the 13th the house was nearly completed.
     The wedding occurred at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon on February 13, 1856.  The ceremony was performed by Mattias Van Cleve, the Baptist pastor of Crawfordsville, Ind.  The next day my wife and I and the guests all rode on horseback to the reception at the home of my father and mother.  They met us at the door and gave us a hearty welcome.  A good dinner was ready for us, and we spent the afternoon and night having a good time.
     The wedding over we began to plan to get our house ready to move into, and it was not long before we were by ourselves in the little cabin.  I farmed the place two years, everything furnished and go two-fifths of what we sold off of the place.  I had now gotten a team besides the horse father had given me and had saved some money.  I began to think of getting a home of my own, but land being too high in Indiana I came to Illinois and purchased forty acres of my present farm west of Rossville for $12.50 an acre.  Father gave me all the timber I cut which I hauled to the saw mill and had made into boards for and eighteen foot square house and a barn.   The winter of 1857 and 1858 I hauled all this lumber and my household goods from near Waynetown to my Illinois farm home, eight miles west of Rossville.  My wife's father had moved here the year before and we staid with them until our own house was completed and we were ready to move in wich was about May 1, 1858.

Note: In one place he says the marriage was March 13, in another he says February 13, 1856. 

Submitted by Judie Clark.