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Nancy Wilson Alexander Shepherd
Nancy Wilson Alexander Shepherd
May 17, 1941 Palestine, Illinois
Milford, Decatur County, Indiana. October 14, 1876

This so far as I know is the family history of Nancy Wilson, Later Nancy Wilson Alexander and later Nancy Wilson Alexander Shepherd, widow of John Donathen Shepherd. This is as given in her own words on the day above written.

"My father, James Wilson, was born in Virginia, Old "Dominion, in Hardin County, about a farm located on a stream known as "Forest Run" , in the year 1768. He remained there until his removal west in the town of Romney on our way to Ohio. We had two six horse teams and three loose horses. When we arrived at Brownstown in Fayette County, Pennsylvania father purchased a flat boat, for which he paid $100.00, hiring a captain whose services were paid for by moving his family in our boat, putting wagons and plunder in the boat. Father and Mother took the horses overland. The Monongahela River being very low, the trip was very tedious, although many Parkers and others came down about this time and settled in Clark County, Illinois, where some of their descendents now live.

I was 13 years old at the time. My father, when he left Virginia, had eleven children, all living to have families of their own, except one daughter, Maria, who died in her eighth year in the fall of 1819 in Palestine, Crawford County, being buried on the "Knoll" north west of Palestine, about one half mile from town, on land which is owned by Mrs. Eliza Ann Patton. The remains were afterwards removed to the cementary established by the settlers. "The Grove" being the burying ground of the "Scouts an Rangers" of an earlier day.

The names of my brothers and sisters, in the order of their birth is as follows: William, Mary Ann (Sperry), Vastine Jamison, Benjamin, James, Harvey, Elizabeth, Nancy (myself), Isaac Newton, Presley C., Jeretta, and Maria.

We arrived in Hamilton County, Ohio in the last days of October, 1815, where my father had previously bought a farm on the banks of a small stream then known as "Dry Run". The farm was located about eight miles from Harrison and between that place and Cincinnati. My brother Vastine having been sent out to raise a crop the year before, which he did when not engaged as a "Minute Men", to which organization he belonged. We did all our trading in Cincinnati until we removed to Illinois (Palestine), in the fall of 1818. When we left the Ohio River, for our last home, we purchased a flat boat, loading every thing but the horses and wagons and children sending the boat in charge of broth Harvey and a man by the name of Campbell and another hired man to the mouth of the Wabash River, at which point the flat boat was exchanged for a keel boat and the cargo, consising of household goods, farming implements, furniture, salt, dried apples, peaches, whiskey, flour and many other articles needed in a new country, were transferred to the keel boat and additional hands employed. The salt brought seven dollars a bushel at Palestine. After a great deal of hardship and labor the boat with cargo arrived at Vincennes during the week of Christmas, 1818. The goods being hauled from Vincennes to Palestine, Illinois.

Thomas G. Cullom, brother William Wilson, Joseph Kitchell, Wickliff Kitchell, and David Stewart, came to Palestine in the year 1817 and built cabins for thier families. Palestine was laid out by Cullom and Judge Kitchell. Cullom died a few years later.

Judge Kitchell lived several years and died in Palestine, having raised a large family, and accumulated considerable wealth.

Jon Gill who had married Elizabeth, or as she was know "Betsey" Alexander came to Palestine in 1817 and settled on a half section of land 2 1/2 miles west of Palestine, where he lived until he died about the year 1853 all his family having died immediately preceding his death, from what was thought to be milksickness. The only one of his family remainingbeing Cecilia Chamberlain, who is still supposed to be living at Beloit, Wisconsin. John Gill's family were all born on this farm. The oldest, Ann, married Mc.Gughey and died in Palestine, leaving no children. William was lost off a flat boat or murdered at Natchez. Cyrus, John, Adelade, Amanda and Sarah and a grandchild, son of Mary's, another child all died as stated, within a few weeks of each other. (A son of Cecelia is a Professor in the Chicago University at this time, June, 1906. J. H. A.)

The family on their route from Ohio to their new home in Illinois passed Wabash at Mc.Carty's Ferry where they stay all night. The next day they reached Palestine after a journey of ten days, through the wilderness, on the ground now occupied by Judge James C. Allen, formerly speaker of the National House of Represenatives, and formerly owned and occupied by O. H. Bristol & company general merchants.

The winter of 1818 & 1819 was exceedingly severe, snow falling to the depth of 22 inches, remaining on the ground six weeks. Travellers were entertained by the family during the winter in this cabin.

In the spring of 1819 Mc.Call was killed by the Indians on the Embarras River, south west of Palestine. the murderers were caught and brought to Palestine by the "Scouts" and were tried before Judge Wilson of Carmi, Illinois, at a call session and sentenced to be hung. Before the day set for the execution, the Indians escaped and were never recaptured. Their names were Kilbuck and Thomas. There had been one term of court held in the County previous to this.

The old "Wilson's Tavern" was built in the summer of 1819 and has been occupied as a tavern up to the present day. (Fife's Hardware store now occupies this location, March, 1907. W. A.)

In the year of 1817 John Caldwell Alexander, my first husband came to Palestine with John Gill and James caldwell. James Caldwell located five miles north of Palestine in Lamotte Prairie and died there several years later.

Dr. J. C. Alexander remained at Caldwell's and John Gill's until 1820 at which time he returned to Kentucky. He was married when he came to Illinois, but his wife died at Caldwell's and is buried in the "Grove" along side of a little daughter. The wife's name was Eliza Kelso--perhaps Kincaid--she being as well as the Gills and Alexanders natives of Montgomery county, Kentucky, near Mt. Sterling. My husband ws a student of Dr. Walker of the country. Dr. J. C. Alexander was the first regular physician in that region of medicine in Crawford and adjoining counties. He did practice in what was afterwards Clark, Lawrence, and for mile to the west of Palestine, also in Sullivan, Knox, and Vigo Counties, Indiana. He was in active practice up to the time of his removal to Danville, Illinois, to accept the office of Registrar of the Land Office in 1833, which position he held up to his death August 7th, 1841.

Dr. John C. Alexander and Nancy Wilson were married on the 27th day of July, 1822 in the "Wilson Tavern", her home, in Palestine, remaining into their new frame house in which they lived until their removal in 1833 to Danville, Illinois.

Dr. Alexander was a prominent politician and had been an elector at large for the state in President Jackson's two canvasses. He was also elected to carry the returns of the elctions to Washington in the last election, as was usual in those days.

I am the mother of eight children as follows:

 

Emily Alexander, born May 10th. 1825

Angeline Alexander, born May 10th. 1825.

John Houston Alexander, born, November 7th. 1828, in Palestine.

David Wesley Alexander, born in Palestine, March 30th. 1830.

Nancy Jane Alexander, born in Palestine, October 16th. 1832.

James Wilson Alexander, born Danville, Illinois. May 12th. 1837.

William Fithian Alexander and Guy Smith Alexander were born in Danville Illinois, December 4th. 1839.

After the death of my husband, I moved with my 7 children to my brother's, Harvey Wilson on Lamotte Prairie where I remained for six weeks. After this I removed to the building we had vacated on our removal to Danville which we still owned. Two years later with my family I took up my residence on what was known as the Ryan farm, three miles west of Palestine, which we had owned for a number of years. We remained on this farm until I married John Donathan Shephard, on the third of December 1846, taking up our residence to Robinson, twenty six years afterwards. Mr. Shepherd died in Robinson March 3rd, 1876. I live at Robinson at this time.

Harmon Alexander came from Woodford County, Kentucky to Palestine in August 1825. Commenced reading medicine with his brother, John C. and in 1828 began the practice with his preceptor and continued with his brother until he married Eliza Kitchell, daughter of Judge Joseph Kitchell, when he went to himself and for thirty years continued in active practice in Palestine. After the death of Eliza, his wife, he married a younger sister Julia. After the death of Julia he married Jerretta Wilson, his present wife, a daughter of William Wilson, one of the first settlers at Palestine. There are sons and daughters of Harmon Alexander by the last two wives now living in Crawford County.

My father's name was James Wilson, his father's name was William Wilson. William Wilson came from England near the line of Scotland. My grandmother's maiden name, on the father's side was Blackburn-Anna.

The home farm in Hardy County, Virginia was inherited by my father from his father William Wilson, and was sold by my father before his removal from Virginia to Ohio in 1815.

William Wilson had 13 sons and two daughters. William Wilson's oldest son Bejamin had twenty nine children by two wives. He lived in the suburbs of Parkersburg, Virginia -West Virginia. He was still living at that place in 1866. Archie, David, William, and probably young Moses moved to Licking County, Ohio, where their descendents now live.

Mary Wilson, a sister, married Jacob Sperry, resided in Licking County, Ohio, until her death on the 14th day of July 1873, caused by a railroad accident. Her husband died shortly afterwards from the same cause-killed at a railroad crossing while in their buggy.

Benjamin Wilson was Nancy Shepard's own uncle. Betsey Wilson, daughter of Moses Wilson, was married to Abram Claypool and removed to Columbus, Ohio, at an early day, probably as early as 1805.

Peggy Wilson, a younger sister of Betsey, married Cornelius Ruddell in Virginia, as early as 1805 and removed to Kentucky. Not liking it there, they moved to the vicinity of Jeffersonville, Indiana at which place they were as late as 1850. Probably descendents there at this time.

Elizabeth, called Betsey, sister of Nancy Shepherd, was married in Ohio, about the year of 1816, to Asa Crane and in the same year theu removed to Browstown, Jackson County, Indiana, afterwards settling at a point now known as "Crane Mills" on the O. & M. Railroad, on White River. Asa Crane died about 1860. So far as I know Betsey is still living in that neighborhood. Betsey had five children.

William Wilson, the oldest brother of Nancy Shepherd, was born in 1790, married Betsey Kirchell, sister of Harvey Kitchell and Asa Kitchell. They were married on a stream known as "Driftwood, near Cranes Mills, about the year 1816, removed to Palestibne at once and remained there, raising a family of 7 or 8 children. The children's names are Jane, Hannah, Jerretta, Emily, John, Robert C., and Carroll Wilson. Some of these children are living in Crawford County at this time.

William Wilson was Post Master at Palestine for thirty years. He was also Justice of the peace for a great many years. It is said that during that time there was never an appeal from his decision which was not sustained by a higher court.

Vastine Jamison Wilson was born in 1798, in Hardy County, Virginia. Was married to Mary Fox, in Palestine in June, 1820, by the Rev. McGayghey and removed to Macoupin County, Illinois in 1832, where his wife died in 1836. He and his sons Newton and Egbert went to California, overland in 1849. Vastine died during that winter and was buried near Sutter's Fort. Egbert died a few years later. Newton and another brother, Augustus own a large dairy and grain farm in Placer or Eldorado County, California, in the Sacramento Valley, not far from lthe old mining town of Morman Island. They are said to be very wealthy. Newton married a widow with two children. Do not know whether he had any of his own or not. Another brother and Mary Wilson and are said to be wealthy and have fine farms.

Benjamin Wilson, another brother of Nancy Shepherd, was born in Hardy County, Virginia, in 1974 and was married to Anna Lemasters in 1819 and settled on a farm two miles west of Palestine. He died in 1851 or 52. His widow and two daughters, Eliza Fisk and Polly Fitch with their husbands John J. Fisk and George Fitch and their children removed to California in 1854 and reside on farms near their cousins Newton and Albert Wilson, in the Sacremento Valley, about 25 miles from Sacremento City. I understand they are good in circumstances.

James Harvey Wilson, was born in Hardy County, Virginia, in 1796, was married to Jane Caldwell, in August 1822, on Lamotte Prairie. She was the daughter of James Caldwell, before spoken of. She died in March 1857. William Oliver, one of the sons of Harvey, married a daughter of Colenel Maxwell Blackburn of Edgar County, Illinois. He and his family still living in Paris, Edgar County, Illinois.

James C. Wilson, another son of Harvey, moved to Texas, remained there for a few years and returned to Crawford County, where some of his family still reside.

Harvey Wilson had eight children, all are dead but the three mentioned by Abbie Phelps, Harvey Wilson's third wife there was one daughter, Mary. She married Richard Bristol and is now living with her husband in Dongola, Illinois.

Issac Newton Wilson, another brother, was born in Hardy County, Virginia, in 1789, was married to Hannah Decker about 1830 and now resides ar Olney, Illinois. There were six children, Alfred, Isaac, William, Luke, Medford B., and Sarah, all living but William who died in Charleston, Illinois.

Jerretta Wilson, a sister of Nancy Shepherd, was born in Virginia, Hardy County, in 1801 and was married to Guy Smith in Palestine in the year 1826, and died near Burlington about the year 1860. Guy W. Smith came from Kentucky where he is very respectfully connected. His mother was of the Speed family. We do not know of his residence at this time.

Presley C. Wilson, another brother, was born in Virginia, about the year 1803, possibly 1804, and was married to Rachel Kitchell, daughter of Judge Joseph Kitchell, in the year 1831 and died in the town of Georgetown, Eldorado County, California in the spring of 1850. He was buried in the cemetery near that town, and a mound of coulders was placed on his grave by John H. Alexander, shortly afterwards. Maria Wilson the widow still lives in Palestine. His two daughters Angeline Alexander, wife of Thomas Alexander, and Rachel Kitchell also live in Palestine, daughters.

James Wilson, the oldest son of Presley Wilson, now resides in Las Aniamas, Colorado, is married and has two children.

William Wickliff Wilson, another son of Presley is also in Colorado, has never been married.

James Wilson, father of Nancy Shepherd, was born in 1768, in Virginia and died in Palestine, August 1822. He was buried in the cemetary south east of Palestine 3/4 of a mile. A head stone marks the grave.

Hannah Wilson, whose maiden name was Jamison, mother of Nancy Shepherd was born in Culpepper County, Virginia in the year 1769. She died in Danville, Illinois in the summer of 1835, and is buried in the cemetary north of the city, on the west side near the grave of John Alexander. A tomb stone marks the grave of each. Her father was wealthy for people of her day. He investigated largely in continental money which depreciated and he lost nearly all his fortune.

John C. Alexander represented Crawford County, Clark and Lawrence in the legislature for two or three terms. These counties being entitle to a joint Representative at that day. He was frequently delegate to the Democratic State Conventions. At a Convention held at Vandalia he was the means of the introduction of Stephen A. Douglas as a speaker and debator, which was the opportunity that led up to his great success later. Douglas appreciated the favor and always afterwards was a staunch friend.

Dr. Alexander was regarded as a very successful physician and surgeon. In the summer of 1826, a prominent surgeon for that day, residing in Vincennes was called to Palestine to operate on a Mrs. Stewart for an abdominal tumor. After consulting with the attending physician Dr. Alexander, the "French Physician" declined to operate, but on the supplication of the patient and friends, prevailed on him to undertake the operation. The operation was successful, the declining physician remaining to see and assisting. The woman was living at the time this statement was made near Robinson, Illinois.

The country south and east of Palestine was noted and feared for the frequency of a disease then and now known "Milksickness". This diesease had up to a certain period been almost always fatal to any person who had contracted it. At that day it was generally considered to be caused by a mineral poison, taken into the system with the water. Dr. Alexander favored the belief that it was of vegtable origin and was remarkably successful in the treatment by bleeding, castor oil and whiskey. This treatment was soon adopted by the physicians of that country with beter success than any former medication. It is the popular course at this time in that country 46 years since its adoption.

Angeline Alexander, daughter of John and Nancy Alexander was born in Palestine on the tenth of May 1823. She took a thorough course of study at the Catholic school at Vincennes, Ind. She was married to the Rev. Eraatus W. Thayer at Palestine 23th 1843. She has had five children, three daughters, and two sons. The youngest daughter Fanny Ida, is the only living child, she is about 15 years old. Her father is a Presbyterian Minister, at present retired. He has very superior educational accomplishments, particularly in the languages; speaking and teaching Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Frech and Spanish. They reside on their farm in Sangamon Co. Illinois.

David Wesley Alexander, another son was born in Palestine on the 4th of March 1830. He was afflicted with cataract for which he was operated on by Dr. Cobb, of Cincinnati, but the operation did not restore his sight. He was in the Jacksonville Institute for the Blind for a number of years. He became quite proficient as a brush maker. He possesed musical talent to a remarkable degree. His death occured at Palestine in September 1863 and was buried in the "Grove".

James Wilson Alexander, was born in Palestine, on the 12th of May 1832, and died at Mrs. Charles Ruddel's in the town of Marshall, January 2nd 1854. He was taken sick away from home and died within 24 hours. He was a promising youth and for one of his age a remarkable scholar. He was probably buried at Marshall, Illinois.

Nancy Jane Alexander, was born in Palestine, October 16th, 1832. Married to Jacob Harness on Lamotte Prairie, Jan. 1854. She lived near Hutsonville until her death December 1st, 1858. She left one child Flora Bell, two years old. She married Howard Lutes on November 8th, 1874. She is the mother of twin girls named Maud and Mable Lutes.

William Faithian Alexander, named for Dr. Fithian of Danville, Illinois and Guy Smith Alexander, named for Guy Smith, who married Jerretta Wilson, were born at Danville, Illinois, December 4th, 1839. William died on Lamotte Prairie October 7th, 1847 and was buried at the "Grove".

Guy Smith Alexander attended the schools at Palestine until he was 16 years old, after which he taught country schools until he recruited a company and enlisted in the Civil War. He had been reading law for one year. On the organization of the company he was elected Second Lieutenant of Company "F" and assigned to the 62nd Regt. of Illinois, Vol. under the command of Colonel True. Was soon promoted to First Lieutenant, detailed and appointed Adjutant of the regiment. He was placed on the staff of Gen. Steel, then in command of the army of the Arkansas. Again promoted to the rank of Captain, later to Major, and finally mustered out as Inspector General with the rank of Lietenant Colonel. After serving four years he returned to Palestine, to resume the study of law. He took a law course in Chicago and returned to Robinson. He practiced his profession in Robinson up to his death in May 25th 1876. He was married to Rhoda Decker, daughter of John Decker, on Lamotte Prairie on September 3rd 1867. There are four children, named John Caldwell, William Decker, Frankie Linton, and Carrie Belle. The oldest 8, and the youngest 2 years. They are living in Robinson.

When Guy Smith Alexander was mustered out of the military service, he was not quite 21 years old, and was probably the youngest officer in the Union holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as staff officer. He was mustered out on November 30th.

John Caldwell Alexander, son of Guy Smith Alexander is married and has children. He lives in Robinson.

William Decker Alexander is also married and is living temporarily at Indianapolis, Indiana.

Additional:

John Houston Alexander, was married to Mary M. Tarkington, near Greensburgh, Indiana, on the 9th day of December 1860. To them was born one daughter, on the 13th day of October 1862 and died February 17th 1864.

John Tarkington Alexander was born at Clifty, Decatur County, on the 5th of August, 1865.

John T. Alexander and Claudia Hill were married in Decatur County, Indiana on the 25th day of September, 1901. They have no children.

Joseph H. Alexander was born at Clifty, Decatur County, Indiana on the 25th day of August, 1866. He was named for Harmon Alexander of Palestine.

Joseph Harmon Alexander and Myrilla Anderson were married in Indianapolis in May.

Margret June Alexander was born in Indianapolis in Feb. 28th, 1894.

Additional:

The following statement is furnished by Wm. Alexander of Palestine, Illinois, who says that he,

Wm. Alexander and Elizabeth Alexander are the only surviving issue of Harmon Alexander and Jerretta Wilson Alexander, whose mother was a daughter of Judge Joseph Kitchell before mentioned.

Wm. Alexander married, with four surviving children viz:

Clifford Harmon Alexander, who married a very estimable lady of good parentage, named Ruth G. Gudgel of Hazelton, Indiana, now living at Herrin Illinois.

Frank Wilson Alexander, who married a very estimable lady of good parentage, named Mignonne Phillips, of Palestine, Illinois, now living at Louisville, Illinois.

Betsey Ann Alexander and M. R. Alexander unmarried and living at home at Palestine, Illinois.

Elizabeth Alexander (daughter at Harmon), married a gentleman named W. G. Eaton of Robinson, Illinois, where she now lives.

This last written by M. R. Alexander, year of 1941.

Wm. Alexander, son of Harmon, died December 21st, 1940. Buried at Palestine, Illinois.

Cliff Alexander, son of Wm. Alexander had two children, Clifford and Anna Jean. Cliff died and buried in Chicago. Anna Jean buried in Chicago.

Frank is living in Kansas City.

Bess died and buried at Palestine, Illinois.

M. R. married (Sibyl Gee) of Edmond, Oklahoma. Have three children, Maxine, Mildred, F. D.

Maxine married Glenn Killey of Altus, Okla. He is 1st Lieutenant at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Mildred, married J. H. Hodges. Have one child (John Ray Hodge) living at Downing, California.

Farris Dale unmarried, living at home, Norman, Oklahoma.

A sister and brother of Hannah Wilson still lived in Virginia a few years ago, and were said to be very wealthy. Hannah Wilson had always enjoyed excellent health up to her last illness which lasted but one week and was caused by exposure at a camp meeting.

Dr. John Caldwell Alexander, was born in Montgomery County, Kentucky, August 1st 1797. He attended the medical lectures at the Transylvania University, at Lexington, getting a "Certificate" he began the practice of medicine with his preceptor, Dr. Walker of Mt. Sterling before he was 20 years old. He located permanently at Palestine in 1822. In 1833 he received the appointment of Register of the Land Offive at Danville, Illinois, which position he retained up to his death August 7th, 1841. He had canvassed the state successfully as a stump speaker in both campaigns in which General Jackson was elected.

 


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