JEFFERSON COUNTY IL 
BIOGRAPHIES
HALBERT J. SHEEKS


Halbert J. Sheeks was known far and near for his prize watermelons. He had a 
sand farm near White Pines. This river was crossed every year to what was known 
as Sheeks Reunion, but everyone really came from far and near for the delicious 
pig and sheep that had been cooked over a large pit all night. Men roasted the 
animals by turning them over and over on a large steel pole. Halbert J. Sheeks 
was the son of David L. Sheeks who raised his sister's son, Sam Bass. Laura Sallee 
Sheeks, still living at age 87, was known for her guitar music. Her children and 
grandchildren still remember her rendition of "The Chicago Fire" and "The Spanish Fandango". 
All 8 of Laura and Henry's children were born in Indiana. The Sallee family survived 
a cyclone which hit their home in Bedford, Indiana about 1929. Their home there was 
in Lawrence Co., and they later moved to Oakland, Ill., Douglas Co .. for a short time 
before moving to Jefferson Co. in Mt. Vernon, Ill. The name Salle is believed to have 
been taken from the famous name. laSalle. 

Following Henry's death, Laura lived alone on her farm until her failing health 
forced her to sell her beloved farm. The 1957 tornado almost wiped out everything 
she owned, even the cattle were so crippled that they had to be destroyed. She had 
her home repaired, and continued to live there for some time.  She attended East Salem 
Church faithfully.

It was in the spring of 1935 when Laura and Henry moved to Jefferson Co. to an 80 acre 
farm now known as Green Acres. Their 8 children are all still living: in Oakland, Norris 
City, Bluford, Decatur, Fairmont, and Mt. Vernon. The grand­children are scattered over 
several states, and have various talents, some musicians, singing, dancing, writing, and 
three became well known basketball players. 
Henry Sallee was born in 1882, the son of James Alonzo Sallee and Catherine Luck Bright. 
He died in 1954 and is buried at East Salem Cemetery. His mother was the daughter of Harry 
Bright of Lincoln Co. Ky. He owned a large plantation there and purchased a slave there for 
$900 just one day before the slaves were freed. The first ancestor of the Lawrence Co. Brights 
has been traced to the little Lutheran Church of Schreissheim in the Palatinate Village, in 
the late 16th century. Laura Nora Sheeks Sallee was born in 1889, the daughter of Halbert J. 
Sheeks and Ella Fields Sheeks. 



Facts & Folks
Submitted by Sandy Whalen Bauer


 
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