Old Settlers’ Picnic.
Big Dinner, Interesting Speeches and a General Good Time.
Originally Published in the Kendall County Record, June 24, 1891.
Edited and Compiled by Elmer Dickson.
At the picnic in August last year of the old settlers of Kendall County, a resolution was adopted fixing the time for holding their annual gatherings on the third Thursday in June of each year. The change in time was made with a view to better accommodate those engaged in agricultural pursuits, who in August usually have the most busy time of the year, harvesting and threshing the golden grain from the fertile soil of the most beautiful county in the great State of Illinois. How time flies! It hardly seems possible that almost a year has passed since in August 1890, the annual picnic of the pioneers of this county took place, and that the time has rolled around when they should meet again in their most favorite gathering. To the early settlers their gathering is as important as the Fourth of July celebration to young America. But last Thursday reminded the writer that such was the case. And an eventful year it has been. Not that more great achievements have been accomplished than usual, but the intervening between the two last meetings of the sturdy early settlers of this county has marked an era in history in which more of their number have passed away than ever before in a single year. Death has been in our midst, and the harvest was great; many kind and familiar faces were missed from the crowd, but they are, happy now on the other shore; the only better place to live than Kendall County.
But, thanks to the good habits and vigorous constitutions of the honored pioneers of this county, and the most healthful qualities of the atmosphere of the Fox River valley, there are still left to commingle together on occasions of this kind, a great many people whom to gaze upon you would scarcely suspect had seen their allotted three score years and ten.
The outlook in the morning was that it would be a rainy day, but as time passed on the aspect grew more cheerful; the first arrivals may be said to have been by the 8:40 train from the west, bringing a good number from Newark, Millington, Millbrook, Ottawa and other towns in that direction: they came in well-filled vehicles from all points of the compass until the average sized crowd seen upon the Fair Grounds on these occasion had assembled. The 10:38 train from Aurora also brought delegations from that place and Oswego, among whom was Honorable A. J. Hopkins, the speaker for the day.
The people were entertained with music by the Yorkville City band until the hour of eleven o’clock arrive, when they were called to order in Agricultural Hall by President Milton E. Cornell. Ample seats had been erected to accommodate the crowd. A fervent prayer was made by Reverend Henry F. Gilbert of Pavilion, and Professor and Mrs. Marcellus Evans sang a song n a delightful manner; John Fitzgerald then delivered the address of welcome in an eloquent manner, and the meeting adjourned until two o’clock.
Nothing more can be said of the dinner than that it was a repetition of the same feature of former picnics. We cannot say that the meats were any more juicy, that the pastry was made in a more masterly manner, that the fruit was any sweeter and delicious than on previous occasions, for the good housewives of Kendall County, besides being the best looking women, are also the best cooks on earth, and the products of the farm and garden were always such that they could not be beaten. The various little groups scattered over the grounds, under the fine shade trees and in the different buildings, as they enjoyed the dinner hour, was a sight to gladden the soul. The only oppression we heard spoken of at this time by our farmer friends was caused by too much pressure in the region of their breadbaskets.
Dinner being over, the crowd reassembled in Agricultural Hall to listen to the afternoon exercises. President Cornell introduced to respond to the address of welcome, Honorable A. J. Hopkins of Aurora, Member of Congress from the 5th District of this state, who by his happy vein of talk at once made himself popular with his listeners. He considered it an honor, and well he might, to have the privilege of addressing the pioneers of Kendall County, the men who had helped change this great commonwealth from a howling wilderness to a front seat in the sisterhood of states. He paid a glowing tribute to the characters of the noble men and women who had accomplished this. The Congressman talked for about an hour in an eloquent manner, keeping his listeners good natured with many pleasant anecdotes of olden times.
At the conclusion of Mr. Hopkins’ speech, Judge Stinson of Sandwich spoke for a few minutes; he was a resident of Little Rock Township back in the 1840’s, we believe, after which he moved over into De Kalb County where he has since lived. He used to take an active part in politics and was a delegate to the Republican convention which first nominated Owen Lovejoy for Congress.
A great treat was in store for the members of the old 36th Illinois Volunteer Infantry who were present. Their old commander, Colonel Greusel of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, gave a short speech saying that he had come to this occasion to see the fathers and mothers of the men whom he had led in battle. The Colonel took away from here twelve hundred of as brave boys as ever wore the blue, and those who are left and heard him talk will honor him all the more for the complimentary way in which he spoke of the fighting qualities of the old 36th.
Irus Coy of Chicago and was called for; and stepped upon the platform to say that he had not come to make a speech, but to shake hands and visit with old neighbors. He still has kind feeling toward Kendall County.
The Death Roll.
And now comes the sad part of the program, being the report of the Secretary, John A. Newell, showing thirty-five deaths of old settlers since the last picnic. Surely they are swiftly passing away. Here is the report:
Big Grove, Aaron Petty, died August 19, 1890 in the 80th year of his age; he came to Kendall County in 1844.
Bristol, Jacob Wheeler died August 22, 1890 in his 76th year of his age; he came to Kendall County in 1847.
Fox, Mrs. Ann Eliza (Springer) Greenfield died September 16, 1890, in the 58 year of her age; she came to this county in 1842.
Kendall, John Litsey died September 30, 1890, in the 78th year of his age; he came to this county first in 1833, and settled in the county in 1836.
Big Grove, Lars Nelson died September 30, 1890, in the 72 year of his age; he came to Kendall County in 1838.
Kendall, Almon P. Ashley, died October 19, 1890, in the 67th year of age; he came to Kendall County in 1835.
Kendall, Robert Lormor, died October 25, 1890, aged 70 years; he came to Kendall County in 1842.
Bristol, Daniel Haigh died November 4, 1890, in the 89th year of his age, he came to this county in 1847.
Bristol, John Smith died November 2, 1890, aged 77 years; he came to this county in 1845.
Oswego, Dr. Daniel B. Jewell, Sr. died November 2, 1890, aged 82 years; he came to this county in 1839.
Big Grove, Mrs. Mary Gilman Petty died December 12, 1890, aged 76 years; she came to this county in 1844.
Bristol, Leonard Mabbott died December 18m 1890, aged 74 years; he came to this county in 1843.
Fox, Tunis Serrine died January 11, 1891, aged 48 years; he was born in this county.
Lisbon, Mrs. Elizabeth Pletcher died January 23, 1891, aged 79 years; she came to this county in 1854.
Bristol, Mrs. Louisa Wheeler died January 24, 1891, aged 79 years; she came to this county in 1847.
Kendall, Mrs. Elizabeth Armbruster died February 2, 1891, aged 75 years; she came to this county in 1854.
Kendall, Mrs. Jannette Harkness died February 26, 1891 in the 90th year of her age; she came to this county in the spring of 1849.
NaAuSay, Mrs. Alanson K. Wheeler died March 5, 1891, in the 91st year of her age; she came to this county in 1846.
Seward, Mrs. Relief Bryant died March 11, 1891 in the 87th year of her age; she came to this county in 1839.
Bristol, Mrs. Louisa Healy died March 15, 1891, aged 64 years; she came to this county in 1855.
Oswego, William H. Wormley died March 19, 1891, aged 86 years; he came to this county in 1833.
Big Grove, Anthony Badgley died March 21, 1891, in the 84 year of his age; he came to this county in 1850.
Bristol, Mrs. Elizabeth A. McOwen died March 24, 1891, in her 57th year; she came to this county in 1845.
Bristol, Mrs. Catharine Young died March 25, 1891, aged 90 years, lacking two days; she came to this county in 1845.
Little Rock, Jedediah Lincoln died April 1, 1891, aged 95 years, lacking two days; he came to this county in June 1839.
Bristol, Matthew Patterson died April 2, 1891 in the 79th year of his age; he came to this county in 1837.
Fox, Robert Barron died April 11, 1891, in the 71st year of his age; he came to this county in 1845.
Lisbon, Dr. Gilman Kendall died April 20, 1891 in the 88th year of his age; he came to this county in 1834.
Kendall, Thomas Penman died April 21, 1891 in the 77th year of his age; he came to this county in 1839.
Kendall, Mrs. Cordelia Penman (Mrs. Thomas) died April 22, 1891, in the 64th year of her age; she came to this county in 1844.
Fox, Catharine Bullard died April 27, 1891, in the 58th year of her age; she came to this county in 1834.
Seward, James Brady died April 18, 1891, in his 78th year; he came to this county in 1838.
Kendall, Christian Johnson died May 1, 1891, in the 68th year of his age; he came to this county in 1843.
Lisbon, Maria Michaeles died June 3, 1891, age 80 years; she came to this county in 1836.
Kendall, Huldah Edmonson died June 9, 1891, aged 80 years; she came to this county in 1842.
The election of officers resulted in the selection of Aaron Boomer of Bristol for President: John A. Newell was retained as Secretary.
There was a slight fall of rain during a good portion of the afternoon exercises, but it did not seriously affect the enjoyment of the occasion, as there was ample shelter for all.
The attendance was not as large as had been expected, as the prospect of rain in the morning was such as to keep many from a distance from coming, but those who were present had a splendid time.
Mrs. Moses McNamee was up from Streator to visit old friends.
Sim Brown had a big load of folks over from Big Grove, and they were all mighty good folks.
Daniel and Mrs. Platt were as happy to greet so many neighbors as the people were to see them out.
Nathan Carr Mighell enjoyed Mr. Hopkins speech, especially his stories of the Yankees. N. C. is a Vermonter.
The Honorable Andrew Welch, wife and daughter were kept busy shaking hands and chatting with old friends. Andy is always sociable.
The Honorable Samuel R. Lewis and wife from near Ottawa were present. He was a member of the State Senate with the editor of the Record and we remember him as ne of the best men in Illinois. He is an early settler, coming to this state in the 1830’s; a thrifty and honorable farmer. His good wife has been an admirable helpmate.
James Ferris of the Joliet News was on the ground and gave us a “write –up” in his paper, saying;
“The old settlers of Kendall County held their annual picnic and reunion on the Fair Grounds at Yorkville yesterday, not withstanding, the weather clerk failed to do his handsomest, the event was a big success. There was a large attendance of the old pioneers of that vicinity, many former residents coming from abroad.
The principal address of the day was made by Congressman Hopkins. A speech that was listened to with a great deal of interest was made by Colonel Greusel. He was the gallant commander of the old Thirty-sixth Illinois, one of the best battalions that went forth to battle. He marched out of the county at the head of 1,200 men and did valiant service. At the battle of Stone River, where forty of his men were wounded and a large number killed, the colonel took off his coat and found it riddled with bullet holes.
The Colonel said he wasn’t a prohibitionist, but his talk indicated very plainly that he was far from being a whiskey man. His regiment was composed wholly of farmers’ boys, and he said they made the best soldiers. They learned easily and had nothing to unlearn. They were not addicted to whiskey like the city chaps. That is not necessary to good fighting,” said the Colonel.
“The News editor took dinner with Charles E. Lane now of the Kendall County Record, but formerly of the News. He is doing fine, and Mrs. Lane and the children are rosy and healthy as can be.”
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