HISTORY
OF
MENARD & MASON COUNTIES, ILLINOIS
1879

Chicago: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street
Chicago

EDUCATIONAL AND RELIGIOUS.

Transcribed by: Ellen Booth.

Page 372

One of the first moves made by the pioneer, after securing a claim and erecting a cabin to shelter his family was in the direction of education and religious worship. A school was taught in this settlement as early as the summer of 1830, in a vacant cabin on the premises of Samuel Rogers. It was taught by John Pentecost, who walked distance of three and a half miles to and from the scene of his labors. The next school was by Dr. David Meeker, who taught in an old house belonging to Coleman Smoot. The first regular schoolhouse built in the present bounds of Indian Creek Precinct was on land belonging now to William Smoot, and was of the primitive pioneer schoolhouse pattern. It was built about 1833, and Silas Alexander was the first pedagogue who presided over the young ideas within its classic walls. In this log cabin, known as the "Smoot Schoolhouse," many of the youth of the neighborhood (now old men) took their first lessons in Webster's spelling-book, and in the art of shooting paper wads. The precinct now has five excellent brick schoolhouses conveniently located in its territory, in which every child may receive a good English education, sufficient to fit him for the ordinary walks of life.

The first minister who proclaimed the Gospel in this section was the Rev. John Berry, a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher from the Rock Creek settlement. He was Pastor of the New Lebanon Church, near the line-of the precinct, which was one of the first places of worship of the people of this settlement. In 1843, a society of this denomination was organized at New Market, a village now extinct, but at one time entertaining rather lofty pretensions. This society was organized by Revs. J.R. Torrence and A.H. Goodpasture, with the latter preacher as its first spiritual director. It was known as the "New Market Congregation" for a period of five years, and increased during the time from membership of thirty to seventy communicants. It was then moved to the Knowles Schoolhouse, and from that time until its removal to the village of Greenview, about 1858-60, was known as the "Bethel Congregation." The remainder of its history is given in the chapter devoted to Greenview. A society of Baptists was organized in the precinct before the Cumberland Presbyterian organization, above described, by the Rev. John Antle, who was the first divine of that denomination in this section. It was originally held in a schoolhouse, but, like the Presbyterians, removed to Greenview upon the laying-out of that village. These are all the church organizations of Indian Creek Precinct. Although there are no church edifices within its borders, there are a number scattered around it in other and adjoining precincts.

The first mill in this immediate vicinity was built by David Onstott, away back in the twenties, but just what time we could not learn. Squire Godby says it was in full blast when he came to the settlement in the spring of 1830, and had a small copper still attached, such, perhaps, as are used by the "moonshiners" of the present day in Tennessee and North Carolina. It was a small affair, and worked up the superfluous corn into spititus frumenti, which was consumed by the pioneers nearly as fast as it was made, as an antidote (!) for snakebites. The mill was propelled by horsepower, and served the purpose of making hominy and meal for the neighborhood. This, we believe, is the extent of the mill business in this precinct. Since the burning of the Greenview mills, most of the people of this community patronize the mills of Petersburg.

The first birth and marriage are forgotten, but as everything must have a beginning, these had a beginning in Indian Creek Precinct, as the present population will go to show. The first death is supposed to have been the mother of Fielding Ballard, who came to the settlement in 1830. He brought his mother with him, who was quite aged, and who died the next year. The first physician in the settlement was a Dr. Walker, but he did not remain very long. Whence he came or whither he went, we did not learn. Dr. David Meeker was the next doctor, and combined school teaching with the practice of medicine. In those days, people did not send for a doctor on all occasions, as they do now; consequently had less sickness-no offense to the medical fraternity intended-and fewer doctors' bills to pay. The first blacksmith-shop in the neighborhood was opened in the now extinct village of New Market by two men named George Saunders and William F. Rogers. Coleman Smoot was the first Justice of the Peace, and Russell Godby the second in the precinct. The name of Indian Creek was obtained from the creek flowing along the southwest boundary, and emptying into the Sangamon River at the corner of this precinct, Sandridge and Petersburg. The name was applied to the creek in memory of some of the tribes of Indians that once occupied the country.

Politically, Indian Creek Precinct is Democratic. During the late war, it was patriotic, as all other portions of Menard County. And turned out a large number of soldiers-shoulder-straps as well as muskets. Company K, of the One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, was raised principally in this precinct. The Captain of the company was Samuel Estill; Lucian Terhane, First Lieutenant, and Henry Roggy, Second Lieutenant. Company F, of the Twenty-eighth Regiment of Illinois Infantry, also drew a few men from this precinct. William J. Estill, of Petersburg, a brother of Capt. Estill of Company K, mentioned above, was Captain of a company, and was wounded on the second day's fight at Pittsburg Landing, and came home, leaving the command of the company to Isaac Estill, the First Lieutenant, also a brother. The latter was killed in the battle of Hatchie, Tennessee. Capt. Estill's wound not permitting his return to the army, he finally resigned, and a gentleman from Athens Precinct became Captain of the Company.


1879 Index

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