HISTORY
OF
MENARD & MASON COUNTIES, ILLINOIS
1879

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

SETTLEMENTS OF INDIAN CREEK

Transcribed by: Ellen Booth.

Page 369

This precinct was settled mostly from Kentucky, with a few Virginians thrown in to perfect the state of society. The following recruits were received from the old Blue Grass State: James Short, Solomon Taylor, Robert and James Bracken, Andrew Trumbo, John Moore and sons, Robert White, William McDougall, Abraham Hornback and sons, Elijah Scott, Francis Rayburn, William Brewer and son, Samuel Rogers and son, Alexander Crawford, David Onstott, John Pentecost and sons, Michael Killion, William Denton, William and James Estill, Coleman Smoot, Hamilton Elliott, Isaiah Low, and perhaps, others. James Short is supposed to have been the first white man to settle in the present precincts of Indian Creek. He located here in 1824, and, in 1828, removed to Sangamon County. Solomon Taylor came in about 1828. He is still living; resides in the village of Greenview, and is, perhaps, the second oldest living settler of this precinct. Robert and James Bracken, brothers, came in 1826-27. Robert died here, but his widow is still living on the place where her husband settled more than fifty-years ago, and is in her eighty-first year. She is a sister to Walter Turner, in Athens Precinct. James Bracken removed to Missouri. Andrew Trumbo came in 1828-29, and died in the neighborhood some years ago. Solomon Taylor's wife having also died, Mr. Taylor and Mrs. Trumbo were recently married, and though a rather aged couple to embark, or, rather, to re-embark on the sea of matrimony, it is said to have been an excellent arrangement for both, and that they are living comfortable together in Greenview. John Moore and his five stalwart sons, John, Joseph, Andrew, Samuel and William, came in 1828. They were a fine family, and ranked among the prominent people of the neighborhood. The old gentleman and most of the family are dead. William and Joseph, we believe, are all that are left. The latter lives in DeWitt County and Joseph in this county. Robert White came about 1826-27, and was monarch of all he surveyed, from where he located to the mouth of Salt Creek, no family having squatted between the two points. He died here many years ago. William McDougall came about the same time, and was a son-in-law of White. He died a few months ago at the age of seventy-two years. Elijah Scott came here about 1825-26. He moved away some twenty-five or thirty years ago. Abraham Hornback and his sons, John, Jesse and Andrew, came about 1826. The old gentleman is long since dead, as well as most of the others, except Andrew, who lives in this precinct. Francis Rayburn came in 1828. He finally died in Iowa, to which State he removed some time before. William Brewer and his son, John Brewer, came about 1827-28. Both died in this precinct. Samuel Rogers and his son, Joseph Rogers, came about 1825. They also died in the precinct. Squire Godby relates the following anecdote in which he and Joseph Rogers were actors: Rogers was a Captain of the militia, and, as such, used to call the "able-bodied citizens" together for the purpose of "muster." At one of these periodical musters, Godby failed to put in an appearance, for which delinquency, Rogers had him appointed Fourth Corporal in his company. Soon after this, Rogers returned to Kentucky, where he remained some time. Several other officers died, moved away or resigned, so that Godby, the Fourth Corporal of the company, became the senior officer. In this state of affairs, the Black Hawk war broke out, and the Governor made his call for troops, when this company presented the novel spectacle of being commanded by its Fourth Corporal. But, bearing his "blushing honors" with becoming dignity, he summoned the company together, called for volunteers, made up the requisite number, sent them to the front, and then, Cincinnatus-like, returned to his plow.

Alexander Crawford came in 1827, and died here some twenty-five or thirty years ago. David Onstott came as early as 1825, and erected a mill and distillery, which is noticed on another page. He was a character that could not be surrounded, as an old gentleman expressed it to us, and as people moved in, he gathered together his worldly goods and took up his journey to a far county---to Arkansas, it is believed. He said he had waded through h- - l to get here, and did not propose to be crowded, so he again struck out for the wilderness when people got too thick around him. Coleman Smoot bought him out in this settlement. John Pentecost and three sons, William, Henry and John, came in 1827. They were originally from Virginia, but immigrated to Kentucky in early times, whence they came to Illinois, as above. They are all dead or moved away from the precinct. William Denton came in 1830, and died here many years ago. Michael Killion came in 1830. He lived in the Moore neighborhood, and came from the same section that they came from. He died here years ago. When Squire Godby settled here, in 1830, he built his cabin on the prairie, about half a mile from the timber, and Killion remarked that "that -----fool Virginian would freeze to death so far from the timber." William Estill, a brother-in-law of Killion's came about 1825-26. He is still living, and in his eighty-fifth year, quite an active old man, and the oldest living settler in the precinct. James Estill, his brother, was also among the early settlers, and died long ago. Hamilton Elliott and two sons, Richard and Hadden, came in 1830-31. Richard removed to Fulton County. He is described as an enterprising man, speculated considerably, and, as our informant expressed it, "would risk his life for a coon-skin." He finally went to California, and amassed quite a fortune. Hiram Chapin and Benjamin Day came very early, but did not remain long in the settlement. William Day was another of the early ones. He was a brother to Benjamin. The latter gentleman had entered the ferry on Salt Creek, where the State road from Springfield to Havana crossed, and when William came a few years later, he took charge of this place. He finally moved to Iowa. Coleman Smoot came about 1831, and bought out Onstott. He is dead, and his son, William C. Smoot, lives on the old homestead. The elder Smoot was an enterprising farmer, a prominent man, and accumulated a handsome property. His son is also a man of wealth and influence in the community. Isaiah Low came in 1831-32, and a few years ago moved to Iowa. These settlers, so far as names are given, all came from Kentucky to Illinois. Though some of them, and perhaps a majority, were originally from Virginia, as Kentucky was settled principally by Virginians. Squire Godby informed us that when he came to the country, he "squatted right in a nest of Kentuckians, and as jolly good fellows, too, as ever lived."

From Virginia, the venerable mother of Presidents, the following additions were made to the Indian Creek settlement: Russell Godby, Isaac Snodgrass, Fielding Ballard, William Sampson, with, probably, a few others. Godby came in the spring of 1830, and his first winter here was that of the "deep snow," which cast something of a damper (particularly when it began to melt off in the spring) upon the feelings with which he had regarded the fine prairies of Illinois, as compared to the red hills of "Old Virginny." He was the first man in the present precinct of Indian Creek who settled outside of the timber, and he did not venture very far from its shelter. He still lives upon the place of his original settlement, and is one of the prominent and leading men of the neighborhood, and was one of the early Justices of the Peace. Although his bodily health is failing, his mental condition appears as strong as if still in the noontide of manhood, and we acknowledge our indebtedness to him for many facts connected with this precinct and its early settlement. Messers. Snodgrass and Ballard were brothers-in-law to Godby, and came the same year. The former gentleman lives now in Salt CreekTownship, in Mason County. Ballard, though originally from Virginia, had emigrated to Indiana, where he resided for a few years before coming to this county, and, upon his arrival here, bought the claim of Joseph Rogers. He died in this precinct. Sampson came to the Indian Creek settlement several years before Godby, Snodgrass and Ballard, probably about 1826-27. He remained a resident of the precinct until his death, which occurred about 1870. Philip Barnett was an Eastern man, and a brother- -in-law to Godby. These four gentlemen, vis., Godby, Snodgrass, Ballard and Barnett, married sisters. Barnett died a few years ago in Fulton County. John King came from North Carolina in 1826-27. He was born in 1775, and died at the advanced age of one hundred and one years and twenty-nine days. A soldier of 1812, and of the Indian wars of the South, under Gen. Jackson, he was a firm believer in and a devoted admirer of Old Hickory to the end of his life. When he first came to Illinois (1821), he settled in the southern part of the State, where he resided until his settlement in this section, as given above. Before his death, he and Tarlton Lloyd, of Rock Creek Precinct, were the only relics left in Menard County of the war of 1812. His death leaves Mr. Lloyd like "the last rose of summer, blooming alone." Dedman Powers was an early settler, but of him not much could be learned. William Duff came in 1827-28, but where from no one could tell. He is mentioned as a "hard old customer," rough, profane, and a poor acquisition to the settlement, any way. He remained but a few years, and then moved away. John Clary came to the settlement very early, and was attending Onstott's mill when Squire Godby came in. He was probably from Tennessee; has a son still living in Menard County, but the old gentleman has been dead several years. This brings the settlement of Indian Creek down to a period when the tide of immigration poured in with such volume and force as to baffle the historian's skill to keep pace with it, and we will not attempt it further, but turn our attention to other items in its history.


1879 Index

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