HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS
& HISTORY OF MORGAN COUNTY
Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1906.




  

MATTINGLY, SHELTON J., (deceased), one of the oldest and worthiest of the pioneer settlers of the vicinity of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., who had made his home on the same farm continuously for nearly fifty years, was born in Washington County, Ky., June 22, 1817, and died November 24, 1905, aged eighty-eight years, five months and two days. He was a son of William and Nancy Mattingly, also natives of Washington County, Ky. William Mattingly died when Shelton was an infant, leaving two children. His widow was married sometime afterward to Reuben Bird, and in the fall of 1824 the family moved to Morgan County, Ill., settling about nine miles north of Jacksonville on a tract of Government land. There Mr. Bird died in the fall of 1826, leaving his widow and four children in straitened circumstances.

Mrs. Bird at once set to work at her loom to save sufficient money, aside from that required in the support of her family, to pay the indebtedness on the Government land on which she lived. Many of the old settlers can testify to her deftness and celerity in weaving, and in less than a year, she had $70 in cash stowed away in a teapot which was placed on a high self in the cabin. Nearly all the land in that vicinity was then entered, but Mrs. Bird was so highly respected that she was allowed to hold a squatter's claim. In the fall of 1827, however, prospectors desirous of securing lands, informed her that they had selected the tract on which she lived. After they refused to come to terms for the improvements made on the place, and resisted her many entreaties not to disturb her, she informed them that but $30 yet remained on the sum required to clear the tract, and they agreed to allow her one more day to secure that amount.

It was then late in the evening, and it was a difficult matter to borrow money on short notice. The case seemed almost hopeless, particularly, as, even if successful in securing it so hurriedly, a quick trip must be made to Springfield to perfect the transaction. Mrs. Bird, however, was not discouraged. She had an arduous journey before her and dark clouds covered the sky, but she set about her preparations with characteristic determination. Telling Shelton, who was then ten years old, to bring "Old Black" she hurriedly made her preparations for the trip. "Old Black," as many of the old settlers remember, was a noble animal, being nearly eighteen hands high, and very muscular. After the darkness of night settled down, Mrs. Bird, on her faithful steed, started for the head of Indian Creek, a distance of twelve miles, to borrow the required $30. Although it rained continuously, she succeeded in reaching that point without mishap and obtained the money.

Early next morning, she started for Springfield on the trusty animal. The roads were very heavy, but noon found her at Spring Creek, three miles west of Springfield. The storm of the previous night had swollen the stream and washed away the bridge, leaving but one stringer. Nothing daunted Mrs. Bird took the bridle rein, intending to walk over on the only remaining piece of timber and let "Old Black" swim across. Instead of swimming, however, the horse walked on the same timber, both performing the feat in safety. Soon afterward Mrs. Bird arrived at the Land Office, and on counting over the money, the Receiver, Mr. Enos, found a counterfeit dollar. Mrs. Bird borrowed a dollar from him to make up the deficit, and after partaking of his hospitality-which was very limited, as the whole family cooked, worked and slept in the same room-at three o'clock started for home, with her difficult task accomplished and her mind relieved of a great weight.

Mrs. Bird lived to see her children grown up and comfortably situated, and to do many acts of kindness and benevolence, not only for her own family, but her neighbors. She was a pioneer member of the Methodist Church, and always zealous in the Christian cause. She died in 1856, universally beloved and lamented, at the age of seventy-three years.

Shelton J. Mattingly, her son, lived on the old farm to the last, and was one of the few among the pioneers of that region who had occupied the same place for a period so extended. He was a sincere Christian, one of the best of neighbors, and highly respected and cordially esteemed by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance.


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