Illinois, the "Prairie State" lies in the valley of the Mississippi River and the basin of the Great Lakes. Illinois ranks 23rd in size among the states of the Union. The third constitution was adopted in 1870.
The country of the Illinois Indians was first visited by Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette in 1673. The Illinois country remained under British sovereignty until 1763 - tho the British flag was not raised over Fort de Chartres until 1765. In 1744 it became a province of Quebec. On July 4, 1778, during the American Revolution George Rogers Clark captured Kaskaskia and took possession of the whole Illinois country, which he organized as a county of Virginia - thus making Patrick Henry the first American governor of Illinois. The Northwest Territory was organized in 1787 but did not become effective in Illinois until 1790. The first settlement in Chicago was a log cabin built in 1799 by Point de Saible, a Santo Domingan.
In 1800 the Illinois county was made a part of the new Indiana Territory, but in 1809 it was reorganized as the Territory of Illinois with the capital at Kaskaskia. The first territorial legislature convened in 1812.
At the conclusion of the War of 1812 settlers came with a rush so that in 1818 the territory had almost the required 40,000 persons required for admission of the Union.
Nathaniel Pope, a delegate in Congress for Illinois Territory, said the boundary of Illinois should be sixty-one miles north of the southern end of Lake Michigan. Pope wanted Illinois to have some lake frontage. Otherwise, he said she would face southward and her commerce interests would be with the slave states rather than with the free. Her outlet on Lake Michigan would also connect her with the commerce on the Great Lakes and the East. Deep and lasting should be our gratitude to Pope for placing an important amendment to the bill that admitted Illinois as a state. One provided the 3/5 of the 5% fund from the sale of land be devoted to "the encouragement of education" and that 1/6 be used exclusively for the establishment and maintenance of a university or college.
Slavery never flourished in Illinois. In 1810 there were but 168 slaves within the borders of the Territory, and in 1820, with all the increase in population, only 917. When the "Ordinance of 1787", prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory, was passed, many people believed that the institution would disappear from the South as it had from the North.
The Bank of Illinois was established at Shawneetown in 1816. The admission of Illinois as a state was in 1818 - thus we are observing the sesquicentennial of our statehood.
Illinois became a state in 1818. It was formed from Illinois County which was organized by the Virginia House of Delegates in October, 1778.
St. Clair County was created out of Illinois County in 1790 and Madison County was formed from St. Clair County in 1812. Greene County was formed in 1821. Morgan County was established by an act of the General Assembly January 23, 1823 and included what is now Morgan, Cass and Scott Counties. Cass County was set off from Morgan in 1837 and Scott was set off from Morgan in 1839. The last change in the boundaries of Morgan County occurred in May, 1846, when a "three mile strip" was attached to Cass County. In 1835 the boundary between Sangamon and Morgan was settled.
Morgan County is bounded on the North by Cass, on the East by Sangamon, on the West by Scott and the Illinois River and on the South by Greene and Macoupin Counties. It comprises about 563 square miles and at the turn of the century about one-half was wooded and the rest prairie. The main streams are Apple Creek, Mauvaisterre, Indian and Sandy.
From 1837 to 1843 there was much agitation about the formation of a new county composed of portions of Morgan, Greene and Sangamon. The new county would be named Benton. In August, 1843, two votes were taken by the authority of an act of the Legislature, on the proposition of a new county. The proposition did not carry. If the proposition had carried, Waverly, no doubt would have been named as the county seat.
Morgan County, Illinois, was named for Daniel Morgan of Revolutionary War fame. Daniel Morgan, 1736-1802, was probably born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. He moved to Virginia in 1753. Morgan was a veteran of the French and Indian War and raised a company of Virginia riflemen for the Continental Army (1775). He was taken a prisoner at Quebec and in 1776 was exchanged. He joined the operations that led to Burgoynes surrender at Saratoga in 1777. He retired because of illness in 1781. Later he was in command of the Virginia Militia during the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 and was in Congress 1797 - 1799.
The first court in Morgan County was held about six miles southwest of present day Jacksonville at the home of James G. Swinerton. The first Circuit Court was held by Judge John Reynolds. The commissioners selected "Allison's Mound" (present home of Dr. Walter Frank, Jr.) As the temporary seat of justice. In 1825 it was removed to Jacksonville. The first courthouse was built in Jacksonville on the northwest corner of the square in 1826. It was destroyed by fire on Dec. 6, 1827.
During the Illinois Sesquicentennial it is planned to tell the stories of some of the men and women that played an important part in the history of our county - many of whom are not listed in the Morgan County History Book.
The earliest known white settler of Morgan County was Eli Cox. He settled in 1816 in the area that is now Cass County. He staked out a claim and stayed awhile. He left for a time but returned in 1819 and lived on his claim until his death 1880-81.
In 1812 William Wyatt, of Virginia, a Ranger, came through this area in command of a company of troops chasing a band of renegade whites and Indians. Here he met the noted Indian fighter, Charles (Kitchen, (called "Mad Charlie" by the Indians, because of his daring exploits) and his family. After the war was over Mr. Wyatt came back to the Territory and married the younger sister of his friend, Rachel Kitchen, in the year of 1817 in Madison County.
William Wyatt returned to Virginia and when he returned to Illinois he brought back negro slaves and some blooded horses - probably the first brought to the state. In 1819 William and Rachel (Kitchen) Wyatt came to the present Morgan County and settled at the edge of the present day Jacksonville. Rachel Wyatt was the daughter of Don Lon Kitchen of Missouri. She was a most remarkable woman and noted for her beauty of features, her vivacity and excellent character. She first met Mr. Wyatt at Moore's Fort in Madison County, while he was a Ranger. Mr. Wyatt had also been a Captain of a flat and keel boat on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
On September 1, 1822 the first white male child was born in Morgan County - Wilford D. Wyatt. He was the third child of William and Rachel Wyatt. On the same day Sarah Crain was born and she was the first female born in Morgan County.
William Wyatt farmed and raised fine horses. He put up two cabins on his land besides his own home; one was for newcomers in that section until they made homes for themselves and the other to serve as a "meetinghouse". It was used as a church and school.
William Wyatt was an educated man (for his time) and was a surveyor and assisted in the laying out of the town of Jacksonville. On his return from that labor, when his wife asked him what they named the new town, he answered: "For the greatest man that ever lived, Andrew Jackson."
William Wyatt voted to make Illinois a slave state, saying that he did it to save the white women of Illinois from being worked to death; although his wife opposed slavery.
William Wyatt died in 1836. His funeral was delayed so that his third son, Absalom might be buried at the same hour, he having died a few hours after his father. An infant born the day after his death was buried a day or two later. He and his sons are buried on the farm about three miles east of Jacksonville. It is said that William Wyatt broke the first ground in Morgan County, Illinois.
Rachel Wyatt, born February 15, 1798 at St. Genevieve, Missouri, died February 14, 1849. She is buried at Franklin, Illinois. She was the mother of ten children.
"By thy rivers gently flowing,
O'er thy prairies, verdant growing,
Illinois, Illinois . . ."
To these rivers, verdant prairies and wooded areas came pioneers. In this sesquicentennial year we pause to honor the men and women that made Illinois a great state.
One of the early families in Morgan County was the Wyatt family and members of that family were "founding fathers" of Franklin, Alexander and Lincoln, Illinois. They also played a large role in the political, military and educational history in the state.
William Wyatt, the Ranger, came to Illinois at the close of the War of 1812. His son John born Sept. 12, 1819, at Alton, Illinois, was a Lieutenant under Captain Bristol, in the Mexican War. He had yellow fever and had to resign from service. While he was recovering from this severe illness he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1849. He also served as editor of a Greene county paper. He married Sarah Wyatt in 1845.
John Wyatt was instrumental in securing the location and construction of the first railroad in Greene county. Later he was one of the "founding fathers" of Lincoln, Illinois. It is said the material growth and prosperity of Lincoln was due to the wisdom and untiring efforts of Mr. Wyatt. He was truly a pioneer in the advancement of public spirit. He died at Lincoln in 1877 and his wife died in 1869.
Wilford D. Wyatt, said to have been the first white male child born in Morgan County, was the second child of William Wyatt. He attended Illinois College. He was licensed to practice law in 1845 and remained a lawyer (with excursions into journalism) all his life. He lived for a time in Mississippi, Arkansas and Illinois. He went from Mississippi as a Lieutenant in a regiment commanded by Jefferson Davis, to Mexico. He later served as Lt. Colonel in the Union Army, and died in 1905.
Nancy Ann Wyatt, daughter of William Wyatt, married Edward Hinrichsen in 1845. He was the son of German nobility. He opened a general store in Franklin in 1840 and in 1857 laid out the village of Alexander. His son, William H. Hinrichsen, was elected as Secretary of State in 1892 and in 1896 was elected to Congress.
Savillah Wyatt, daughter of William Wyatt, married Col. Robert B. Latham. Col. Latham was one of the "founding fathers" of Lincoln, Illinois and named it for his close friend, Abraham Lincoln. Savillah Wyatt was educated at the Illinois Female Academy at Jacksonville. She was one of the seven charter members of the Belle Lettres Society, one of the first college literary societies in the state. In 1876 she established the Lincoln Art Society and in 1881 was the organizer of the Central Illinois Art Union, the first federation of clubs known. She was also prominent in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Many of the Wyatt family were married by the Rev. Newton Cloud.
When William Wyatt, the Ranger, came to Illinois, his younger brother, John, wanted to accompany him. His parents refused to allow him to make the long journey so John ran away and followed his brother. He feared his parents would reclaim him so left Illinois and went to Kentucky. There he met a cousin, Rebecca Wyatt. They came to Illinois and were married in Madison County on August 17, 1817.
John Wyatt was one of the early Morgan County commissioners and was a member of the legislature from 1832-1838. He was one of the three founders of Franklin, the other two were William Woods and Walter Butler.
John Wyatt early conceived a liking for Stephen A. Douglas and was the one that brought the "Little Giant" into prominence. The story has been told that Josiah Lamborn was a brilliant but erratic lawyer, and was at times given to spells of dissipation. Lamborn was scheduled tp speak on a certain occasion, when it was found that he was in no condition to appear in public. John Wyatt said "Little Douglas is the only man I know that can fill his place." Douglas fully justified Mr. Wyatt's confidence and from that time on was in demand as a party orator in a day when oratory was a power in politics. John Wyatt took an active part in the political life of this area.
During the Mexican War a company of soldiers was sent from Franklin and it was raised largely through the efforts of John Wyatt. He gave a barbecue, which was attended by all the people for miles around. His family used seven barrels of flour to make bread for the barbecue. Two of his sons enlisted in the war.
Speeches were made and the fife and drum made music that stirred the hearts of the people. The company was under the command of Col. John J. Hardin. After the Battle of Buena Vista, Capt. Wm. J. Wyatt, son of John Wyatt, was one of the men that recovered the body of Col. Hardin from the battlefield. Capt. Wyatt sat in the tent that night to guard the body of Col. Hardin and the bodies of two more gallant officers. In later years, Capt. Wyatt said "That evening I entered the tent as a boy - I left the tent in this morning a man." Col. John J. Hardin was first buried on Mexican soil and later his body was removed to East Cemetery, Jacksonville, Illinois.
John Wyatt was born Feb. 3, 1795 in Culpepper County, Virginia, and died January 6, 1849. His first American ancestor was Rev. Hawte Wyatt. Francis Wyatt, brother of Rev. Hawte Wyatt, was the first Governor of Virginia. Rebecca (Wyatt) Wyatt, wife of John Wyatt, was born December 14, 1799 and died August 26, 1866. They are buried at Franklin, Illinois. They were the parents of twelve children, several dying in infancy. One of the streets in Franklin was named for the Wyatt family and one of the additions also bears the family name.
It is to such public spirited men and women that we pay tribute in this our Illinois Sesquicentennial year.
"Not without thy wondrous story,
Can be writ the nation's glory,
Illinois, Illinois . . ."
The want of convenient mills was one of the most serious disadvantages with which the pioneer settlers had to contend. Of the early contrivances for manufacturing meal and most rude and primitive was what was known as the "Armstrong mill", used in the fall of the year, and which could be made by any family. This consisted of a plate of tin, pierced with numerous holes, so as to make one side very rough, bent in the shape of a half-circle, and nailed to a clap board about three feet long by six inches in width. By rubbing corn, just out of the milk, on the rough tin, meal was made, though in a very slow and laborious manner. The person operating this mill, by the time he had ground, or grated, enough meal for the dinner of a dozen persons, would be apt to conclude that "arm-strong" was a very appropriate appellation.
An improvement of this was the hand mill. This was made of two millstones, one above the other. A hole was made in the upper stone in which was placed a staff of wood, which ran through a hole in a plank above. One of two persons took hold of this staff, and turned the upper stone with as much velocity as possible. There was no hopper, but through an eye in the upper stone the mill was fed with corn in small quantities.
The next improvement was the band mill. In the band mill the horsepower consisted of a large, upright shaft, some ten or twelve feet in height, with eight or ten arms, let into the main shaft and extending out from it fifteen feet. Auger holes were bored at the end of the arms, in the upper side, into which wooden pins were driven. This was called the big wheel, and was about thirty feet in diameter. The rawhide belt or tug, was made of skins of beef cattle, cut into strips three inches in width; these were twisted into a round cord, long enough to encircle the circumference of the big wheel. There it was held in place by wooden pins. From the big wheel the belt crossed and passed under a shed to run around a drum, to which was attached the grinding apparatus. The oxen, or horses, were attached to the arms by means of rawhide tugs, and being driven around in a circle, the machinery was set in motion. To grind twelve bushels of corn in a band mill was considered a good day's work.
The people came to these mills from 30 to 80 miles away, and although the mill was kept running day and night, sometimes they would have to wait several days for a turn at the mill. Some of the early mills were built near Edwardsville and Alton and farmers from Morgan County drove that long distance to have corn and wheat ground.
One of the early breads was called "Jonny or Journey cake." It was said to be the best corn bread ever made. A board was made smooth, about two feet long, and eight inches wide. The ends were generally rounded. The dough was spread out on this board and placed leaning against the fire. One side was baked, and then the dough was changed on the board so the other side would be to the fire.
Water mills were the next improvement and one of the first built in Morgan County was on Apple Creek by Thomas Luttrell in 1820.
Thomas Luttrell left the knob country, south of the Green River, in Kentucky and drove his covered wagon to Illinois. He pitched his tent at Apple Creek and entered land. He erected a grist mill and the mill was a meeting place for the early settlers.
Mr. Luttrell, while living in Kentucky, served in the war of 1812 in the 7th Regiment of Kentucky Militia. His pension papers from Washington, D.C., show he was paid $6.66 per month and was paid $46.62 for seven months service.
Thomas Luttrell acted as judge in Apple Creek at the first election held in Morgan County. He also was security for the bond of the first tavern keeper in the county. He enlisted in the Winnebago War on July 23, 1827 as an Illinois Mounted Rifleman, and served under Captain Weller B. Green's Company.
Thomas Luttrell, born 1784, was married in Adair County, Kentucky in 1808 to Tabitha Rutherford. They were the parents of John R., Hiram, Nancy and Armstrong. Nancy Luttrell married Col. Richard Nelson, one of the first merchants in Waverly. Later the Nelson family moved to Kansas City, Mo. John R. Luttrell lived in the Franklin area and is buried at Franklin. Hiram was one of the early residents of Waverly and he and his wife, Sarah Marston, are buried in Waverly. Thomas Luttrell died in 1841 and is buried at "Old Pisgah" cemetery. His wife, Tabitha, married Frances Petree, another Morgan County pioneer. She died in 1872 and is buried at Union Cemetery, Pisgah, Illinois by her second husband.
The early settlers had but little money, and but little was needed, only enough to pay a little tax, sometimes a doctor's bill, and for the blacksmith work. This money was obtained from the sale of cattle and hogs. Store goods and groceries were generally paid for with butter, eggs, beeswax and peltries. The first pioneers lived on government land, unbought and unpatented. When the settling up of the country made it necessary to secure title to the land, every spare dollar went into the land office, and money became scarce on that account.
Salt was one of the dearest of the commodities which the pioneer settler absolutely needed. In early times it was obtained at St. Louis and was sold at nine dollars a barrel. In 1818 salt sold at Edwardsville for three dollars a bushel.
As we pause, in this sesquicentennial year, to reflect on the past, let us honor these Morgan County pioneers that endured much hardship to build a better "tomorrow" for us.
"By the rivers gently flowing,
O'er thy prairies, verdant growing
Illinois, Illinois . . ."
To these verdant prairies in the southwest part of Morgan County came many settlers. In recent years a noted person remarked "Never has so many owed so much to so few". The statement did not refer to the Morgan County pioneers but the truth of the statement does refer to our generation.
Every community is born into an inheritance and with each inheritance is an obligation. This obligation can be paid by each generation building a better community for posterity.
In this sesquicentennial year we pause to recall some of the pioneers of this area. Morgan County land records reveal when these men first purchased land. However, many lived here several years before land was for sale by the government. Among the early records are these "first" land owners:
Nov. 20, 1826 - Wm. Rogers, Jacob Rohrer, and Coleman Deatherage
Dec. 10, 1827 - Philip Deatherage
Jan. 22, 1828 - Austin Sims
Mar. 23, 1829 - Achilles Deatherage
May 20, 1829 - Wateman Jones
Dec. 22, 1829 - Alfred Deatherage
Feb. 16, 1830 - Christopher Ashbaugh
Aug. 17, 1830 - John Wyatt
June 8, 1831 - Thos. Luttrell
June 29, 1831 - Walter W. Rice
July 16, 1831 - Milton Shurtleff
Aug. 20, 1831 - John VanWinkle
Aug. 23, 1831 - James Caruthers
Sept. 2, 1831 - Wm. and George Deatherage
Oct. 31, 1831 - Isham Burnett
Jan. 9, 1835 - Stephen Deatherage
June 26, 1835 - Armstrong Luttrell
July 8, 1835 - Amos Miner
Oct. 8, 1835 - Mason F. Woods
Jan. 30, 1836 - Henry Beson
Each settler marked his claims by blazing the trees with an axe and by driving stakes in the ground. Each settler could claim 320 acres under the frontier rules tho most claimed only what they could pay for when the land went on sale.
There were other "firsts" in the county. The first log cabin was built by Isaac F. Roe. Mr. Roe was the first white settler to be buried in Morgan County. Dr. George Cadwell and Dr. Ero Chandler were the first physicians in the county. The first census was taken in 1824 - the records were lost in the courthouse fire.
The "Mechanic" was the first steam boat to ascend the Illinois River. It carried a cargo of salt. The first bridge in the county was built over Mauvaisterre Creek in 1821.
Rev. Newton Pickett rode the first Methodist Circuit. Rev. Samuel Bristow, Rev. Wm. Sims, Rev. Wm. Crow and Rev. Wm. Rogers were the first Baptist ministers and Rev. Austin Sims and Rev. Barton Stone were among the first Christian Church ministers. Rev. John Berey organized the first Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Wilford D. Wyatt was the first white male child born in the county and a daughter of J. Crain (Crane) and Julia A. Lindsley are the first white female children born in Morgan.
Thomas Arnett was the first Justice of the Peace in the County.
The first Cane seat chairs were made by Wilson Michener who lived southwest of Waverly.
The first mills were built by Thomas Luttrell, Roland Shepherd, John Wyatt and Amos Miner. Other known mills were the Deaton and Magill mills.
The first ferries over the Illinois River charged 75¢ for a four horse or ox team and carriage; 37½¢ for each one horse and carriage; 12½¢ for each mounted horse; and 6¼¢ for each man on foot.
The first child born at Waverly was Edward Allen Tanner on November 29, 1837. That night James Jefferson Woods was born.
The first death in Waverly area was Henry Hunt in 1827.
There are several Revolutionary soldiers buried in Morgan County and they certainly would be "firsts" in the military records. At Franklin: John Woods, Samuel Jackson and Bourland Boling Jolly; Rogers Cemetery, Waverly: Augustine Sims, Reuben Ross; Rohrer Cemetery, Waverly: Andrew Turner.
These men and women left Morgan County a rich inheritance. In this sesquicentennial year, let us honor them by building a better community for tomorrow.
Sarah Ross, daughter of Reuben Ross, was born in 1805. She was a sister of Ezekiel, John, Thomas, Robert and Emily Ross. Emily married a Mr. Norvell.
Sarah Ross, married Henry Beson (Beason). They were parents of: James K., died February 5, 1866 - Civil War Soldier; Reuben R., died August 29, 1869, aged 27 Y 9M 9D; Henry T., died October 1, 1871, aged 32Y 2M 18D - Civil War Soldier.
Sarah Ross Beson died March 2, 1887 aged 81 years 5 months and 13 days. Henry Beson, Sr., died June 3, 1872. They, and the above named sons, are buried at Rogers Cemetery, Waverly, Illinois.
In this Illinois Sesquicentennial year we pause - to reflect on the real meaning of Memorial Day.
Americans will pay tribute to the sacrifices of soldiers on Memorial Day. Observances will be edged in sorrow made all the more immediated by the newly turned earth at the graves of men who died in Viet Nam and Korea. The day should include time set aside to remember the strong men who sacrificed their young lives for our freedom.
The nation seems to be forgetting the true meaning of Memorial Day. Of late it seems to have become a day devoted to races and amusements with a tending to profane that which was intended to be sacred. Most people are even so busy with other interests that they do not attend Memorial Day services.
We, the living, are ever-lastingly indebted to those who have died in the protection of our country. They loved life just as much as we do. Now it remains for us to honor the dead by helping the living. We must make certain, we as citizens, do not lose by default what the heroic dead fought for so valiantly.
America has throughout her brief history sent young men to foreign shores to fight the forces of oppression and cruelty.
On Memorial Day, when you see the crosses, row on row, are you going to think of these fallen defenders as merely dead men - - or will you meditate on the debt you owe these defenders who gave their lives for you and their country?
Let not the wreath we lay and the requiem we chant be for the dead but the inspiration of life and for the living - - that these courageous men may not have died in vain. Keep the day sacred with a prayer of gratitude in your heart for those who purchased your holiday with their life blood.
Students are taught history in school but parents and teachers fail to teach them the history of their own community. It would be well to learn the story of the men in our immediate community that paid the supreme cost of their life – so that we might have freedom and life.
Until all men truly desire peace – and have love in their heart for their fellow men–we must be ready to defend the cause of freedom wherever it is challenged – even at the cost of our lives.
"They are not dead who lie on yonder hill,
For they are only gone from sight, but living still,
They've laid aside the earthly burdens of their day
And left them here for us to carry, as we may."
The early records of Morgan County reveal many interesting events that took place as well as some practices that ended many years ago. For eleven years, 1824, to 1835, paupers were sold. In 1835 a "poor house" was built to care for the paupers.
In 1834 there was a society of religious fanatics that believed in witchcraft and human sacrifices. People were burned at the stake to appease and propitiate their offended deity. Members cast lots to see who would be burned at the stake. Once the lot fell on an old woman. When she began to burn she screamed so loud and pitiful that a man passing by rescued her. The Morgan County grand jury indicted many members of the group and the religious fanatics left the country.
Public flogging was another early custom. It 1831 a trial was held for forgery and the sentence was "it is ordered by the court that the defendant be fined in the sum of fifty dollars, that he be imprisoned for the term of four months in the jail of the County of Morgan, that he receive on his bare back twenty-five lashes for the offense of forgery - - - it is ordered that the Sheriff inflict the punishment of stripes on the defendant on the first day of December, next, between the hours of ten o'clock and two o'clock, on the public square of Jacksonville." The whipping was carried out - - and it is recorded that the kind hearted Sheriff was moved to tears when he was ordered to administer the punishment.
In 1833 a choler epidemic was in Jacksonville. The first death was a woman. Following her death, all clothing, bedding and personal effects were burned. About half of the people in Jacksonville (259 persons) moved out. About fifty-five of the remaining died from the cholera.
In 1851 the epidemic hit Waverly, the second largest town in the county. Many died and were buried in the southwest corner of East Cemetery. Among those who died at Waverly was a Methodist minister, Rev. Wilson S. McMurray, his wife and three children.
The first article of export from Morgan County was cotton. It was grown in considerable quantities until the "Deep Snow". After the "Deep Snow" the seasons appeared to be shorter and the cotton was bitten by frost before it matured so cotton raising was abandoned. The cotton crop of 1821 was an abundant one and that year Abraham Johnson built a cotton gin about three miles northwest of Jacksonville. The price for ginning was a toll of one pound in every eight, after the cotton was ginned. Early settlers said this area was as good a cotton country as Georgia. When the cotton was ready for market the men built large canoes; and took the cotton down the Illinois River to St. Louis.
The weather has always been a timely topic. In the early days of Morgan County the weather caused much discomfort to the settlers. In 1820 there was almost a total crop failure due to the lack of rain. Heavy dew was the only thing that made it possible to raise a partial crop.
In 1821 there was a terrible wind storm and in 1825 a cyclone hit northwest of Jacksonville. The cotton gin, built by Mr. Johnson, was blown down at this time.
The "Deep Snow" of 1830-31 was one of the events that truly made history and many stories have been recorded about it. One of the interesting stories of the time was of a Mr. Stout. He had raised a family and the children were all married. His wife had died so he lived alone in a log cabin. He made wooden bowls, rolling pins, wooden spoons, etc. When the snow came his open cabin did not keep him war. He tried to borrow bedding from neighbors but they had none to spare. He solved the problem by felling a large tree near his cabin, took a cut from it of suitable length, and made a trough inside, the full length of his body, and hewed it off on the outside until it was light and thin enough for him to handle. He would make a bed on some chips or shavings as he had done before, first bringing his trough along side, and when snugly covered up, he would take the trough and turn it over himself for covering. As soon as the warmth of his body filled the space he would be comfortable, and could lay snug and warm until morning. There was neither floor nor chimney to his cabin, so he made a fire on the ground. When the weather was extremely cold he would scrape the coals and ashes away and make his bed where the fire had been.
There was a tradition among the Indians that about 1800 there had been a "Deep Freeze" and that accounted for the large quantities of buffalo bones on the highest points of land in Illinois. The Indians said the buffalo, herded together on the highest ground, because the snow was thinnest, remained there and perished with cold and hunger.
We pause, in this Sesquicentennial year, to recall a few of the brave men and women that helped make Illinois the great state it is.
Life in the early days was quite different. Then a man's word was as good as his bond. One of the interesting stories of the 1820's deals with a Mr. John Sims who settled in Sangamon County. The corn crop was frost bitten one year and he had to go to Madison County to obtain corn for seed and bread. He was charged one dollar per bushel, and wishing to haul all he could, he filled sacks and laid them across the corn in the wagon bed. He stalled in the mud, in Macoupin County, and left his wagon there, several miles from any house. He went home to get more teams but was delayed for two weeks by events at home. When he returned to the wagon he found some corn was gone, but closer examination revealed the fact that money was tied in the sacks from which the corn was taken. Some was tied with horse hair and some with strings, in small bunches, in all between eight and ten dollars, sufficient to pay for the corn that was taken. No doubt the corn was taken by passing pioneers.
When the land office was opened in 1823, in Springfield, the receiver was ordered to send corn to Louisville, Ky. The route was so difficult to travel and so long, that he was permitted, after one effort, to send it to St. Louis for safe keeping. Mr. Sims had a good team, and was called on to do the hauling. On more than one occasion he loaded his wagon with boxes of gold and silver, amounting to from thirty to fifty thousand dollars. He made the trip without any guard and was two and three nights on the road. He would feed his horses at night and tie them to the wagon. He slept on some straw thrown over the boxes of money and was never harmed on any of the trips.
Pioneer life had many hardships and dangers - among them, rattlesnakes. In 1821 Gen. James Adams was bitten by a rattlesnake and wishing to obtain some rattlesnake oil, advertised that he would pay 50¢ for the first one brought to him. He also added an extra 25¢ for each additional snake. A Mr. Barnes found a den of rattlesnakes near the mouth of Spring Creek, killed all he could, loaded them into a wagon and drove to Springfield. He left his wagon in an out of the way place. He first took one snake and received 50¢ then two, and received 25¢ each. He then took Gen. Adams to the wagon and showed him the whole load. Adams refused to pay for them. Barnes called his attention to the advertisement, but he still refused. Barnes then called on two men, Reuben Burden and John White, who counted the load, and there were 122 snakes. He then demanded his money $30.75. This brought the General to a compromise, and the matter was settled by paying $5.00 extra.
Panthers were one of the dangers of the early days. One of the early settlers heard a coon making a piteous note and went to investigate the trouble. A panther was trying to catch the coon. The settler shot the panther and two others in succession, and that gave the name to Panther Creek. A fourteen year old boy killed a panther in the Lick Creek timber. This animal measured eleven feet from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail.
Such was the lot of the early Illinois pioneers. It is fitting we honor them for the sacrifices they made to establish communities for us.
The "Deep Snow" of 1830 and 1831 is the most noted meteorological event in the early history of Illinois. It marked an epoch in pioneer history. Folk who lived here during the "Deep Snow" became known as "Snow Birds" and for years were honored as such at the "Old Settlers" meetings.
J. M. Sturtevant in his Autobiography says the snow occurred during the Christmas holidays of 1830 and covered the entire country to the depth of at least three feet. The storm ended in rain which froze as it fell and formed a coat of ice not quite strong enough to bear a man's weight.
The pioneers, penned up in their cabins, endured severe hardships and had great difficulty in securing fuel and provisions. Travel was difficult due to the biting, incessant winds and the below zero temperature.
William Sewall, a Jacksonville school teacher in 1830, kept a diary and recorded the following.
Dec. 24 - Snowed considerably. Dec. 29 - Snowed most of the day. There is about two feet of snow.
Dec. 31 - Cold and disagreeable. Difficulty in passing about.
Jan. 7, 1831 - There is now about 2½ to 3 feet of snow on the level.
Jan. 8 - Wood scarce and high in town.
Jan. 22 - This is the coldest day yet experienced. 18 degrees below zero. Feb. 12 - Cloudy and cold.
Mar. 18 - Snowed all day.
Apr. 16 - Snow storm. High wind."
In another sudden storm, Dec. 20, 1836, James Hildreth and a Mr. Frame left Vermillion county for Chicago. A sudden rain storm came up and about the middle of the afternoon the rain ceased and a cold wave came in great fury. Their horses became unmanageable and soon darkness closed in. They could find no shelter so decided that each man would kill the other's horse. Hildreth killed Frame's horse and they took out the entrails and crawled inside the carcass. The animal heat from the carcass kept them warm for a while. Frame would have killed Hildreth's horse but they had dropped their knife and could not find it in the dark. They huddled close to the living horse until early morning. Frame died from exposure. Hildreth managed to keep alive by jumping up and down. As soon as he could see to ride he mounted his horse and rode until he found a cabin.
The cabin was across the bank of a stream and Hildreth called to the man in the cabin for help. The man refused. Hildreth offered a large sum of money if the man would cut a tree and let Hildreth cross on it. The man still refused. The man told Hildreth of a cabin five miles away. Hildreth rode to it but it was deserted so returned to the cabin and asked for help. Again he was refused. Hildreth dismounted and checked the ice on the stream and found it strong enough for him to crawl on. He managed to reach shore and to the fence. He asked the man to help him over the fence and was again refused help. Hildreth managed to tumble over the fence and crawled to the house and laid down by the fire. He begged for assistance. The man was about to relent but his wife restrained him. The frozen Hildreth lay there until late afternoon. Some hog drovers came by and they moved him to another house where he was cared for.
After learning of the inhumanity of the cabin owner, a Mr. Benjamin Russ, a movement was made to punish him, but he fled. Mr. Hildreth said he thought that when he offered to pay liberally for cutting the tree for him to cross the stream on, led the man to think he had a large sum of money on him. He thought the man had the idea he could obtain the money if he let Mr. Hildreth perish. This was a rare case among the pioneers as most of them were ready to divide with anyone in need.
Mr. Hildreth lost a great amount of money by failing to get to Chicago for a business deal. He was taken back to a brother's home. All his toes had to be removed and all the bones of all his fingers, except one joint of the thumb on his right hand, which enabled him to hold a pen or a drover's whip. Twenty-two years later a leg was amputated and in June of 1858 his diseased lungs caused his death.
Despite his great calamity, Mr. Hildreth, lived a useful life and was a farmer and stock dealer.
It is fitting in this Illinois Sesquicentennial year to pay tribute to Mr. Hildreth and Mr. Sewall - true pioneers of Illinois.
Illinois, the "Prairie State" lies in the valley of the Mississippi River and the basin of the Great Lakes. The early book "Emigrants Guide" told of the disadvantages of too much prairie land in Illinois. Fear of prairie fires and of becoming lost in the vast prairie grasses kept the Illinois emigrants near the edge of the timberland.
The early French explorers referred to the territory east of Jacksonville as "mauvais terres". This was the area where hills and dales merged into the "Grand Prairie."
Emigrants followed the worn trail of the buffalo and the Indian. About 1820 Thomas and Tabitha (Rutherford) Luttrell and their four children came from Kentucky and settled on Apple Creek. Soon a trail from Jacksonville led south to Apple Creek and converged with the Vandalia Trail, a road from Vandalia to Naples. The point where the trails crossed was just west of the present village of Franklin. This point was known as "Clayton's Point" or "Pint". William C. Clayton, A Kentuckian, had entered land at the "Point" in 1820.
On March 2, 1832, three men, William Woods, John Wyatt and Walter Butler, decided to found a town about fifteen miles southeast of Jacksonville. The road ran diagonally at this place and thirty lots were laid out - fifteen on each side of the road. This was on land that had been entered in 1826 by John W. Burch and Caswell Russell.
The men decided to call the settlement Simpson in honor of the county where they had lived in Kentucky. This name appears on the original plat that was surveyed by Johnston Shelton. However, the name was changed to Franklin before the plat was recorded on April 7, 1832 as another place had been named Simpson. Franklin was the county seat of Simpson County, Kentucky.
William Woods was the son of John Woods, a Revolutionary soldier. John Woods was born in 1752 at Savannah, Georgia. He moved to Kentucky with his family before 1800. John Woods and his sons, William, Robert and Michael and daughter Betty came to Morgan County, Illinois at an early date. Betty Woods married William C. Clayton and Robert Woods married Sarah Clayton. John Woods died Oct. 21, 1831 and is buried in the southwest part of the Franklin cemetery. He had served as a Paymaster of the First Battalion of the continental Troops of Georgia in the Revolution and had the rank of Captain.
John Wyatt was born in Culpepper County, Va., on Feb. 3, 1795. He lived in Kentucky for a time and was married Aug. 19, 1817 in Madison County, Ill., to Rebecca Wyatt, daughter of William and Rebecca (Wyatt) Wyatt. John Wyatt served as a Morgan County Commissioner and was in the legislature form 1832 to 1838. He died Jan. 6, 1849 and is buried at Franklin, Illinois.
Little is known of Walter Butler except that he was one of the "founding fathers" of Franklin. Log cabins were erected and the first settlers took their corn to Apple Creek to be ground on the grist mill erected by Thomas Luttrell.
Among the early merchants were Manning Mayfield, Harry Reinbach, Edward S. Hinrichsen, Abraham C. Woods, S. P. McCollough, John M. Coons, Wykoff & Poling, Joel Lankton, Mansfield Bros., Col. J. P. Wright, Hiram VanWinkle, J. C. Crabtree, W. W. Hays and James Langley. In later years George Schaff opened a store in the village that still bears the Schaff name
The religious training of the family was uppermost in the minds of the early settlers so meetings were held in the homes until churches could be erected.
The Apple Creek Circuit in the Illinois District of the Methodist Church was formed in 1827. The nucleus of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Franklin was the families of William Woods, John Sappington, John W. Burch, Newton Cloud and John Cook Caldwell. In 1828 more Methodist families settled in the Franklin area: John Wyatt, Sterling Woods, Wm. C. Clayton, Philip Boulware, John Leak, Shelby Burch, John VanWinkle, Napoleon B. VanWinkle, Ransom VanWinkle, Thomas Antrobus, John Crabtree, Samuel Keplinger, Wm. Roberts, John Waller, James Scott, John Dodsworth, James Gibson, Seebyrd England, R. A. Kennedy, John B. Mansfield, Henry Saunderson, Robert Scarth and Joseph White.
A log church 18 x 24 was erected in what is now the Franklin cemetery and was used until 1840. It was torn down and it is believed that the logs were used to build the first school. A brick church was erected in 1840 in front of the log church. The brick were made by Roland (or Rollin) Hamm and John Heppington. Roland Hamm was the stepson of William Woods, one of the founders of Franklin. This building was destroyed in a storm on May 7, 1860. A frame church, 36x54 was erected on the public square in 1861. It was sold and later used as Marquette Hall. A brick church was built and dedicated in 1913. Fire destroyed this church on Feb. 27, 1959. A new church was built and dedicated on Feb. 3, 1963.
The Christian Church was built on a lot on Main Street that was owned by John and Rebecca (Wyatt) Wyatt. The deed is dated April 25, 1843. This was a one room church and was heated by sheet iron stoves. The pulpit was a built-in affair with two or three steps leading up to it. The seats were long wooden, straight backed benches. At the back of the pulpit was a wooden bench upon which the minister sat. The front of the bench was hinged on and could be let down. The communion ware was kept in it when it was not in use.
The church, in later years became inadequate so plans were made at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Wesley Luttrell to build a new church. The next day, Mrs. Luttrell, the former Nancy Burnett, drove many mils by horse and buggy, to obtain pledges from interested friends to help build a new church. The new church was dedicated in March of 1867. Many of the early converts were baptized in the creek on the farm of Mrs. William Massie. Rev. Connor was minister at the time the second church was dedicated. The Massie family had been "followers" of Barton Stone in Kentucky. Barton Stone was the founder of the Christian Church in Jacksonville. The Massies came to Franklin in 1836 from Frankfort, Kentucky.
The Catholics built Sacred Heart Church in 1886. This 40x100 building was destroyed by fire on May 4, 1893. Father Patrick Joseph O'Reilly started the first church. The cornerstone for the church was laid on June 18, 1886. The second church and rectory was started on August 15, 1893. The Most Reverend James Ryan, Bishop of the Alton Diocese, presided at the dedication on August 26, 1894. During the leadership of Father Michael Kearns, the church was redecorated and a new hall was built in 1958.
Among the early members of this church we find the names of Bergschneider, Lynch, Lukeman, Ryan, Eck, Harmon, Tracy, Feore, Kenny, Ludwig, Murphy, Gorman, Shanle, Kumle, Walsh, Johnson, Lyons, Wagner, Crowley, Doyle, Whalen, McDonald and Gavin.
The Catholic Cemetery is northeast of Franklin and just south of the farm, long known as the "Link" Hills farm.
The Baptist Church had its beginning on June 30, 1887 when a council met at the Christian Church to consider the organization of a Baptist Church at Franklin. A building was erected later on the southwest corner of the square. This church was destroyed by fire on Nov. 26, 1937. The Clayton Point school house was purchased and moved to the old church site. Among the early members were the families of William Hart, Jacob Boyer, George Bonds, Chamberlain Belk, George Hart, the Mayfields, Hockings and Jollys.
In 1837 John Wyatt platted an addition as the settlement was growing. In 1871 an addition was platted by John Wyatt's son, William J. Wyatt. Later additions were laid out by George Hart, Clarence Reinbach, James Eador, W. H. Scott, A. H. Wright, I. T. Mansfield, George Henry Wyatt and Jones & Buffe.
The education of the children was the next consideration of the pioneers after the religious training. A log school house was erected just north of the cemetery. Another school once stood where Schaaf's Store now stands and was taught by Newton Cloud. A brick school was erected in 1884 on Reinbach Street and was twice remodeled before it was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1930-31. New brick grade and high schools were built in the north part of the town.
Newton Cloud, one of the first school teachers in Morgan County, was born in Nov, 1804 in Stokes County, North Carolina. He moved to Kentucky and was married in Warren County in 1824, to Elizabeth C. Wood. They came to Morgan County, Illinois in 1827 and settled on "Cloud's Lane" east of Franklin. He served as Speaker of the House. He was a well known Methodist minister and the Morgan County records show that he presided at most of the early marriages in the county. He died at his home on July 22, 1877 and was buried at a cemetery southeast of his home known as Rogers Cemetery.
Another early teacher in the Franklin schools was Rev. C. G. Snow. He was born in Oswego, N.Y., December 30, 1817. He taught school a few years in Ohio and then went to Scottville, Ill., in 1841. He was licensed to preach by Rev. Peter Cartwright in 1854. He taught school for fifty-seven years and was still a very active man at the age of eighty-seven. Some of the early schools were Clayton's Point, Little Hope, College Corner, Long Point, Little York, Criswell, Providence and Durbin.
Franklin men played a large role in the military history of the county, state and nation. At Franklin cemetery we find the following veterans:
Revolutionary War - Bourland Boling Jolly, Samuel Jackson, John Woods and James Wright.
War of 1812 - Philip Boulware, Benjamin Burch, William Woods, Abner Wright, James Wright, Jr., and Reuben Wright.
Black Hawk War - Walter Burch, W. H. Clayton, Wm. C. Clayton, Samuel Givens, Joseph Reynolds, Archie T. Rigg, John Sappington, Hiram VanWinkle, Thomas Wright and John Wyatt.
Civil War - There are 72 known Civil War veterans buried at Franklin
Mexican War - John B. Duncan, Isaac Hill, Alexander M. Wright, George W. Wyatt and Wm. J. Wyatt.
Spanish American War - Elias M. Landes and Sancho P. Wright.
Many veterans of World War I and II, the Korean War and the conflict in Viet Nam are and will be buried at Franklin.
The mail was first brought to Franklin by stage coach. One of the earliest known postmasters was Jacob Dickinson, the village tailor. His little shop was near the house that served as the telephone office for many years. Other postmasters were John M. Coons, John H. VanWinkle, George Henry Wyatt, Ripley Mayfield, Newton Z. Reinbach and William Whalen.
TO BE CONTINUED
William Duncan published a newspaper in Franklin prior to 1886. The first issue of the "Franklin Transcript" was published July 3, 1886 by George E. Goodhead. Newton Z. Reinbach, Bruck Reinbach and C. H. Tietgen were the next sole owners of the "Franklin Times". Warren Luttrell bought the "Franklin Times" Jan. 1, 1911 and continued as editor until his death on Aug. 10, 1942. His daughter and son-in-law, Herman and Eleanor L. Ramsey, now publish the paper.
At one time Franklin had 100 miners working in the coal mine and the village boasted of 800 residents.
The first bank was established March 20, 1886 by Hardin G. Keplinger and Wm. H. Wright.
Along the Franklin streets could be found a confectionary and restaurant, two flour mills, a wool carding mill, a saw mill, barber shop, postoffice, six general stores, a furniture store that also dealt in stoves and tinware, a shoe and boot shop, a lumber yard, meat market, brick yard and two livery stables.
Among the early doctors that practiced at Franklin were James Hill, W. N. Tandy, D. G. Smith, W. C. Manley, M. Elder, J. B. Perkins, C. I. Glenn and M. D. Henderson.
Col. "Jack" Wright and his wife "Aunt Kate" were also inn keepers.
The railroad came to Franklin in 1871 and was a great help to the town in moving the coal, rick, tile, flour and material from the mill.
The past is part of the present, and the present shapes the future. Our communities are what they are today because of what they were yesterday; they will become what they will be tomorrow because of what they are today.
Communities do not happen. They are the result of work of people. So the pages of history are turned back to reveal a few of the families that settled in the Franklin community in 1820 and 1830's.
Thomas and Tabitha (Rutherford) Luttrell and their four children, John, Hiram, Nancy and Armstrong, settled on Apple Creek in 1820. They came from Kentucky and settled south of Franklin and their log cabin was the gathering place for the early pioneers. Thomas built a grist mill and much of the early meal was ground at the mill. He served in the War of 1812 before coming to Illinois. He also served in the Black Hawk War. Mr. Luttrell died in 1841 and his widow later married Frances Petree, another Morgan County pioneer.
The Hart family came to Franklin about 1826. They had been neighbors of the Luttrell family in North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. Solomon Hart was born in 1793 in Mercer County, Kentucky and was married in 1817 to Nancy Waggner. Four of Solomon's brothers came to Morgan County - Nathan, Charles David and Anderson. They settled between "Big" and "Little Apple Creeks" and the are is still called "Hart's Prairie" or "Hartland".
Solomon Hart raised eight sons and two daughters. Many of the Harts are buried at the Bull Cemetery at Hartland.
The descendants of John Granderson Seymour constitutes one of the largest families in Morgan County. He was born in 1772 and died in 1858. He was married in 1794 to Agnes Allen Pulliam and they were parents of 13 children. They are buried at Providence Cemetery southwest of Franklin.
The Seymours were from Person County, North Carolina. Some of the family came by horseback to the Franklin area about 1829. The Austin family came about this time and the two families intermarried. Many of the two families are buried in the country cemeteries - Providence, Bull, Hartland and Seymour-Austin.
Shelby M. Burch was an early settler at Franklin. He was born in 1815 in Kentucky and was married in Morgan County in 1839 to Sarah Wyatt. Mr. Burch died in 1846, leaving two children, Mary Ann and John Ben.
The Burnett family came to Morgan County about 1830 from Wayne County, Kentucky. Roland Burnett and his wife Mary Hurt, were parents of 9 children. Mr. Burnett wanted to keep his slaves so moved to Macon County, Missouri, a slave state. He died in 1858 and his wife in 1851 and they are buried on the farm they purchased near Callao Mo.
Isham, James and Richard Byar Burnett, three of Roland Burnett's sons, settled near Franklin. Isham Burnett married Lucinda VanWinkle and they were the parents of 11 children. James Burnett married Thurza VanWinkle and were parents of 9 children. He died in 1847 and she died in 1845. Their children were raised by other members of the Burnett family. Richard Byar Burnett married Mary Bramer and they were parents of 9 children. The three brothers and many of their families are buried at Franklin.
William and Nancy (Lewis) Massie came to Franklin in 1836 from Frankfort, Kentucky. They purchased the first farm north of Franklin, now owned by Leo Bergschneider. The trip from Kentucky, via Indiana, was made in a covered wagon and by horseback. Their slaves were freed before they left Kentucky but one faithful slave insisted on walking along as she could not bear to be separated from Mrs. Massie. Mrs. Massie finally persuaded the woman to return to her family in Kentucky. The Massies brought their eight children with them and a ninth child was born at Franklin. William Massie died in 1839 and Mrs. Massie in 1870. They are buried at Franklin with six of their children.
Many of the early converts of the Franklin Christian Church were baptized in the creek on the Massie farm.
James Wright, a Virginian, came to Franklin in the early days. He had married Sarah Head in 1830 in Kentucky. They were parents of 11 children. They came by horseback, a distance of 350 miles, from Kentucky. Mr. Wright was the son of a Revolutionary soldier.
Isaac Hill was born at Hamilton County, Illinois in 1827 and came to Franklin at an early date. He was the father of 13 children. He enlisted in the Mexican War under Capt. Wm. A. J. Wyatt. He received 160 acres of land for this war service. Mr. Hill married a daughter of John and Mary (Spicer) Dougherty.
Reuben Jones moved to the Franklin area about 1823. The first school he attended was taught by John Johnson and was in the vicinity known as "Muddy". Mr. Jones was married in 1843 to Nancy Armstrong and they were parents of 11 children. After her death he married Mrs. Martha Dennis and they were parents of 4 children.
Abraham and Charity (Sallee) VanWinkle settled at Franklin at an early date. They were parents of 10 children. He was a native of Maryland but had also lived in Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. His ancestors came from Winkle, Holland.
John and Elizabeth (Ruble) Keplinger came from Tennessee in 1828 in a covered wagon to Morgan County. After the death of Elizabeth he married again. He was the father of 12 children. Samuel Keplinger, a son, married Permelia Green in 1833. He was a blacksmith by trade. He died in 1886. Eight of his children lived to adult age. His son, Hardin Green Keplinger, was the father of the late Maurice Bell Keplinger, banker at Franklin.
These are but a few of the families that helped build the Franklin community. However, many more families played an important role in the early settlement of the village and surrounding county but space does not permit more.
Franklin, tho only a village, has played an important role in the history of the county, state, and nation. Many of the settlers were large stock raisers and farmers. A number of the citizens became lawyers, bankers, teachers, doctors and state officials. No community has a finer military record. Its men served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Civil War, World Wars I & II and the Korean and Viet Nam Conflicts.
This year, thru the efforts of the Franklin Legion Auxiliary and interested citizens, a beautiful monument is to be placed in the village park as a memorial to hits honored soldiers.
TO BE CONTINUED
About 1836 a village plat was surveyed, about one mile west of Waverly, under the name of Appalonia. One hundred and four lots were laid out. There was a public square, a postoffice, blacksmith shop, a store and at least ten cabins.
The street on the North of the square was Madison, to the East, Jackson, to the South, Washington, to the West, Jefferson. The streets around the square were sixty feed wide. Two other street in the village were VanBuren and Johnson and they were forty feet wide. The village took its name from Apple Creek.
Mason Franklin Woods was the storekeeper and William Deatherage was the postmaster. Mr. Woods settled first at the north edge of Waverly, then moved to Appalonia to open a store. He later returned to the farm north of Waverly. The postoffice was at Appalonia until 1847 when the stage route was changed.
Appalonia did not develop into a village as it was too near Waverly. The ballot box was stolen in the night by some Jacksonville people and the ballots changed in favor of Jacksonville. The aspirations of the Appalonia settlers were to be the church center of a new town that would spring up. In part, the hope was fulfilled, as it became the mother church of the First Methodist Church in Waverly.
The people that settled at or near Appalonia had a deep concern about religious training and meetings were held in the homes and school until a church was built. Rev. William Rogers, a Baptist minister, preached the first sermon in Twp. 13, R. 8, at the home of Rev. Isaac Conlee. Rev. Austin Sims, who took a land grant in 1827, was a minister of the Christian Church. He was the "first speaker" at the Waverly Christian Church. Rev. Newton Cloud, a Methodist minister, preached his first sermon at the home of John Wyatt, one of the three founders of Franklin.
The Apple Creek Circuit of Methodist church was organized September 20, 1827. Authentic records establish the fact that the early churches of this circuit were organized under the trees or in the home of a pioneer. School houses were built and sued as a place of worship as well as a place to educate the children. Churches were erected later.
Appalonia is the oldest M. E. Society in this section. It is the only one of the three churches in the Waverly Circuit that remained without change or location.
Appalonia Church was built and dedicated in 1851. Money was scarce but material was available so the men gave of their time and material. Some of the builders were William, George, Coleman and Achilles Deatherage; Newton Cloud, William t. Givens and Elijah Ray, Contractor.
Newton Cloud was licensed to preach in 1828 and entered into the traveling ministry in 1853/ he went out from the Appalonia Church to preach and serve. He was known for several decades not only as one of the great preachers of the state but also as one of its great statesmen, friend of both Lincoln an Douglas, so much so that he received the vote of both for Speaker of the House when those great leaders were political opponents.
Rev. Newton Cloud is buried at Rogers Cemetery (southeast of where the Appalonia church once stood) with his wife and some of his children. Rev. Austin Sims and Rev. William Rogers are also buried in this early cemetery.
Among the preachers that served at Appalonia, before it was placed on the "Waverly Circuit" were Hardin Wallace, W. S. McMurray, W. B. Barton, C. P. Baldwin, Newton Cloud, E. Carrington, J. C. Finley and W. H. Davis.
From 1852 to 1870 Appalonia was on the "Franklin Circuit" and then it became a part of the Waverly Circuit.
The Appalonia Church was once struck by lightning and on April 19, 1927 it was damaged slightly by a tornado.
On October 22, 1933 the farewell sermon was preached at Appalonia by Rev. Thomas P. Krumpe. His scripture references were Exodus XIV-15 and Acts V-15. His sermon was based on "Tell the People to Go Forward." The meeting closed with the hymn "Blest Be the Tie That Binds." The great influence of this church, that served the community for nearly one hundred years, lives on in the lives of this generation and no doubt in those that follow.
John Criswell was the oldest person present at the last service of the church and Miss Elizabeth Givens was the oldest one in membership of the church.
The church building was sold to Clayton Anderson and he later sold it to a religious group at Auburn. The school building has also been town down. The log cabins are gone and only the village square remains - a grassy plot west of John Bostic's house.
Epidemics of fever and cholera plagues those early pioneers as well as "quick consumption" and what ever claimed the lives of small children that were about two years of age. However, their faith in God and for the future of this Appalonia community gave them the courage to go forward. On e has only to check the names and dates on the stones at Rogers Cemetery to learn the heartaches the pioneers endured. Often entire families died from an epidemic. Burials were made so quickly that often the grave was marked with a stone from the nearby creek - and now the identity of the grave is gone. Yet many of the stones have "Gone But Not Forgotten" on them. The people of that generation did not forget but the following generations soon forgot and the cemetery was allowed to grow up in underbrush and the stones were turned over and broken.
Fifteen of the men that took land from the government at an early date in the Appalonia area are buried at Rogers: Wm. Rogers, Wm., Coleman and Achilles Deatherage; Jacob Rohrer; Austin Sims; John C. Caldwell; David Watkins; Newton Cloud; Walter Rice; Wm. Bowyer; Joseph Rogers; Alfred York; Henry Beson and John Still.
Appalonia, tho no longer in a physical existence, lives on in the hearts and minds of many of the present generation. The religious and educational training by the early settlers have left an indelible impression and influence on the people of central Illinois. Again we are reminded that "never have so many owed so much to so few."