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Cantrall, Illinois

The First Church of Sangamon County, Illinois

Organized May 15 1820
Stephen England

"Some Reminiscences"
(of Sangamon County)
by Mrs. Fannie Graham

Pages 179 - 180

Page 179

An article in a newspaper (not dated) follows:

Cantrall Woman’s Club

The club met for an all day meeting, January 25, at the home of Mrs. J. H. Canterbury. A buffet luncheon was surved after which the meeting was called to order. Only thirteen members reported on account of the severe cold wave. Roll Call-Name some one who entered land and mention some incidents of their life.

Mrs. J. H. Canterbury had charge of the meeting. The subject was “Sangamon County, meaning in the Potawatami language, a country where there is plenty to eat.” The original county was formed by an act of the Legislature, January 30, 1821, and comprised the present countries of Bond, Madison, Sangamon, Menard, Cass, Mason, Tazewell, Logan, Morgan and parts of Christian and Putman.

Mrs. Brittin read a very interesting paper of the first wedding * north of the Sangamon river. This article was read by Judge Charles P. Kane, January 25, 1906, before the Illinois State Historical Society. The contracting parties were Philo Beers and Martha Stillman. The marriage license was obtained at Edwardsville and the wedding occurred, November 2, 1820, Stephen England performing the ceremony.

Mrs. Carrie Van Meter read a very interesting paper prepared by her mother, Mrs. Fannie Graham.

At the close of the program an interesting contest was held. The next meeting will be held at the home of Mrs. Thomas Mathers, February 13. Each member will take part in the program by telling a funny story after which the usual Valentine exchange will take place.
The guests of the club were: Joe Melvan Van Meter, A. D. Van Meter, Evans Brittin, and Harold Canterbury.


Note-The following paper was prepared by Mrs. Fannie Graham and was read before the Cantrall Woman’s Club.

I was born, October 9, 1838 on the present site of the Grubb farm at Cantrall. Religion and education were the foundation for all progressiveness. The pioneers through hardship and industry achieved these.
My earliest remembrance of school, not being old enough to attend, was being carried down to the school room, which was a rugged room, a part of father’s tanyard.
The first school house was built of logs, (plain benches for seats, greased paper over the windows for lights,) a short distance north of Mrs. Clara Dolvin’s home. The land then belonged to my father, he having settled a large tract in the vicinity. The teachers were procured by applying for a school through subscription scholars, about one dollar per scholar for a term of a few weeks.

From that school laws began to improve, but school houses were far apart. A circulating library was formed by residents of the community, which afforded good reading, a movement much appreciated and one of my most pleasant memories.

*See article on “The England Family” an unpublished manuscript, stating Stephen England married John Cline and Mrs. Lucy Scott in summer of 1820 on South side of River. (Sangamon).

Page 180

Likewise churches were few. Neighborhood services were held in homes and in winter and in warm weather in barns by traveling ministers. Occasionally upon a death the body would be buried without services and a memorial would be held when a minister was available. Usually a fifth Sunday in a month being an extra day, a pastor from some town could be procured.

There were no modern conveniences; no cisterns, stoves, etc. such as we term necessities; housewives doing their spinning, weaving, soap making, and sewing by hand. Their recreation, then called a frolic, was a quilting for the ladies and a wood chopping for the men; and a big dinner, apple cuttings, and husking bees for the young folks.

All fences were rail and were cut from their own timber. By this time some few had carriages drawn by horses, but oxen were used in the field and for drawing heavy loads. Oxen were broken at the age of two years and when older and fat, were sold at better prices than unbroken calves. I remember of having driven well-broken ones around the barn lot.

A unique remembrance of mine is a marketing expedition of my brother, Charles Cantrall and Capt. Howard Vandagrift. They bought 250 turkeys at fifty cents each and drove them to St. Louis. At night the turkeys would go to roost wherever darkness overtook them and the owners would be compelled to camp. The trip required several days, the turkeys became thin from travel and had to be rested and fattened before completing the trip. The boys reported a good market, about seventy-five cents each. Chickens were selling at $1.50 dozen and a good milk cow for about $8.00.

A zig zag road led to Springfield making the distance much farther, and a great desire to have a direct road with bridges across the streams led to a movement for a commission. Levi Cantrall, Mr. Fisk (Mrs. Libbie Canterbury’s father) then living near Havana, and several others were appointed to help survey a road to Springfield.

My earliest remembrance of coal was a small amount of surface coal found in a bank about two miles south of Cantrall by my brother, Levi Cantrall. This was the first coal found around here.

Father having purchased a tract of prairie land at $1.25 per acre moved the house from the farm at Cantrall to the prairie farm for a tenant house. When I was married, January 6, 1857, to Mr. Graham, father and mother gave me a deed to the farm which I still hold.

Our best and most comfortable means of travel was on horse back. I have the side saddle which was given me at home. It was every girl’s pride to own her own riding horse, side-saddle and bridle. We prized them as highly as a girl of today prizes her automobile.

Volumes could be written of the changes in the years of my life, but the above will enlighten you of a few of the many, many changes. May we say of the “good old days?” They were good because of old friends and loved ones; ambitions and happy looking into the future with great anticipations, but the present day far surpasses in many ways-modes of travel, automobiles, airplanes etc. inventions, making labor easy, education and every chance of large opportunities and may they continue to improve as time goes on and on.

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