N. M. Knapp
Response To A Toast
Delivered at Winchester, Illinois, July 4th, 1876
Times Job Printing House
Price 25 cents
Historical Sketch of Scott County
By N. M. Knapp
By appointment of your Committee, in pursuance of the recommendation of the President, and the Governor of your State, I have prepared and submit what I shall read.
Scott county was cut off from Morgan county, by act of Assembly, approved February 16, 1839, and was organized a new county. The first election of county officers was holden, by special provision of the act creating the county, on the third Monday of March that year; the organization was effected on the 23d day of that month.
No event since that day has excited, within the borders of Scott county more intense feeling, or set in motion more ingenious, energetic or questionable industry, than attended its creation.
Three projects for a new county sprang up at once. One with the North Prairie, one with Winchester, and one with Manchester, as the county seat.
Each point therefore, had to carve out an area of which [page 2] it would be the centre, for really it was county seats more than counties the movers wanted-consequently the area of the several proposed counties largely overlapped each other; each started out with petition for its own project, and remonstrance against the others, and the inhabitants who were unfortunate enough to live upon the area that fell within all three of the proposed new counties, underwent such an ordeal of solicitation, drumming, and urgent appeal as few have passed through and kept their mental balance.
Winchester was however finally settled upon as the most eligible centre, and the question narrowed to a numerical contest between the petitioners for, and the remonstrators against the county of Scott. The whole country was scoured by the bearers of the petition, men, women, children, passing travellers, negroes, Indians and all animals that had a name were placed upon the petition or remonstrance, or both, and they kept about even, till luckily the petitioners happened to think of the Blue-Book at the Post-office, and having transferred to the petition the names of many of the Post Masters in the United States, they out-numbered the remonstrators and secured the county. Whether this would have so resulted or not is uncertain, but for a little sharp practice played by the petitioners upon the leader of the remonstrators-a resident of the North Prairie. The friends of each party in the Legislature, then sitting at Vandalia, had kept it advised of the numbers of the signers sent forward by their opponents. After the petitioners had procured nearly every name they could get, they received a message, informing them that the remonstrators out-numbered them-they must forward more names, or fail. Whereupon a citizen of Winchester, of such form and mould as could be made up into any shaped man they chose, was selected by the petitioners, stuffed, padded, rounded out and habiliated as an equestrian traveller, on a long journey with saddle bags under him, his face disguised by false whiskers, and a bandana handkerchief over his ears-him they started out in the night time as a gentleman, on his way from Vandalia to Mt. Sterling in Brown county, bearing a letter from a member of the Legislature, the leading friend of the remonstrators in that body, to their leader here, advising him to send no more remonstances, that the bill for the new county was killed past resuscitation. This traveller roused his victim at a late hour of night, who appeared at his gate, thinly clad for the season, and received the letter endorsed, "By the politeness of J. G. Chesley, Esq., of Brown county," which he hastened into his house to read-while the bearer, having, for urgent reasons, declined a polite invitation to stay over night, rode on towards Brown county! The petitioners mean time, were busily engaged in an old house in the out-skirts of Winchester, copying the names in the Blue Book on to their petition.
The effect of the ruse was understood the next day, as the recipient of the letter came into town with an exultant air, and stood around the streets with a very wise look, and resisted the most persistent questioning by the petitioners, after news from the State Capital-only condescending to throw out aggravating hints that they were gone up. In this happy condition he remained till aroused to a realizing sense that he had been victimized by the roar of cannon, at Winchester announcing that the bill had become a law.
I might perhaps give more interest to the incident by mentioning names, but as one participant at least, is still a citizen of Winchester, I forbear.
The moral is, that there was not much more honesty in public enterprises then than there is now!
In size Scott is among the small counties of the State. The area is equal to six townships and thirty-one sections; or 158,080 acres-adding for over-plus of fractional townships and sections say, total 160,000 acres.
The fractional character of the sub-divisions, results from the zigzag boundaries on the east and north, which were deviated from direct lines by the members of the General Assembly from the old county, to save to Morgan county, the towns of Lynnville and Bethel and the rich lands around them, and by the meanders of the Illinois river on the west. Such is my understanding of the reason; though we once had in our town a meditative old citizen, by the name of Alex. Whitley, who entertained a different opinion. The old county of Morgan had previous to the division been Democratic, but after the division both of the counties, formed of the old one, were carried by the Whigs. In accounting for the same, Whitley after much reflection, announced the sage conclusion that the rascally Whigs in the Legislature, had run the lines so crooked just to make two Whig counties out of one Democratic county! Many of his comrades accepted his conclusion, who were not exactly able to comprehend the problem.
For facial superfices and quality of soil, Scott county is one of the most desirable for residence in the State.
It is well divided between prairie and timber, amply supplied with excellent spring water, and so diversified in quality of soils, that all cereals, and every kind of vegetable is produced in sufficient quantity for man or beast-no matter what the season. The writer has lived within its limits 39 years, and never saw a season in which there was not an abundance raised in the county for home consumption, and something to sell. In fact, having observed in every section of the United States, never saw a place, where a man had such security to live while he does live; nor where the veriest loafer could come so near living as well as any body else. Nobody ever died of hunger in Scott, or missed a meal, unless he was sick, drunk, or too lazy to cook and eat.
The soil and climate is adapted to the production of all sorts of grain, edibles and fruits, and I insist that there is not a better equal area of ground on the globe, than the State of Illinois, and Scott county is in the best part of it.
Population-Character of Settlers
The population of the county when organized was about 6,230, and was principally made up of immigrants from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, England, Ireland, Germany, and a scattering few from other States of the Union-very few from New England, and they might about as well have been in purgatory! For if there was any one article in the creed of the early settlers that they held more tenaciously than any other, it was the one which made it a religious duty to curse Yankees. This duty they always faithfully performed after they found out they were Yankees; but when ignorant of the fact they generally employed them to teach school, preach, or elected them to office.
The increase of population has been slow-only about 4,300 in 39 years. For this there are several reasons.
First, the area is mainly agricultural, and was more densely populated when the county was created than almost any other equal area in this region.
The settlers were almost entirely from hilly, heavily wooded and well watered countries, and the undulating surface, convenient division of prairie and timber, the numerous sparkling springs, and swift streams, with a long border upon the river, invested it with a special charm to the eye of the pioneers, and caused the greater concentration here.
Again, as they have increased in wealth, the more successful have bought out the smaller farms, and their former owners have gone west for cheaper lands, and more elbow room.
Again, thousands of the children of the original settlers, on reaching their majority, have emigrated and made homes elsewhere. If all born and reared in the county had remained here, the increase would be matter of surprising interest. It is a parent hive, ever sending forth its swarms.
As to the character and condition of the early settlers, they were invariably poor. All their capital consisted of a team, a cow, a few dogs, a rifle gun, wife and children, unconquerable will, an honest purpose, and a deep seated hatred of social cast, and aristocratic pretensions. If any one came among them who presumed to elevate his head above the common level, he was sure to get it thumped. Or if any one descended below the common level, and did a mean act, he was generally told of a healthier country, and advised to go to it-and usually took the advice. Little foreign capital has ever been brought within the county limits. All the property, in town and country, has been produced on the spot. Nearly every one is safe and solvent, and knows how he got what he has.
The County Seat
One inducement to make Winchester the county seat was the liberal conditions offered by, and imposed upon the inhabitants of the town; which were that the town furnish the ground and pay $5000, the estimated cost, to build a court house and jail, which they did, and the county has never yet built a court house.
This fact, which is probably unknown to many, and forgotten by others of our citizens might properly be remembered when the erection of a new court house-now so much needed-is brought to their consideration. Besides this the town has burdened itself, with the school district, about $20,000 to build a suitable school house, and about $50,000 public and private subscription, besides her part of the county subscription, to secure a railroad. Yet it has met its obligations as they matured, trebled its population and business, and is more substantially built than any town of its class, in this section of the country.
As some indication of the financial condition of the county then and now, a few comparisons may be interesting.
The assessment of 1839, was $860,872.00
" " 1875, " 3,616,595.00
The total taxes of 1839, " 4,304.36
" " " 1875 " 24,981.16
The collector's bond of 1839, was 9,500.00
" " " 1875 " 175,000.00
An average value of $3 per acre upon all the land in the county, then, would have been as high as $40 per acre now.
Currency then, had only a local value, extremely fluctuating but now a national value, with sufficient stability to inspire confidence.
The county has incurred a railroad debt of $150,000, $100,000 at 7 per cent, and $50,000 at 10 per cent; yet with what has been paid, with the money on hand, (which the bondholders refuse to receive on bonds not due, because of the superior character of our securities,) and this year's assessment, every dollar, principal and interest of the debt will be paid. Scott county securities have always been first-class in the market, and she may well be proud of her financial position. And with her four banks, which have safely, and honorably passed through every financial crisis, her commercial facilities, in proportion to demand, are unsurpassed.
Education, in the sense meant by the term as commonly used, was at a very low point within the new county when organized; a very large per cent, of the inhabitants could neither read nor write; and a still larger per cent, were not educated beyond the rudiments.
Not more than two thousand dollars per annum was expended in the county to pay for teaching in the schools; and the man who was ambitious for more than the mere rudiments, was regarded as one who was deliberately qualifying himself, with malice afore thought to live without honest labor.
Showing the progress made; the last year 1875-6, there was expended in the county for teaching alone, $18,244.00. More than nine times as much as in 1839, though the population has not doubled, by one-third the original number.
But though the inhabitants were illiterate they were not uneducated. To educate a man is to develop, and awake to activity his powers and principles. And while abstract instruction in Literature and Science will make a man a walking, talking repository of ideas, it too often makes him nothing more. On the other hand, knowledge acquired by actual experience, forced by the emergencies of a struggle for life, in which the actor learns the how, but not the why, often bears him on to eminence, while the man of mere letters remains in the valley below.
To illustrate: --suppose the Professor take a youth into the school room and educate him in the art of hunting game in the forest, he instructs him in the process of making a gun from the mining of the iron, down to the varnishing of the stock-explains how percussion caps are made, the components of gun-powder, the philosophy of its force-the manufacture of shot, the process of cutting wads, the process of loading and discharging the weapon, in a series of lessons, so that he is abstractly learned in all the details of the subject; while another youth with less opportunity, accompanies some old "leather stocking" with his gun to the forest, and in half the time by actual experience becomes skilled in its use, so that while one would return from the woods with his gun bursted and no game, the other would return in good order, covered with blood and feathers, and an ample supply.
So with the early settlers, with little education in the schools, they were men of observation, strong will and large experience; and many of them achieved distinction rarely attained by men of better opportunities for literary culture.
But such distinction is not to be expected, except among men in like condition; with advancing civilization, they must be educated up to the public demand. A country has but one generation of pioneers.
Under our common school system, facilities are extended to all. Scott county has manifested a noble determination to sustain it. In place of the log school houses, nearly every district has erected a neat, substantial and commodious building, amply provided with the modern appliances for illustration, in which all the youth may be freely taught, by the best of Professors. The first school law in the State, that provided for State and County Superintendents, and fixed the standard qualification of teachers, was written by a citizen of Scott county in 1845, and passed that year. And that general standard of qualifications, remains the same as fixed in that act. The Secretary of State, was by said act made ex-officio State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Since then it has been made an independent office. School Commissioners of counties were made ex-officio County Superintendents, and have so continued. Grades have also been introduced into the school system, and additional qualifications been prescribed for teachers of the higher grades; but the standard for teachers of the common school proper, remains as fixed by the original law; and one of the highest duties of the State is to preserve, and maintain the common school system, as a security for the permanence of our free Institutions.
Moral And Religious
There has been no want of attention to the moral and religious interests of our people. There are now no less than twenty-five church edifices in the county, and about thirty religious organizations; several using school houses as places of worships. Thus a regular edifice is provided for about every four hundred of our population, including persons of all ages. The number of Sunday schools is, we suppose, about equal to the number of church organizations.
It may seem that the character of the people is not what might reasonably be expected from such facilities. But their value would be appreciated were we once deprived of them. Constant collision of opinions, plans and modes of action must occur in a community composed of persons brought into competition in the life-struggle from all parts of the globe, and it takes time and much influential effort to harmonize them. Yet our police records, and criminal calendar, show on the whole, the number of felonies, and the more flagrant crimes to be commendably small. No person has ever suffered the death penalty in Scott county for homicide committed in the county. The two executed were brought by change of venue from a foreign county. One has been sent to the penitentiary, for homicide committed here. Scott county, of her own population, has now no representative in the penitentiary. We would not, however, be understood as intimating that there is not much room for improvement.
The first railroad survey in Scott county was from Jacksonville via Lynnville, Winchester, and down Nettle Creek to the Illinois River. This was before the county was created. A railroad office was opened in Winchester, profiles made and ties contracted for, and in the minds of the people the road was a fait accompli. But it failed and left no sign. The first railroad constructed in the State, also ran through Scott county. In 1837, a road of twenty miles in length, from Naples to Jacksonville was in operation; strap-iron rails, spiked on to wooden stringers, on which regular trips were made, except when the mules that hauled the trains got lame, or broke out and strayed in the tall grass on the bottom. Now the county is fenced in by railroads and the river.
It is touched on the north by the Naples & Hannibal and T.W.&W.; on the east by the C.&A.; just below the south line the Louisiana Branch of the C.&A.; on the west by the Illinois River; and through the centre, the St. Louis, Rockford & Chicago. To secure these facilities the county and people of Scott have actually paid over $300,000, besides donating a large part of the ground for right of way. These subscriptions show the popular enterprise, and the prompt payment, the integrity and good faith of the inhabitants. Besides the railroads, the Illinois River is one of the safest and best of navigable streams, with five shipping points in the county, altogether giving us unusual facilities for commercial intercourse compared with our former situation in that regard.
There have been published within the limits of Scott, first and last, sixteen newspapers; the first was published by the writer, called the Spirit of the West, at the Naples, in 1837-8. Next was Delahay's Naples Post. Then Ormsbee's Battle Axe-devoted to the repudiation of the State debt; that was a double edged axe, that killed the Editor, without seducing the State from its integrity. Next the Winchester Republican, by Ruggles. It was but of "few days and full of trouble." Then there was the Naples Observer, by Tilden, it died and left no sign. Some time in the order came Ellis' Valley Register, and the Western Unionist, and Dedman's Winchester Chronicle, and Chapman & Davies' Democrat, and Charlie Sellon's Scott County News, and Bunce's Winchester Herald, Collins' Scott County Union, DeLeib Ambrose's Winchester Star, by no means a star of the first magnitude! And last but not least of course, the Times and the Independent. I should, however, mention a very spirited periodical, published for a time by the Rev. Alvin Bailey, called the Voice of Truth. It was devoted to theological discussion.
I may have omitted some, and mis-named others; but I have mentioned enough to show that we ought to be a very intelligent people, if home newspapers could make us so. Some were good papers; others not.
The first County Commissioners were David Rankin, Edward Mitchell and Absalom Peak
August, 1839, they were succeeded by Edward Mitchell, Holloway W. Vansyckel and Robert McCrackin. In 1840, Moses Wetmore succeeded Mitchel. In 1841, Jonathan C. Wright, of Mormon fame, succeeded Vansyckel. In 1842, Vansyckel was re-elected to supersede McCrackin. In 1843, Samuel Peak succeeded Wetmore. In 1844, Jonathan C. Wright was succeeded by Scott Riggs. In 1845, H. W. Vansyckel by Wm. D. Smithson. In 1846, Samuel Peak by David McConnel. In 1847, Scott Riggs by William A. Langston. In 1848, Wm. D. Smithson by Thos. Robinson. Robinson was killed in the erection of a bridge over Big Sandy Creek, in the fall after his election. He was much respected, and very expressive memorial resolutions, were placed upon the record at the December Term of that year, and the court formally adjourned as a token of respect, for the memory of the deceased. Pleasant M. Phears was chosen to fill the vacancy.
In October, 1849, after the adoption of the Constitution of 1847, the County Commissioners Court, was superseded by a court composed of a County Judge and two Associate Justices. The first court under this organization was composed of John Moses, County Judge, and John B. Campbell and Edward Tankersley, Associate Justices. These persons continued in office till the December Term, 1853, when John B. Campbell, succeeded to the County Judgeship, and Absalom Peak, was elected, and Edward Tankersley, re-elected, Associates. In 1857, William Leighton was elected County Judge, Robert Husband and James F. Curtis, Associates. James F. Curtis, resigned April 12th, 1858, because of the issuance of the railroad bonds by a majority of the court. Jesse Husted was elected to fill the vacancy. In 1861, Henry Dresser, was elected County Judge, and Thomas G. Beadles and Aley R. Smith, Associates. Beadles resigned March 9th, 1864, and Wm. H. Beadles was elected in November of that year to fill the vacancy. November, 1865, Thos. H. Flynn was elected Judge, Washington Sears and Jas. D. Roodhouse, Associates. In 1869, Thomas P. Rowen was elected Judge, John Green and Samuel J. Hopkins, Associates. Hopkins resigned and was succeeded November 19th, 1870, by Robert Young. In 1873, under the new Constitution, Wm. A. Gillham the present incumbent, was elected County Judge, his court made a court of record, with civil, criminal and probate jurisdiction, and the court for county business, composed of three Commissioners, to which position John W. Summers, James D. Roodhouse and Wm. R. Hamilton were elected. These go out by rotation, and in 1874, Nimrod Leib was elected to succeed Hamilton. In 1875, John W. Summers became his own successor, and he now with Roodhouse and Leib, constitute the county commissioners court.
N. M. Knapp was the first County Clerk of Scott county; he held the office from the organization of the county till September, 1843. He issued his own marriage license, as well as that of many present whose brows bear the frost-wreaths of many years. Ormsbee Haynie was Clerk from 1843 to 1849. William Leighton from 1849 to 1857. Thos. P. Rowen from 1857 to 1865. When he was succeeded by George W. Martin, who has held the office from then till now, and is the present incumbent.
The county has had but five, Levi Harlan, E. B. Kirby, John Moses, George G. Terry and George W. Argust, the present incumbent.
Recorder of Deeds
The first Recorder of Deeds was Francis Stebbins; he was succeeded in August 1839, by Ira Rowen, who continued to hold the office until it was abolished by law, and the duties of Recorder attached to the office of Circuit Clerk.
The first incumbent was John Kirkpatrick, who was succeeded by L. E. H. Houghton, and he by Joseph H. Berry, who held the office till merged in the office of County Judge.
The Sheriffs, in their order, were Robert H. Dow, Thomas G. Black, Daniel Avery, David Johnson, Thomas H. Flynn, Daniel Avery again, Thomas H. Flynn again, Thomas R. Roberts, Newell S. Leighton, Festus T. Hale, Newell S. Leighton again, Samuel Sperry, James M. Riggs, Wm. C. Davis, who died in office, and J. S. Shnell Coroner filled out his time, James H. Stewart, A. A. Wheelock, who served two terms, and Robert A. Blair, the present incumbent.
First, Geo. M. Richards, an excellent officer; 1843, Seneca McEvers, in 1847, Solomon Farrington, 1849, John G. Mitchell, 1850, Francis G. Murray, 1851, Seneca McEvers again, in 1853, 1855 W. W. Chapman, in 1861 Seneca McEvers, 1865 Nelson Morgan, 1867 Seneca McEvers, and has held it ever since.
First County Treasurer, was Thomas Kersey, in 1843 John Hanback, 1846 F. T. Hale, and held till 1861, he was then succeeded by Wm. J. Woodward, 1863 Newell S. Leighton, 1865 John T. Wilson, 1867 F. T. Hale, 1873 he was succeeded by Mahlon B. Moore, and he in 1875 by John H. Coates, present incumbent.
Wm. Funk and George B. Bacon, at some time filled vacancies by appointment.
School Commissioners and Superintendents
The first record of School Commissioner was in 1843, the incumbent Edward G. Miner, following in order were Washington Starrett, Henry Case, William Condit, Newton Howard, William W. Pontius, (by appointment,) William Howard, James R. Haggard, William T. Collins, (by appointment,) James Callans, and Rufus Funk, the present incumbent.
The first Representative from Scott county was Joseph W. Ormsbee, elected in 1840, an eccentric man of very impracticable ideas. In 1842 Lorenzo Edwards and Edward Mitchell. In 1844 James Leighton and John White. In 1846 John B. Campbell and E. G. Miner. In 1848 Charles F. Keener. In 1850 N. M. Knapp. In 1852 Royal Mooers. In 1854 Morgan and Scott, Horace A. Brown for Scott. In 1856 Elisha B. Hitt, re-elected in 1858. In 1860 Albert G. Burr. In 1862 with Pike, Albert G. Burr. In 1864 James F. Curtis. In 1866 Thomas Hollowbush. In 1868 Henry Dresser. In 1870 James M. Riggs. In 1872 Henry Dresser. In 1874 with Pike and Calhoun, John Moses and James Callans, upon whom the honors still rest.
The first man elected to the Senate who resided in Scott, was the late Col. Thomas M. Killpatrick, who fell at Shiloh. He was elected in 1840, in a district composed of Scott, Morgan and Cass, over the late Gen. Murray McConnell. Killpatrick was but little known to the party leaders, while McConnell was recognized as one of the hardest men upon the stump to be found in the State, and it was with considerable difficulty that the friends of Killpatrick could induce the convention to nominate him. But he was finally placed upon the course. He immediately challenged his competitor for joint debate, which was of course accepted, and there ensued such a series of exciting discussions between the Potter and the Lawyer, as this country has seldom been treated to. Killpatrick was a man of moderate advantages, but of great natural ability, and dauntless courage. He had the further advantage of no previous political record to embarrass him. McConnel on the other hand, though his early education was meagre, had the advantage of a legal education, was quick and sharp witted, of large worldly experience, defiant in manner, but had been much concerned in public affairs, and being a man of extreme views, and prompt action, had the disadvantage of having made, in some respects, a vulnerable record. Killpatrick at once carried the war into Africa, and McConnel unexpectedly found his match in every mode of warfare. The fame of the contest spread far and near. McConnel was overwhelmed with defeat, and Killpatrick was triumphantly elected. He was re-elected in 1844 and served with distinction for eight years.
Under the census of 1840 the State was re-districted, and a Senatorial election for one-half the Senators occurring in 1842, an election was ordered in the new district composed of Scott and Cass, and the late James Gillham, of Scott, had the honor of an election, but failed to get his seat, it being decided that the territory was represented, the term of the Senator who was elected there under former districting having not expired.
These were the only men ever elected to the Senate from Scott, from the fact that the county has always been tied on, for Senatorial purposes, to larger counties, which have controlled the nominations. Not that the county has not always had a plenty of 'Barkises' extremely 'willin'; but circumstances over which they had no control, have kept them forever squealing on the outside of the fence.
Three conventions have assembled to revise the State constitution since Scott county was created. One in 1847, one 1862, and one in 1870. To the first, N. M. Knapp and Daniel Dinsmore were delegates; to the second, Albert G. Burr; to the third, John Abbott.
The constitution of 1847 produced both good and evil results. It removed the legal restraints that had before prevented associated capital from developing the resources of the State, and opened up facilities which resulted in the payment of the State debt, and the construction of our immense system of railroads. On the other hand, our free banking system, based on State Bonds, sprang up, which resulted in a financial crisis, so soon as the contingency of war depreciated the securities; and the desire to secure the location of railroads, led the counties to involve themselves in debt, which in the aggregate are perhaps equal to the State debt that was paid by the enhancement of values and increased taxation. It is, however, some satisfaction to reflect that the immense increase in the basis of taxation, relieves us of all apprehension as to our ability to pay our county debts.
The second amended constitution failed of ratification by the people, and never went into force.
The third restored the restriction upon public credit, and proposes to hold the people back from further extravagance until they have paid for their past folly.
Scott county has furnished four regularly nominated candidates for Congress. Thomas M. Killpatrick, Henry Case, N. M. Knapp, and A. G. Burr, the last named, (Hon. A. G. Burr,) was the only one who was successful, he served creditably two consecutive terms; the others had to content themselves with a view of the promised land from afar.
Judges of Circuit Court
The first Judge who held Circuit Court in our county, was Hon. William Thomas, and the first term was held in the old Methodist Chapel, now James Watt's paint shop. He was succeeded by Hon. Samuel D. Lockwood, who presided till the year 1848; the Judges from that time were elected by the people, and Judge Lockwood was succeeded by Hon. D. M. Woodson, who by successive re-elections held the bench for eighteen years. Following him, was Hon. Charles D. Hodges, who was succeeded by the present incumbent, Hon. Cyrus Epler, all of whom were men of honor, capacity and unswerving integrity. All of whom, except Lockwood, who died recently, are yet living.
The Bar of Scott
During the first years of the county of Scott, home lawyers were few, and of little experience, and as most of the people had their favorites at the old county seat, they continued to employ them; and at every term the lawyers from other counties swarmed like the incoming of a circus troupe. And no stronger bar has ever since arisen in the State then practiced here at that time.
Among whom, as best remembered, I may mention John J. Hardin, E. D. Baker, Stephen A. Douglas, Richard Yates, Josiah Lamborn, James A. McDougal, Murray McConnel, Wm. Brown and later, David A. Smith, John L. McConnel and others.
Of those specially mentioned, several were more than ordinary men. But their history is so well known to many of you, that we will not, in the time and space allotted to this exercise, attempt an extended reference to them severally.
John J. Hardin, however, was the popular favorite. He was not the best lawyer, but he was genial, witty, and everybody's man. His forte was before the jury, and no matter how desperate his case, he generally hit upon some device to win. One of the forms which his wit sometimes took on was doggerel verse. An instance will perhaps be remembered by some present.
One Wyatt Whittle and one James Ragland, had a contract into which the building of a house and a pair of mules in some way entered, out of which a suit arose.
Hardin was on one side and John P. Jordan, a resident lawyer, on the other. Hardin found he had the hard side, and so in his closing speech, to divert the minds of the jury, he resorted to poetry-which ran thus:
"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To the mule team of Jas. Ragland,
And have them, that will I.
A house for me shall Whittle make,
And I'll give Jordan something-
That when he comes his pay to take,
He'll whittle him down to nothing."
The by-standers roared with laughter, the jury joined in, and Jordan was gone-Hardin was victor!
He was killed in the battle of Buena Vista, and the same messenger that brought the news of his death, brought also the news of the death of Lamborn, at Whitehall. One died an honorable death; the other, "unwept, unhonored and unsung."
Of those above mentioned, all except Jordan are dead-perhaps he-no good reason is known why he should not be.
The following list we believe, comprises all the members of the bar who have ever settled in Scott county with the intention to practice, as also those admitted here. It is, however, impossible for me to give them in proper order for want of dates, and some may have been entirely forgotten:
John P. Jordan, all who ever dealt with him remember him. When last heard from, he was the dirtiest of a lot of rebel prisoners at Richmond. Joseph H. Berry, N. M. Knapp, L. E. Houghton-better known as Liberty Equality Hurrah for Jackson Houghton; Bryan R. Houghton, who fell at Buena Vista, Mexico, with his face to the foe. He is buried in the Cemetery south of Winchester, and it is no credit to this county that not even a stone marks his resting place. J. W. Ormsby, Mark W. Delehay, Rich'd Hollister, James C. Rucker, H. C. Lilley, Geo. Handy, John Moses, J. B. Edmondson, A. W. Sweet, Alex. Smith, James White Leal, killed by the Indians at Taos, (N.M.); E. Maxwell Leal, W. W. Chapman, Henry Case, Byron L. Gregory, Albert G. Burr, Ira Rowen, John Haldeman, died a prisoner of war at Columbia, S.C.; Lewis Lewton, since a Judge in Ohio; Ira A. Haldeman, Newton Howard, died in service at Nashville, Tennessee; Samuel W. Puffer, admitted, but struck something better, and never practiced; Robert C. Beach, James M. Riggs, Wm. T. Collins, John G. Henderson, James Callans, W. W. Berry, Lowell Call, B. H. Skinner, Webster C. Wilkinson, James F. Greathouse, James A. Warren, Arthur W. Argust, Zerah Snow, L. H. White.
COUNTY COURT-David Rankin, Edward Mitchell, Absalom Peck, Robert McCrackin, Moses Wetmore, David McConnell, Wm. A. Langston, Thomas Robinson, Pleasant Phears, John B. Campbell, Edward Tankersly, Robt. Husband, Aley R. Smith.
COUNTY CLERK-Ormsbee Haney.
CIRCUIT CLERK-Levi Harlan
RECORDERS-Francis Stebbins, Ira Rowen, (all.)
PROBATE JUSTICES-John Kirkpatrick, L.E.H. Houghton, Joseph H. Berry, (all.)
SHERIFFS-Daniel Avery, Newell S. Leighton, Wm. C. Davis, T. R. Roberts, all known.
COUNTY SURVEYORS-George M. Richards, Solomon Farrington
COUNTY TREASURERS-John Hanback, Wm. J. Woodward, N. S. Leighton, Wm. Funk
SCHOOL COMMISSIONER-Newton Howard
REPRESENTATIVES-J. W. Ormsby, Edward Mitchell, John White, John B. Campbell, Charles F. Keener, Royal Mooers
STATE SENATORS-Thomas M. Killpatrick and James Gilham, (all.)
DELEGATE TO CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION-David Dunsmore
CIRCUIT JUDGE-Samuel D. Lockwood
LAWYERS-That have practiced at the Scott County Bar including those non-resident and resident numbering 55-23 are known to be deceased.
The write took the census of the county in 1845. Of the heads of families on that list, two-thirds have gone. Of the first Grand Jury that was empannelled in the Circuit Court, but two remain.
One by one they have sunk from sight-the waves closed over them and the surface was unruffled as before. The sod has been broken, the rumbling earth heaped upon their breasts-the grass has newly grown-and only the eye of sorrow now seeks for the spot. Soon many of us will sleep beside them; and before the century closes which we this day begin, all the hearts so buoyant and joyous, will be pulseless ashes!
Men of Note
Some men of special note have at sometime in their life resided within the limits of Scott, or done business therein. Hardin, already mentioned, Gen. E. D. Baker, who fell at Balls Bluff, Col. Thomas M. Killpatrick, who was killed at Shiloh, Hon. J. A. McDougal, who was long a Senator of the United States, Gen. M. McConnel, once an Auditor in the U. S. Treasury Department, John L. McConnell, author of several well-known books, Hon. A. G. Burr, two terms a member of Congress, Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, whose name will live commensurate with the history of the Republic.
He commenced his career in the town of Winchester, an orphan boy, without means, as a school teacher, from which he rose, through various offices, to the Senate of the United States, and to the candidacy of his party for the Presidency.
And Stephen Paxson, the celebrated Western Sunday School champion. In 1840 he was doing a small business as a hat manufacturer in Winchester. No one who knew him then would have even dreamed of such a future for him. He was quite illiterate, and stammered so badly that one had to wait in painful suspense while the commonest expression struggled for utterance. He had a melodious voice, and delighted in singing ribald songs for the amusement of any crowd that would listen. He contemned sacred things, and thought he was an infidel. He had, however, a large heartedness, and many positive qualities. The writer gave him Nelson on Infidelity, with a request that he read it, mark the passages where he thought the statements not true, or the reasoning Incorrect, and report for discussion. When he returned the book, it was unmarked. Soon after, he was converted and joined the Methodist Church. He was changed in all his ways. He entered the Sunday School, and his zeal in the cause soon absorbed his whole being; he thought there ought to be Sunday Schools everywhere. He went into the country to talk to the people, and was astonished to find opposition. Not being accustomed to public discussion, he appealed to the writer to go and talk for him, which he did, and a school or two was organized. He determined to try speaking himself, and at his request, a speech was blocked out for him with heads enough to select from to suit any occasion. It was awkward work at first, but in a few weeks he surprised all who knew him, and he developed a reputation not confined to our own country. He has probably traveled more miles with his own conveyance, addressed more children, and organized more Sunday Schools, than any living man. Only eternity can develop the results of his influence. His example shows what obstacles, will, zeal and continuity of purpose can overcome.
Other Domestic Interests
The county being in large part a coal field; abundantly supplied with quarries of excellent building rock, and several fine qualities of clay, as well as an abundance of timber, it is well adapted to various kinds of
Not much has been done in this direction till recently, for want of transportation facilities. Since the construction of the "Rockford, Rock Island & St. Louis Railroad," through the country, some of our citizens have embarked in manufacturing enterprises. No foreign capital has, however, been attracted, and only the private capital of the moving parties has been invested. Some of these establishments for the enterprise displayed, deserve special mention:
The Coons Brothers
Agricultural Implements, Hardwood Lumber, Drain Tile, Fire Brick, etc., etc. Their products are of high order and fine quality-some of their agricultural implements having received first premiums at the St. Louis Fair. Their building, machinery, and other facilities, give them a manufacturing capacity of at least $150,000 per annum. They are not working up to their capacity for want of capital, but hope to reach it when their works and facilities are better known.
All kinds and grades of Furniture, Wheeled Vehicles, repairs, etc. Manufacturing capacity so far as tools, machinery, and shop facilities are concerned, estimated at $200,000.
Wm. H. Moreledge-with Clark, Bros. & Mosher
Mr. Moreledge is not a member of the latter named firm, but owns a portion of the motive power, and both use the same, and are, therefore, mentioned together. Carriages, Buggies, Wagons, Plows, repairs and general blacksmithing. Product about $50,000 per annum, with capacity of motive power and shop facilities for double that amount.
Winchester Coal and Mining Company
Moses, Frost & Bates, motive power and capacity to use $50,000 capital to advantage. Annual gross product, $30,000. Have uncovered an inexhaustible bed of finest quality of clay for fire brick, tile, crucibles, glass manufacture, etc. Could give employment to one hundred men, and could reach an annual clay product of $250,000 with the requisite capital, which would be a paying investment, as the facilities are much better than at any point where such works are carried on in this region of country.
Pottery ware, drain tile, and fire brick to some extent-Winchester and Smithfield. An old and successful manufacturer, makes a superior quality of ware, and fills orders extensively over the west. Annual product not ascertained, but the most extensive manufacturer in that line in the county, and has built up his business by perseverance through all the vicisitudes of finance and obstacles to transportation, and is rewarded in the enjoyment of a good return.
Those named are some of the leading manufacturing industries. There are in the county some nine incorporated towns and village centres in most, if not all of which mere handi-work shop manufacturing is carried on, such as blacksmithing, tinware, harness ware, brooms, cooperage, wagon work, plows, etc., which my limits will not permit me to notice particularly. I might however, properly add, that there are excellent facilities for the manufacture of paper of any quality at several points in this county.
We ought, perhaps, in another place, to have said something of the great improvement in farm houses, since this became a county. At that time, nearly all the rural residences were log houses, covered with split boards, and chinked with sticks and mortar. The man who had two cabins, with a hall between, in which he could tip back in his split bottomed chair beneath the over-hanging plow gears and saddles, and bare his brow to the cooling draught of air which swept through, was regarded as one of the nobles; and his house a good place to stop for dinner, or stay over-night. There in that hall, too, might often be seen the loom in which the economical house wife wove the web of blue Jeans in which the family was clad, and from the like of which many present had their wedding coats fabricated. Those cabins were, nevertheless, the abodes of whole-hearted hospitality, and the people were as proud in their Jeans as they are now in their shining broad-cloth and shirt-studs; or in dresses trimmed and flounced, and gathered and complicated till they look as though they had been blown through a bramble thicket by a hurricane.
But now, in place of the cabins, up to whose very door the calves could come for salt, and the pigs for their rations, we see everywhere, large commodious houses, of tasteful architecture, elegantly furnished, surrounded with parks and gardens, where horticulture and floriculture make rich and beautiful displays, and within which, dainty refinement, with yawning over fashion plates and novel patterns, and thrumming machine music, beguiles the tedium of the waning hours.
Question for the debating club: Were the People Happier Then or Now?
With the military history of the county, and some general remarks, we will relieve your patience. Poor people, and those in medium circumstances, are always patriotic. A free people never lose their liberties, till they become wealthy-till they feel that they are able to take care of themselves, independent of the government. They never lose their patriotic regard for Republican or Democratic principles of liberty and equality until they become corrupt, and possessed of an arbitrary spirit, disposed to deny to their fellow men the privileges and immunities they claim for themselves.
The early settlers of Scott had a very even start in the race of life. Whether from the States of the Union, or from foreign lands, they were signally blessed with honest poverty and true patriotism. Their patriotism showed itself in their general attendance at political gatherings; their high estimate of the right to vote, and their ready response to military requisitions. Many can remember how, under the old militia law, we used to
"Tread the briars and bushes down,
Following Col. Summers 'round."
But that, after awhile became too much like child's play, with no enemy in sight, and the system soon fell into disuse. The people were disposed to burlesque it, and though armies may stand shot, shell, and cold steel, they can't stand ridicule. The infantry arm, Col. Rucker, commanding, was put to rout by Capt. O. B. Hale's Fantastics, and never returned to the filed.
The cavalry, under command of McDow, in the terrible days of the Mormon War, received orders from Gov. Ford to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moments warning. They accordingly rendezvoused at Winchester, divided into messes, made arrangements for the campaign, and each, with sanguinary ardor, returned to his home, to rally in hot haste, whenever a signal of three guns should notify them that the order had come to rush to the bloody field at Nauvoo. Days passed and no order; finally the news came that the war was ended. It was received just at dark, and well disposed citizens retired to their homes to sleep in peace. Not so with Young America. They thought the cavalry company, who were dispersed all over the county, ought to know the news. So at midnight, the rain pouring in torrents, they got out the old cannon, and fired the agreed signal of three guns, whereupon they housed their artillery and dispersed to their virtuous couches. All was rain, and mud, and darkness. Soon, however, the spatter of horses feet, and the rattling of sabres could be heard upon all roads converging to the county seat. The Square was soon full of water-soaked cavaliers with dripping plumes, plunging around in the darkness, eager to flesh their maiden swords in the bodies of the perpetrators of the hoax. The way "our army swore in Flanders," was mild compared with the oaths they uttered. Finally, finding no other enemy, they charged upon and vanquished a saloon, and returned to their homes, flushed with rage and whisky, to beat their swords into plowshares, determined not to learn war any more. Then the county had peace until the breaking out of the war with Mexico.
For that war the State furnished six regiments, and the quota of Scott county was one company, which was promptly raised by volunteer enlistments, and organized with Sam. Montgomery, Capt.; Bryan R. Houghton, 1st Lieut.; Benjamin Harris, 2d Lieut.; Hezekiah Evans, Sr., 3d Lieut.; Thomas H. Flynn, Orderly, and about 80 privates. They went to the seat of war under Col. John J. Hardin, and served one year. They were in many skirmishes, and their service culminated in the hard fought battle of Buena Vista in 1847, in which battle the company lost six killed and seven wounded; among the killed was Lieut, Bryan R. Houghton; and Lieut. Harris having been previously discharged, Lieut. Evans became 1st Lieutenant, and Flynn, who had become 3d by the discharge of Lieut. Harris, became 2d Lieutenant, and Thomas R. Roberts 3d; thus organized, the company returned to their homes in the summer of 1847, with certificates of honorable discharge, reduced, however, by the casualties of the service to about half their original number.
But it was in the war to suppress the rebellion, that Scott county showed, that whatever demand the country makes upon her, she will meet it to the limit of possibility. With a voting population of 2,200 over 1,460 volunteered in the different arms of the service. The Adjutant General's report credits the county with 1,212 voluntary enlistments under different calls, based upon her ascertained quotas. And more than two hundred, who failed to get in under the earlier calls went to other counties and other States, and were credited to them, in their eagerness to have part in the war. These volunteers were not confined to any political party. When the call to arms was heard, in many patriotism rose above party, and Democrats and Republicans hastened, side by side, under one flag, to the scenes of the conflict. They marched to the music of the Union, buried their differences upon the field of battle, and returned-if they returned at all-under one banner, whereon was inscribed Liberty, Equality and Union. Scarcely a household but has a proud, sad memory-scarcely one that treasures not some relic, the sight of which re-opens the fountain of sorrow. Yet all submit with loyal resignation to the sacrifice. No people ever evinced their devotion to their government more unmistakably. And the altar-fires that were kindled by the heroes of the revolution, are found burning with undiminished fervor.
This is the first day of the second century of our National Independence. Probably not one here present will see its close. But, emulating our revolutionary sires, may the virtues of this, and succeeding generations, so solidify and strengthen our fabrics of government that the dawn of the next century may find them unshaken, more glorious, objects of admiration to countless millions of free people, who shall continue to regard them, as we now do, the repositories of superlative moral, and political blessings for themselves and their posterity. And may they continue to be so regarded throughout all the future centuries that shall roll like tidal waves from the ocean of eternity, over the sparkling waters, laughing valleys, and gold-bearing mountains of this our glorious country.
To The Toast
"Our Centennial Exposition 1776 - 1876"
by John Moses
A hundred years! The Centennial Anniversary of our nation's birth! One hundred years of struggle, of conflict with opposing forces from without and within, from beginnings with rude materials, to a steady, upward, bounding growth, to colossal proportions, outstepping and overshadowing the other nations of earth! One hundred years, and we have increased from 3,000,000 to 45,000,000 of people-from 13 feeble, to 38 might states-from a territory confined to a border of land as originally settled along the Atlantic, to one reaching now from its northern boundary to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean! What was then a few sparsely settled colonies without an army or a treasury, or common bond of union, is now what we behold and enjoy this day, a wealthy, prosperous, united, mighty nation.
As a part of the programme of this day's celebration, there has been organized and arranged at Philadelphia, the Mecca of American Nationality-a world's exhibition of arts, manufactures, products of the soil and mines, in order to illustrate our unparalleled growth and advancement in all those things which make a people powerful and happy, as well as to contrast our progress, and present high position with the meagre achievements of a century ago.
An act of Congress incorporating the Centennial Commission was passed in 1874, and since that time the work of organizing and preparing for the great exposition has gone on. Other nations have responded to our invitation to participate in our great omni-national gathering. In addition to the exhibits from our own country, we have those from Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Morocco, and the Islands of the seas, so that it is emphatically a World's Fair.
The place selected for this great exposition is a portion of the Fairmount Park, on the banks of the Schuylkill river, about four miles from the city. A situation more sightly and appropriate, comprising 236 acres of undulating ground, could not have been selected. Within this enclosure are located the five principal exhibition buildings, and about 150 other buildings used for various purposes connected with the fair. The main building is 1,880 feet (over a third of a mile) long, by 464 wide. It covers 21 1-2 acres of ground, and cost $1,000,000. The machinery hall covers 14 acres, and the agricultural hall 10 1-2. The art gallery is a permanent structure, built of granite, glass and iron, and cost $1,500,000. The horticultural hall is the smallest of the main buildings, and cost $231,000.
In addition to the main buildings, there are the U. S. government hall, the women's pavilion, the hall of public comfort, besides various smaller buildings, used for exhibition purposes, so that all the buildings within the enclosure proper, cover 75 acres of ground, and cost, with fittings up, nearly $7,000,000.
The buildings and grounds of ours compared with other World's Exhibitions, are as follows: That of London, in 1862, covered 24 acres, and cost $2,300,000; that of Paris, in 1867, covered 40 1-2 acres, and cost 4,500,000; that of Vienna, in 1873, covered 50 acres, and cost $9,850,000.
The greater cost of the latter was owing to the amount laid out on the main building. Those who have visited these expositions, are unanimous in their verdict that, while each were superior to ours in some particular feature, as in the cost of the main building as compared with that at Vienna, that taken as a whole, and especially in home exhibits, ours far surpasses them all. Of course it cannot be expected that what we could not half see in fifty hours, could be pictured in the brief moments allotted to a toast.
On arriving at the grounds, the gates swing open at the exhibition of the magic fee, and the visitor at once beholds in magnificent array, a world of life and beauty; statutes, fountains, and buildings of granite, glass, iron and wood in varied colors, with flags and banners gaily floating in the breeze. In their proper places the best things of manufacture and art from all nations are presented to view. Europe, Asia, Africa and America have poured out their finest treasures of ingenuity and toil. All that has ever been conceived of the practical and the ornamental of modern as well as ancient civilization, is there displayed.
In connection with the day we celebrate, it is an embodiment and an expression of a centuries progress-of the power, influence and intelligence of our nation. It places the youngest of empires alongside the oldest, and invites comparison, not fearing the result.
It is also a memory. As we see what we now are in contrast with our small beginning of an hundred years ago, we go back to Bunker Hill and Independence Hall. We think of Hancock and Adams, of Putnam and Washington, and their noble compeers who labored so successfully to secure the blessings we this day enjoy. It is a memory of struggles and triumphs in our early and later history-of conflicts and vicissitudes in peace and war. And finally it is a result-the fact accomplished of the brotherhood of man-of a government "of the people, by the people and for the people"-of social and political equality. Mankind is capable of self government, so that if we but keep in mind those great principles of freedom, and justice, and truth, as the foundation stones upon which our great republic rests, there shall be no longer in this land, sectionalism, oppression, or the denial of civil liberty.Finis.
Transcribed by: Bertha Emmett