The Old Folks.
Gray Heads but Joyous Hearts. Those Who Came Before.
Originally Published in the Kendall County Record, August 31, 1887.
Edited and Compiled by Elmer Dickson.
“There is a mighty good-looking set of old folks in this county,” said a man on the Fair Grounds last Thursday. And he was right. It was the occasion of the Old Settlers annual gathering and picnic.
Some of the old farmer fathers and mothers are dreadfully deceiving in appearance. Go out to the home when they are doing chores with their work clothes on, and they look like ordinary folks, plain country people living simple, honest, benignant lives. But see them at a general gathering, at an old settlers’ picnic, when they lay aside the workday life and go out for a good time! The good fathers and mothers look like lords and ladies of high degree, and in courtesy, sociability and dignified deportment they can discount any city crowd that ever gathered.
As you look over the hundreds who sat in the amphitheatre mingled with the groups about the grounds, one felt that Kendall County was peopled by as fine men and women as any spot on God’s beautiful earth.
The annual gathering has passed. Whole hearted greetings for 1887 lodge in the hearts of hundreds. Our people feel that the day was one of privilege and contentment.
Thursday morning was given to the gathering of the assembly, to the meeting of families and neighbors, and to preparation for the dinner and noon lunch. All of these preliminaries were gone through royally.
It was nearly two ’clock when the platform was occupied and the exercises began. President Henning and Secretary Aldrich were there, and that splendid leader of song, Marcellus Evans, struck up “Coronation” which was sung with zest by the throng. Following this came a few verses of another popular hymn, and Mrs. Delia Aldrich read the necrological report for the past year. She had done her work very thoroughly as the following will show:
The Death Register.
The following are the names of the early settlers of this vicinity, now Kendall County, who have passed on to the better land since our last annual meeting.
Susan (Miller) Edwards, wife of Thomas Edwards, was a native of Methwold, Norfolk County, England. In 1840 she came to America and settled on a farm at Oswego, where she married, raised a family, and closed an active useful life October 9, 1886, aged 72 years.
Charlotte (Bartlett) Failing (Mrs. Joseph Failing, Sr.) died at Oswego, October 15, 1886, in the 72nd year of her age. Mrs. Failing came to Oswego in 1839. Her maiden name was Bartlett. The Failing and Bartlett families came west at the same time and settled in Oswego.
Susan C. (McClaskey) Taylor, beloved wife of Lester D. Taylor, died at her home in Millington, November 6, 1886, and departed this life in the 59th year of her age. Mrs. Taylor was the youngest daughter of Alexander McClasky, and came from Meadville, Crawford County Pennsylvania, with his family in 1834, and settled at Indian Creek not long after the Blackhawk War, where they remained for several years. Mr. McClasky sold out and came to Kendall County early in the 1840’s and bought what was known as “Bartram’s Old Stand,” and for number of years furnished “entertainment for man and beast.” “Susan,” as we knew her, was married to L. D. Taylor, December 28, 1852. She was a resident of this vicinity for fifty-three years making her one of the first settlers.
On Christmas morning, December 25, 1886, Elizabeth (Heustis) Johnson, wife of Daniel G. Johnson, and daughter of Solomon Heustis, passed to the other life. Mrs. Johnson was born in what is now Yorkville, January 8, 1839, and at the time of her death was in the 49th year of her age. She is believed to be the oldest native born citizen of our county, whose death is recorded in the annals of this society.
In Plano, December 27, 1886, Mrs. Polly (Thurber) (Oatman) Noble (Mrs. James Noble) was crushed beneath the wheels of a passing train and died January 30, 1886. “Aunt Polly,” as she was usually called, came to Illinois with her sister, Mrs. Cornelius Henning in 1837, and in 1839 was married to John Matlock. Three years after his death, she became Mrs. Noble. Her second husband died in 1872, making her a widow for the second time. After spending nearly fifty years in this community and doubtless having her full share of life’s joys and sorrows she passed on in the 86th year of her age.
Thomas Greenfield, of Oswego, died very suddenly while visiting in Iowa, March 4, 1887. Mr. Greenfield was an early settler, but the exact date of his coming, which was as early as 1840, and of his age, we have no knowledge. We shall be glad to hear of any dates.
Mrs. Sophronia (Clark) Wright, wife of Edward B. Wright, was called hence Sunday morning, June 19, 1887, aged 68 years. For several years Mrs. Wright had been a resident of Newark, but we were not informed of the date she came to Kendall County, only that she was among the first settlers. Will her friends please furnish dates?
Ansel Reed was born in Monroe County, New York, September 28, 1818. His life proved to be one of action, privation and hardship. He came to the Fox River Valley in 1827 when nine years of age. Four years later, in 1831, he came to Big Grove Township with Moses A. Booth, Sr. Mr. Reed lived in this vicinity for more than sixty years making him the oldest settler. His death occurred July 6, 1887. A very interesting account of his adventures and “hairbreadth escapes” during the Blackhawk War may be found in the History of Kendall County by Reverend Hicks. It is with pride and pleasure that we think of, and talk of the struggles and successes of such pioneers as Ansel Reed. We rejoice that they were our fathers, and we rejoice that after bearing the burden and heat of this day, most of them enjoy the sunset of life in peace and plenty, and the fruits of their labor. We, their children, never tire of hearing them recount their toils and adventures.
Lyman S. Knox, Sr. died at Bristol Station, July 17, 1887 at an advanced age. Mr. Knox came to Kendall County in 1835 and settled in Bristol Township. Since then his home has been there or in the immediate vicinity. We would like full particulars.
Esaac Burgess died July 23, 1887, aged 87 years. He was born in Boonville, Oneida County, New York, July 28, 1800. He came to Illinois forty-five years later and settled on a farm in Lisbon Township, where he remained all the remaining years of his life, some forty-two or more years.
Mrs. Leah (Jones) Darnell was born at Laurel Springs, North Carolina February 9, 1805. She died August 4, 1887. Hers was a busy domestic, and responsible life and she performed its duties well, raising eight or ten children to a worthy manhood and womanhood. Mrs. Darnell came with her husband, John Darnell, Sr., long since deceased, in 1831 and settled in Little Rock Township soon after. She lived on the old homestead considerably more than fifty years.
My friends, in writing and speaking of the early settlement of this county, state, and great country, do we not dwell almost entirely on the labors, hardships and trials of our pioneer fathers? Taking little account of the faithful labor, privation and hardships of our pioneer mothers? As a good illustration of many others, take for example the case of Leah Darnell. In her young wifehood, turning from father and mother and the old home, and setting her face toward the far west, knowing well that the dear old associations must all be severed, and that the love in each bosom was the bond that held them together when separated so many miles apart. Yet she came with her pioneer husband, like the true and good wife she was, and performed her full share toward making an independent home. No useless repining, no turning back, but straight ahead in the path of duty. All honor to her and others such as she, and it may be said of her and them, “She hath done what she could.”
Some year since it was agreed by this association that none should be considered as old or early settlers unless they came here previous to the year 1840, and the names of such have been given so far as obtained. However, during the past year many of our good and prominent citizens, who came here between the years 1840 and 1855, have joined the great majority, and their names are placed on the record.
Of those who came between the years of 1840 and 1855 are the following:
Elias A. Black came from Philadelphia to Milford, now Millington, in 1846, where he remained until he removed to Yorkville, which has been his home until his death, which occurred January 4, 1887, in his 70th year. Mrs. Black, his wife by a second marriage, had lived in Yorkville more than twenty-five years. She died at Hot Springs, Arkansas, December 21, 1886.
Jonathan C. Carpenter passed from this life January 6, 1887. He came here from Chemung County, New York, more than thirty years ago. Since that time he had been successfully engaged in agriculture. He died in his 65th year.
John A. Coy died at Newark, March 14, 1887, aged 65 years. For nearly forty years Mr. Coy had been a leading merchant of Newark and a prominent businessman, dealing in landed property.
The death of John A. Yeigh occurred at Oswego April 9, 1887, aged nearly 70. Mr. Yeigh was a native of Canada, and came to the Untied States when quite young. Nearly forty years ago he lived in Newark. Being unmarried and of a migratory disposition he was much of our country, traveling quite extensively in California and the far south and west. He was a soldier in the War with Mexico.
Dwight Curtis was born in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, March 15, 1822. He came to Illinois in 1855 and has lived in Kendall County ever since. He was an enterprising and capable citizen. His death occurred April 16, 1887. Henry Haigh, son of Daniel Haigh, of Bristol, was born in England September 8, 1837. He was a member of the old 36th Regiment Illinois Volunteers. He had lived in Kendall County some forty years, and died at Franklin Tennessee, June 6, 1887.
John H. Nichols, of Bristol Township, was born July 24, 1742 in Dutchess County, New York. He came to Kendall County
in 1854, and since then has lived in various places, but mostly in Kendall County. At the time of his death, April
28, 1887, his residence was in Bristol Township.
To the above named we have appended the names of those who came to Kendall County in an early day, but had removed to other parts of the country, and died since the past annual meeting.
Francis Asbury Emmons came upon life’s ever changing scenes at Long Branch, New Jersey, August 28, 1810. In the fall of 1837, he came west, along with his family, and settled in the village of Bristol, where they lived three years. He then bought a farm three miles above Bristol, on the Oswego Road, and remained there until 1872, when after having reared a large family, Mr. and Mrs. Emmons, and their youngest daughter, removed to Aurora, where their home has been since then, although the property interests in Kendall County were retained. Mr. Emmons passed to the better land October 31, 1887. He was joined by his former companion, Lydia Ann (Morris) Emmons, January 4, 1887.
Samuel A. Higginbotham died at Minooka, November 20, 1886. “Sammy” as he was known, was by birth an Englishman. He came from England in his youth, and for many years his home was almost anywhere in Kendall County, but recently he had lived at Minooka.
The remains of Maria S. Arnold, widow of Levi F. Arnold, who died November 12, 1886 were brought from Chicago to Oswego for burial. The Arnold family was prominent in the early history of Oswego. Mr. Arnold was the first postmaster of that village, and held the office from 1837 to 1845.
Died at What Cheer, Iowa, September 28, 1886, Adeline (Sloan) Brown, widow of the late Stephen W. Brown. Mr. and Mrs. Brown came from Erie, Pennsylvania in1844, and settled in Kendall Township.
The death of Mrs. Louisa (Stone) Hoagland occurred August 25, 1886. She, with her husband, Aaron Hoagland, came to Illinois among the early settlers and located at Big Rock, Illinois where he died fifteen years ago. Since then her home has been in Plano.
Joseph Weeks, of Sandwich, formerly an old settler of Little Rock Township, died at his home, January 23, 1887, aged 80 years. Mr. Weeks came to Rock Creek in 1834, from Gallatin County, Illinois, which was the place of his birth. He moved to Sandwich sometime in the 1850’s.
George Pew Hay, Sr. died at his residence in Sandwich, February 13, 1887, in the 83rd year of his age. Having finished his work he laid down life’s burdens, happy to depart.
Thus closes the list of mortality for the year just past. I am aware that it is quite incomplete and shall be only too glad to add and amend it if relatives and friends will furnish obituary notices that I have missed, with dates, etc.
Many correspondents are quite remiss in giving dates, often making the Secretary’s duties difficult. When the day of the week that the death occurred on, one can reckon back by the date of the paper. But when it is written as occurring “one day last week,” determining which day often requires some correspondence, to learn. Why not give the day of the month also. Many correspondents in reporting the death of married ladies write Mrs. John Smith, or Mrs. William Jones. With many women, dying is about the only real independent act they commit during their whole married life. Then let us give them the privilege of dying in their own individual names.
It is a long list. Some of our most worthy people are gone, but their memory is a blessed inheritance.
Following this came remarks by Honorable, Perry Armstrong, of Morris, Lewis Steward, of Plano, and Mrs. Galt, of Aurora, with interspersed remarks by that veteran of the old settlers, Smith G. Minkler.
Varying the exercises, Mr. Minkler called for a show of hands of those who came here previous to 1830, there were two who responded. Following this, there were three who acknowledge coming here in 1831; two in 1832; twelve in 1833; eight in 1834; twelve in 1835; none in 1836; twelve in 1837; thirteen in 1838; sixteen in 1839; and eight in 1840. Ninety-six people in all who had had come before 1841. It was not a perfect test, however, as there were more persons scattered about the grounds than there were in the amphitheater.
John A. Newell was elected President, and Milton E. Cornell was elected Secretary for the ensuing year.
Daniel Platt and Mrs. Platt came early and remained through the day. In the evening, at 6:40 they took the train for Ottawa to attend the Soldiers reunion. We saw them out riding in Ottawa Friday afternoon looking as fresh as young folks. As they came to Plattville in 1833, they are not very young in years, but have wonderful vitality.
Honorable, Thomas Finnie was warmly greeted by many old friends, and all were glad to see the sturdy farmer on the grounds.
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Judson drove down from Aurora, and they are as much interested in Kendall County as when they lived in Oswego.
Mr. Getty was out from Chicago, years ago, he lived in Oswego.
E. W. Trask, the well-known Aurora merchant, was on the grounds and met many friends. He drove down with R. W. Corbett.
We were glad to shake hands with Mr. John H. Gilman and his good wife Margaret M. (Jobes) Gilman. Uncle John is blind, and the wife sees for him. He looks well and is contented. There is no better man living than Uncle John, and he is very patient.
Uncle Billy Hiddleson from near Plano was also on the grounds. He was one of the earliest settlers, who made brick for our first brick houses. He is a good man who has lived among us for half a century, honored and respected by all who know him. We always get a good word from Uncle Billy, and it helps a fellow wonderfully to have such a friend.
Honorable, John S. Armstrong, of Sheridan, was at the picnic, and is one of our annual visitors. He is a pleasant companion, being well versed in the early history of the Fox River Valley, and can relate many interesting incidents of pioneer life.
Sim Brown and family from away out beyond Lisbon shook hands with many friends. They were accompanied by Mr. Haskett from Chautauqua County, New York.
Of course, Lott Scofield wanted to see his old neighbors, and he came down from Aurora. Big Grove was well represented, so he had a pleasant time.
Mrs. Joshua C. Goodale (Lida A. (Nolton) Goodale) and her mother (Mrs. Emma (Weyman) Nolton) from Aurora greeted old friends on the grounds.
It was good to see Marcus Oswald Southworth, the Aurora lawyer, escort his mother (Cornelia (Bowen) Southworth) among the old neighbors. Years ago they lived in the Millington neighborhood.
Frank Beebe came over from Plainfield to see his partner, Clay Willett, and take care that he did not take in too much of the festivities. He wanted him to get down to business again. Clay has fully recovered.
William Pearce was down from Oswego, He is one of the pioneers.
Samuel McCloud, from Seward Township, had an honored seat on the platform. He has seen his town grow from a wild prairie to one of the best agricultural regions in the county.
Mrs. Alanson K. Wheeler was very anxious to come, but the burden of years was upon her, and she sent “Shel.” (Sheldon
Hiram Wheeler) to represent her. She is 88 years of age. These good old mothers should receive honor and affection
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