The Old Settlers Meet.
Annual Picnic on the Fair Grounds at Bristol.
A Grand and Happy Occasion.
A Social Time.
Originally Published in the Kendall County Record, September 23, 1880.
Edited and Compiled by Elmer Dickson.
The good Lord never favored His people with a more glorious day for an outdoor meeting than Thursday, September 16, 1880, the pioneers and their descendants met on the Fair Grounds and revived memories of old times by speeches, happy visiting and old-time singing. Everyone felt at home. We never met a more informal, social, easy going company anywhere. It was estimated that twelve to fifteen hundred people came together for the occasion.
It was feared that the meeting would be lightly attended because of the many things happening in the area to keep people away. But the “old settlers” were true to their traditions. They loved one another, and they wanted to reminisce about the old times. Just as soon as one entered the circle of people there was a feeling of home, a thankful spirit, and an impression that God had been good, and that Kendall County was just the nicest place on His earth.
Wealth was apparent as well. Handsome carriages, fine-stepping, blooded horses, rich attire, gold chains, gold watches, and there were provision enough to feed an army. Little Kendall supplies innumerable good things.
Before dinner, the gathering was called to order by Honorable Oliver C. Johnson, and the usual opening exercises took place. Reverends Andrew W. Chapman and W. H. Hoadley made sharp, happy speeches. The martial band played; what would the old and young settlers do without Smith Minkler and his big drum, Drum-Major Snell and his snare drum, and A. H. Litchfield with his shrill speaking fife.
Dinner was announced, and the crowd broke into groups for the meal that makes social beings only the more social.
A little after two o’clock the people gathered around the stand, and the Pavilion choir sang the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
The President then introduced Senator Samuel Lewis of Ottawa, who is one of the pioneer farmers of the west. He had come up by special invitation to meet some friends. Mr. Lewis commenced by saying that he had been introduced as a Senator, but such honors sat lightly on him, as he was a plain farmer who mad no pretensions to eloquence or learned speeches. He had come to this country when he was fifteen years of age, 48 years ago, and from a farmer’s boy who was on his own, he had made his way to the Senate of the great State of Illinois. The Senator then spoke of the early days, giving many amusing incidents. When finished, he sat down with the satisfaction of knowing he had pleased his audience. As Parks said, “If the old feller can farm as well as he can speak, common farmers must get out of his way.”
Then the choir sang that grand old hymn “Coronation.” Reverend Mr. Webster, an aged clergyman from Lisbon, spoke next, and made a very fine address. Then the choir sang “Home Again.”
Mr. Samuel McCarthy, of Aurora, spoke next, very briefly. He is one of the very first settlers in the Fox River valley, and is going to meet with us annually for the next fifty years, as he doesn’t age a bit.
Honorable, John S. Armstrong of Sheridan closed the speech making by a neat little address. He is a man always gladly welcomed by the people of Kendall County.
Another song was followed by the election of officers for the coming year. Honorable, George M. Hollenback was elected President; Honorable Lewis Steward, Vice President; and Smith G. Minkler, was elected Secretary and Treasurer.
It was voted to hold a picnic next year and to have a big one.
Who were there?
Mr. Editor, your reporter wishes to suggest for next year, that the Society provide a well-bound book, pens and ink, and ask the old settlers present to write their names and the date of their coming to Illinois in the book, and that each subsequent year the names of those not previously present be signed. Then you would have an autograph album worthy of a place in the fire-proof vaults of he county’s courthouse.
It was exceedingly difficult to get the names of those present Thursday, and we give only those we jotted down from personal acquaintance, or upon the suggestion of some friend. If any are neglected, don’t lay it on the printer; he did the best he could.
The Albee family from near Aurora, who meet with us so seldom.
Uncle Martin Boomer, who is 80 years of age, and walks to and from town as spritely as though he was a young man.
Darwin Bradley, of Aurora, who used to be a resident of Oswego.
Lorenzo D. Brady, Mayor of Aurora, who began business here years ago in Little Rock village.
David Brown, who is early ninety years old, came from his home in Big Grove Township, and returned home in the evening, without being exhausted.
Isaac Newton Brown, the only representative from Grundy County.
Simeon “Sim” Brown.
Mr. James Smith Cornell and his wife Marion Polly (Howe) Cornell, who were among the earliest to settle here.
John W. Gallup, an old pioneer of Little Rock Township.
Robert Douglas Gates, Sr. and his wife, Hannah Elizabeth “Anna” (Avery) Gates.
David P. Gillam.
John Gillam and wife.
Goodman Halverson (a well named man.)
Oliver Havenhill, the member of a large and well-known family.
Gilbert “Denslow” Henning.
Mrs. William T. Henning, Marinda (Brown) Henning, represented herself and her husband, who is in Nebraska.
George M. Hollenback and wife.
Samuel Dunbar Humiston enjoyed the scene.
Uncle Samuel Inscho.
Mr. Lewis Brinsley Judson, now of Aurora, but so long a resident of Oswego, was on hand to greet old acquaintances.
Reverend S. P. Keyes, God bless him, who we heard preach in the old Clark Street Methodist church when we were a boy, who still looks as young now as then.
Lyman Lane and wife, Nancy (Hart) Lane who came in 1836, who are over 80 years of age, and as spry as ever.
Otis Latham from Plano attended, but I don’t know if he was an old settler or not, but he is a good settler anyway.
John T. Litsey, Sr., and wife, Mary Jane (Claggett) Litsey.
Almerin Loucks and wife Mrs. Henrietta (Emmons) Loucks, who have a very large circle of friends among the early comers were there.
Walter Loucks and wife Lavangy “Angie” (Gray) Loucks, of Oswego.
Waldo Warren Marsh and wife, Rhoda Allen (Stillwell) Marsh.
Deacon West W. Matlock and his good wife, Lavina (Trumbo) Matlock, with a large a large family connection, was out among the very first comers to the county.
Samuel McCarthy, of Aurora, who built the first flouring mill up that way.
Nathan Carr Mighell.
Smith G. Minkler and his wife, Sarah Ann (Burton) Minkler.
Lewis Morgan and wife Almira B. Morgan, without whom Pavilion would be lost.
Asahel G. Newton and his wife Sylvia A. (Patrick) Newton from Oswego.
Aunt Polly Noble, who is 70 years of age, was as spruce as a young damsel of twenty, graced the grounds.
L. O. O’Brien, who came in 1845, was there with his family.
Ansel Reed, who came here 53 years ago in 1827 (to Illinois, but not Kendall County,)
L. F. Reed, from Oswego.
Lewis Rickard and his wife, Catherine (Loucks) Rickard, who are well known for old-time hospitality.
Gabriel Seely “Gabe” Roe.
Lott Scofield and his wife Hannah A. (Kirkland) Scofield.
Edmund S. Seely and his wife Jane Gilliland (McLain) Seely, from NaAuSay.
Mrs. Eliza Seely, from Earlville, widow of the late David Seely, of Bristol. She is now 77 years of age, and lived here when the Kendall County Record first started.
Francis S. “Frank” Seely and family.
Mrs. Millicent (Tuthill) Seely, widow of the late Dr. Townsend Seely, who is approaching four score and ten. Her eyes are as bright as those of a matron of forty.
David Harvey Shonts of Plano.
The Honorable, Lewis Steward, our “Lew” enjoys such occasions, more than any other man there.
Walter W. Van Emmon and wife, Elizabeth (Hay) Van Emmon.
Mrs. Alanson K. Wheeler, of NaAuSay Township, whose sons and daughters are among our foremost people, honored the occasion.
Uncle John W. Wheeler and wife, Catherine (Shibley) Wheeler from near Plano.
Sheldon and Rollin Wheeler of NaAuSay.
Napoleon Bonapart Young.
Mrs.Hannah Watson, formerly Mrs. Lutyens, who knew Newark in its palmiest days when the stage-horns rang loudly, and good dinners were provided to the passengers.
It was at this point that time and the picnic gave out, and we have no more names, but there were hundreds which should be recorded, and if you will furnish that list in a book next year the Record will print them all.
It was a glorious time. A thankful time, and we close with the good old doxology. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
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