Pulaski County

1883 History

Part IV — The History of Pulaski County



ONE of the leading citizens of the county was George Cloud, the first County Surveyor. Another was David Moore. Among the early Sheriffs was Mr. Perry, an engineer on the river for a long time.

In a letter from John Dougharty (no relation of Gov. Dougherty) to Capt. Riddle? dated America, October 12, 1824, occurs the following:

"This place (America) becomes more dull every day; we are about to lose what few inhabitants there are in this county, and if we should lose the whole of them it would be of little consequence, as the majority of them are of no advantage to any county. Many families are going out and gone to the South and "West, making about one-fourth of the whole; and those better informed on the subject than myself calculate on as many more in their room. May heaven send those of a better quality! I will have to turn to farming or will have to look somewhere else for a living than off this miserable population."

Commenting on this rather gloomy letter of Dougherty's, the Rev. Olmstead says: "Heaven, alas! did not answer the prayer of John Dougherty. The emigrants met no immigrants; every sail set to catch the breeze was southward bound. "

Another letter from John Cloud to James Riddle, of Cincinnati, is dated America, December, 1827: "I am glad to have the opportunity of informing you that Mr. Skiles and Mr. Whipper safely landed their boat at thin town on Wednesday last. The same evening Mr. Skiles came to my house and I told him the situation of your lands. The next morning he went to Trinity to converse with friend Webb. He will write you the substance of this conversation. They have opened a store in this place in a house known by the name of Allord's House, which I rented to them as agent of the Brownsville Bank. They will live with me. Believing them to be gentlemen, I shall use the utmost of ray endeavors to promote their interests, as well as the interests of this place. After a cruel scene of inebriation, which commonly causes drowsiness, this deserted place may awaken to that meridian of day that we may live to see and rejoice at."

But no effort could arrest the decay and dry rot that had fixed upon the drowsy young metropolis, and, as told elsewhere, it perished from the face of the earth.

The writers of these letters from which we have given the above extracts, together with David Moore, first Sheriff, James Berry and William Wilson, merchants, are buried at the town of America. Capt. Riddle, Col. Justus Post and John Skiles are buried at Caledonia. The reduction of the army at the close of the war of 1812 had changed the occupation of Col. George Cloud, Col. Justus Post, Col. E. B. Clemson and H. L. Webb, and was the cause of each of these rather remarkable men of their day coming to Southern Illinois and engaging in the avocations of agriculture and city building.

In the Cairo Argus of July, 1876, Reverend E. B. Olmstead, of Pulaski County, says: "Each principal settlement had its school. Of course, at that early day, they were subscription schools; but in the year 1825, the Legislature appropriated money to pay one-half the salary of teachers. A man named Mclntyre taught in a log schoolhouse north of the Clavin place, to which scholars went from Caledonia, and among them the children of Capt. Riddle; and from near Cache River, among whom was H. M. Smith, om* present State's Attorney, the former having to walk three miles, the latter six miles. There were no patent seats, no blackboards, no series of school books; under such difficulties were the foundations o an education laid in former days. Another of the early teachers was William Hazard, at Caledonia.

"About 1830, the price of wheat was from 20 to 60 cents per bushel; corn, 20 to 25 cents; bacon from 3" to 5 cents per pound; harvesters, 75 cents a day; binders, 50 cents; and common laborers, 30 cents per day.

"As slavery was prohibited in the Northwest Territory, a system of apprenticeship was adopted. The slaves of the original settlers might be held ninety years, but their children were to be free at eighteen and twenty-one years of age, but many living in Illinois on the Mississippi River held their slaves absolutely, as citizens of Missouri, and crossed them over once a week to preserve a legal title; in this way George Hacker held forty slaves.

"No young lady," he says, in speaking of the good old times, "played on the piano, but she could bring music out of the spinning wheel. Her pull-back was a pull at the loom. The young women planted their own cotton, cultivated it, picked and ginned it, spun and colored and wove it, and made dresses without consulting Madam Demorest or Harper's Bazaar, and without a sewing machine, and when the young man came around on the gay young horse, with a new saddle and a broad breast girth, "to see the boys," he would look approvingly on the striped and cross-barred superfluous and extra dresses, and other feminine gear hung like banners on the inner wall, the very proofs and evidence of industry and skill and genius. The girls of that period were strong and healthy, and no one of them was ever known to faint under any provocation whatever. They could sing treble, and some of them could have, perhaps, sung bass. They knew nothing of falsetto, but could bring the cows home in that key if they were half a mile away. The young men did not aspire to become teachers or drummers, or try to make a fortune on a capital of $4 in chromos, or to bang doors and slash around generally as brakemen on a railroad train.

Settlements will never be made again in this country under similar circumstances. Never again will there be so much danger and inconvenience and patient waiting for coming improvements. The modern new settlement is the goddess Minerva, fully armed, leaping from the head of Jupiter, and the Vulcan whose glittering ax opens the head is the machinist's, who builds that wonderful complication men call a locomotive. There is much difference in the condition of things between the Atherton colony (one of the earliest in Pulaski) and the Greeley colony as there is between history and fiction.

In speaking of the birds of the early day, Mr. Olmstead says: " The mocking bird of the South made his first visits [here] during the war," etc. This is a mistake evidently. The writer well remembers seeing them in abundance as far north as St. Clair County as early as 1840. Mr. Olmstead is probably misled by the fact that many were brought north by returning soldiers, and many soldiers made quite an industry of catching them and bringing them to Illinois to sell. The Carolina parrots or paroquets, in the early days, were common and numerous all over Illinois, as far north, at least, as is now the main line of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad. Two varieties of birds unknown to the early settlers, the wax, or cherry bird, so called from the wax-like tips on the end of the wings and for their fondness for cherries, and the bee bird, is another outcrop of modern life. Mr. Olmstead says: "We welcome the mocking bird as a full compensation for our bee bird and cherry bird. He builds his nests in the orchards and around our homes. He is many in one. With a voice as mellow as a flute and as harsh as the call of a guinea fowl, he imitates all the birds of the wood, and is the only songster that gives us nightly serenades. We have all the birds common to the Northwest, from the unclean buzzard down to the delicate humming bird; and truly the former bird, though a scavenger and unseemly when near at hand, rises in our estimation as he ascends into the heavens. No bird that spreads a wing can lie as he does upon the air without beating it, and we see him sweep in such majestic circles so high above the earth, we could wish he never would return to it again; we would fain forget that he is only snuffing, like a corrupt politician, for a more tainted atmosphere. The humming bird, when stripped of his feathers, is little larger than a bumble bee. Starting from the orange groves of Florida, he pauses at the open portal of every flower, extracting honey or insects, as his taste inclines. To each degree of latitude as high as the great lakes, and even to Hudson's Bay, he introduces summer; but in all his migrations he never fails to exhibit before oui' admiring eyes his ruby throat and golden shield,"

Of the Black Hawk warriors of Pulaski County, the same authority says: "In 1832, the celebrated Indian chief, Black Hawk, made war on the settlements in the northern part of the State. Promptly a company was raised in our county by Col. Webb, which went to the scene of action. Of that company none are alive but the Captain, Thomas C. Kenedy, John Carnes and Alfred Lackey.

"The war with Mexico occurred in 1846. A company was raised immediately by Col. C. H. Webb and William A. Hughes. The former was elected Captain and the latter First Lieutenant. This company consisted of 105 men, the noblest and best of our citizens. They were in but one engagement, etc. * * * By changes and promotions, the company was officered thus on the day of battle (Buena Vista): Captain, William C. Woodward; First Lieutenant, John Bartleson; Second Lieutenant, Aaron Atherton; Third Lieutenant, William Price. On that eventful day, Col. Bissell, riding up to where the Pulaski company was posted, said to Lieut. Price: 'You are too old to go into this engagement; you will remain in camp.' The old man, nearly eighty years of age, standing proudly erect, said: 'Col. Bissell, I came here to fight. If my time has come, I just want to die for my country on this battlefield.' As the company went into action, Lieut. Atherton, observing that Capt. Woodward had only a Sergeant's short sword, gave his to the Captain, saying, 'You can take this; I know better how to use a gun!' The last that Metcalf, afterward Lieutenant, saw of Atherton, he was defending his prostrate friend, Price. As he had often swung his cradle, so his heavy rifle went in circles, wielded by his powerful arm, and many a Mexican went down before him. The sword of Atherton, so faithfully used by Capt. Woodward, and gashed on Mexican lances, is in the possession of the Atherton family. Of the 105 men who went so gayly to Mexico, only forty-two returned. Sixteen were killed in the battle of Buena Vista, including every officer, from the Captain down to the Second Sergeant, and of the forty-two, fourteen only now remain (1876). Among these are Joseph Evans, E. A. Philips, Lieut. William Pate, Capt. A. P. Corder, A. C. Bartleson, Edward Bartleson, James H. Metcalf, R. J. Johnson, G. P. Garner, Reuben Vaughan and John Abbott. Among those who fell on the field were Capt. Woodward, First Lieut. John Bartleson, Second Lieut. Aaron Atherton, Third Lieut. William Price, Orderly Sergeant William J. Fayssoux, private J. W. Kiger, H. Dirk, George Crippen and Joseph Emmerson. On their return in 1847, these men were welcomed with demonstrations of joy at a public gathering, when speeches were made and a poem read by J. Y. Clemson, of which we extract a couple of stanzas, showing that while we had brave men, we had poets to sing their praises:

"We lost some noble men that day —
Men that were stamped in nature's mould;
For fame and country those they fell,
Not for the sordid love of gold.

"Conspicuous on that fatal day
Was a small band from Illinois,
Foremost they were in all the fray.
The gallant, brave Pulaski boys."

The occasion and the home-like sentiment and truth the poet expresses are a sufficient apology for any seeming tripping there may chance to be in the verse, that at that time found a hearty response in every heart.

In the Adjutant General's office at Springfield, we find the following very imperfect roster of this company. Like nearly all the rolls of the Mexican war soldiers, it is not only wretchedly imperfect, but the company is credited as the " place of enrollment, Alton, Ill.," because there was where they were mustered, and no residence of the companies are given. This is an outrage by the State upon the memories of those brave sons of Illinois, and the State should by all means remedy the records, at least to that extent that it could be done now by those who yet survive. If neglected a few years, the wrong will be irreparable, and the very children of these men will remain in ignorance of their illustrious sires. The writer has had occasion to write the war record of several different companies that were in the Mexican war, and invariably in talking with these old veterans in regard to their company, he has found the Adjutant's books almost wholly unreliable. For the State to longer neglect this would be a flagrant injustice to the whole people.

Col. Foreman, the only surviving Illinois Colonel of that war, is now an old man, residing in Vandalia, Ill. It would be a labor of love — and he is eminently fitted for the work — to go into each county that sent a company or companies to that war, and perfect the roster of each company, give the correct residence of each man, and fill out a complete history of every man that Illinois sent to that war. The band of surviving Mexican war soldiers have not been any too handsomely remembered by their country. No pension steals have gone into their pockets, and we know of no more appropriate act the State Legislature could do than to commission Col. Forman to do this work.

From the records in the Adjutant General's office we give the following as all that appears of Company B, Second Regiment Illinois Volunteers:

Captain, Anderson P. Corder; First Lieutenant, John W. Rigby: Second Lieutenant, William W. Tate and James M. Gaunt; Sergeants, Watho F. Hargus, Abraham S. Latta, Calvin Brown and John Delaney; Corporals. John L. Barber, Robert E. Hall, James Cuppin, and James H. Gorrell, Musicians, Andrew I. Ring: Privates, John Abbott, William C. Anglin, Edwin BartleSon, Augustus Bartleson, Abner Baccus, Welbourn Boren, John Barnett, Henry Burkhart, William Crippin, Robert Cole, Jiles M. Cole, John Curry, Marion M. Davis, Henry Doebaker, Joseph Evans, iller Echols, Daniel Emerick, Charles Goodall, John Goodwin, Joseph B. Hornback, William Hughes, James M. Hale, Reason I. Johnson, William Johnson, Elisha Ladd, James L. Loudon, Thomas E. Loudon, Pleasant Lefler, Patrick H. McGee, James H. Metcalf, Enos A. Phillips, George Purdy, Framnel Parker, John B. Russell, Pinkney Russell, John Russell, David Renfrew, Jonathan Story, Columbus C. Smith, Calvin L. Scott, Jackson Summerville, Elijah Shepherd, Cyrus Stephens, James Thorp, Andrew J. Tiner, William E. Tiner, Isham L. Tiner, Thomas Thompson, Reuben Vaugh, John White, William Whitaker, H. A. Young, died; Alfred Bakston, March 21, at Saltillo; Thomas James, March 4, at same place; Enoch Kelso, at Loracco, time not known. Discharged, Private John Kitchell, on Surgeon's certificate, March 20; Abraham S. Latta, on detached service, hospital, September 29; James H. Gorrell, absent, sick at Laracco, from August 11; William C. Anglin, taken prisoner at Buena Vista; also at same time and place John Curry and Joseph Evans. Wounded in this battle, Charles Goodall, absent, sick at Loracco, from August 11; Calvin L. Scott, Elijah Shepherd, and William Whitaker. Taken prisoner at Buena Vista, James Thorp.

The company was discharged from service at Camargo June 18, 1847.

In the late unfortunate civil war, Pulaski County, like all the counties of Southern Illinois, was the first to enlist and the first and foremost in the battles of the country.

Capt. William M. Boren raised Company K, of the One Hundred and Ninth Regiment of which we have given the account in the Union County history in this volume. Capt. Rigby's company was attached to the Thirty-first Regiment. This was John A. Logan's regiment, and it was formed entirely of Southern Illinois men. There were many other enlistments Id the county in various regiments and in the naval service.

But of the three counties. Union, Alexander and Pulaski, the first, in the matter of turning out fighters in the late war, was in the lead. In fact. Union County is entitled to be considered the banner county of the State, either in war or in voting for General Jackson straight at every election.

In the biographical department of this work will be found an extended sketch of the life of J. Y. Clemson, whose fruit farm, near Caledonia, deserves especial mention. This is the finest fruit farm on the Ohio River and it produces pears, strawberries, peaches and small berries of all kinds that we much question if in either of these it can be equaled in the world. The fame of the fruits grown upon Mr. Clemson's farm is now all over the West and South, both for the size of the fruit and the exquisite delicacy of flavor. This farm is protected fi-om the frosts by the river and ^the hills, as is much of Pulaski County, and a failure of crops has never occurred since the settlement of this part of the county in 1817. Mr. Clemson has demonstrated that much of Pulaski County possesses great advantages over almost any other spot on the globe for horticultural purposes. That the yield per acre is extraordinary, the quality and flavor perfect, and there never occurs a failure of crops. In fact, at times when a killing frost had visited nearly all portions of the country, this locality in the county has escaped untouched. It is only of very late years that this has become to be known of those heretofore despised lands of Pulaski County — the barrens. They were supposed to be nearly worthless, whereas the truth is they are by far the most valuable lands in the State, and it is the opinion of competent judges that in a few years they will develop wonders in both agriculture and horticulture.

Visit Our Neighbors
Union Johnson
Alexander Massac

Ballard KY
Search the Archives