OLD SETTLERS' DAY
The Pioneers Meet at the Park and Talk Over Old Times Originally published in the Decatur Weekly Republican, on Thursday, 3 Sep 1889
Originally published in the Decatur Weekly Republican, on Thursday, 3 Sep 1889
Addresses by Rev. Bankson and Elder Northcutt - Names of Early Settlers
Old settlers' picnics are always interesting, and the present year witnesses today at Oakland park, the most interesting reunion of the pioneers of Macon county that has yet been held. There was a very large attendance and it is doubtful if there were ever more grayheads collected in the county. There were a few hours devoted to a comparison of notes as to the time at which the handshaker came to the county. One remembered the deep snow that fell a year or two after he came, but there were only a few of them. A few could recall the sudden freeze, which froze geese fast in the mud, and there were other reminiscences of an equally interesting character.
But the time for the formal exercises came on and the large assembly was called to order by the president, Dr. E.W. Moore, and after music by the Light Guard Band, Rev. A.D. Northcutt offered prayer and Rev. N.M. Baker - a native of the county, born in 1837, who lives on the same farm on which he was born - proceeded to deliver a most interesting address, dealing largely in recollections of the early day, some of them very laughable. He held up the lamp by the light of which he ground the lenses for the telescope he had himself constructed. He held up, also, an ancient sickle, and explained how the grain was harvested. The address was very entertaining, and was listened to with great interest.
Rev. A.D. Northcutt was then introduced, and proceeded to deliver a most excellent address, describing the mode of living, the sort of houses, the sports and pastimes, the religious meetings, the dress and habit of the pioneers. Mr. Northcutt is a most charming speaker especially at an old settlers' reunion.
The welcome announcement of dinner was made, and the old settlers and the younger ones scattered themselves about the part and enjoyed such a feast as only the old settlers know how to spread. There was no attemp at anything fine of stylish, but an abundance of good and wholesome food, and it was seasoned by the hearty good will and cheerful conversation of the olden time. As we go to press short speeches of the pioneers are going on.
Abraham Eyman, born in St. Clair county in 1803, is the oldest settler on the ground. He says he only knows one older native of the state, and he only beats him by a few months.
Oliver L. Stuart, one of the oldest natives of the county, was born on the spot now occupied by the store of C.L. Griswold, and in all probability played in his infant years upon the ground now occupied by the Republican office.
Hiram Ward, of Wheatland township, and Rev. N.M. Baker, of Long Creek, both born in 1837, are now living on the same farms upon which they were born.
The president of the reunion, Dr. E.W. Moore, is not only a native of Illinois, but the son of a native, his father having been born in the territory of Illinois in 1783.
After the dinner, which consumed nearly two hours, the pioneers gathered around the platform to listen to the short speeches delivered by the old settlers.
John Wilson was the first speaker, and he recalled the incidents of the past and spoke freely of the near approach of the inevitable end.
Abraham Eyman, the oldest settler on the ground, who was born in St. Clair county in 1803, spoke a few minutes. Said he was married in 1826 and lived with the same woman yet. He came to this county in 1856.
C.H. Garver came in 1839, and when he came rattlesnakes and wolves were plenty. He told of going to mill and staying over night and then having to furnish the power to grind his grist. He enhibited a hank of "home spun" made by his wife long ago.
E.O. Smith, of San Jose, Cal., was next introduced, and spoke of how glad he was to see his old friends. In his home county in California, there were sixteen of the old pioneers of this county still living there. He referred to his first syndicate ever formed in Macon county, of which J.J. Peddecord and himself were members. "Jas" furnished all the money he had - about $40 - and he put in the muscle, and they built a mill to grind corn. There were a good many anecdotes related, some of them very laughable. One of them was of the whiskey turning to water, which the speaker could not explain - probably "Jas" could.
William C. Smith told of having come in 1828, and of the deep snow of 1830, described the sort of boots they had for getting through the snow and of the corn dodgers baked in the ashes. He said they were good and wholesome and spoke of their medicinal properties.
John A. Draper said he was born in the county in 1828, on Stevens creek, and lived at the "old trading house" on the river, and he had been here all his life, except a few years spent in California where he went with E.O. Smith. He had married in this county and raised six boys, and as he was a widower now he felt a little nervous about giving his age away.
Hon. W.T. Morrett spoke of the meager educational, advantages enjoyed by the pioneers, but was proud that he had been born in Illinois - in Sangamon county, of which county this was then a part.
Fred Neintker was introduced as the oldest German settler in the county. He came here in 1843, with old Philo Hale. He related a funny anecdote of going to Stonington to mill and having to swim Mosquito creek.
Jesse Lockhard mourned over the degeneracy of the times, and that whicky cost twice as much as it used to.
David Martin spoke of the difference in the price of lime, and said his son used a great deal of gravel to make walks with, and that our gravel is the best in the country.
Hiram Ward spoke briefly of the fact that he was born on the farm on which he now resides, and had never lived anywhere else and had never been away from it ten days at a time.
John S. Kizer spoke of the mail facilities of the present day, so different from those of 45 years ago, when he carried the mail between Decatur and Springfield.
J.R. Gorin moved that hereafter the reunions be held on the fourth Tuesday of August, and it was carried.
Dr. E.W. Moore was re-elected president, in spite of his protest, and the reunion was at an end.
The following is the register of those present:
|John A. Myers||IL||1837||1837||1837|
|James W. Myers||IL||1841||1841||1841|
|Henry D.M. Hodge||IL||1837||1837||1837|
|James A. Wilson||IL||1835||1835||1835|
|A_f C. Willard||KY||1828||1831||1855|
|William E. Nelson||TN||1824||1857||1857|
|Clara E. Ward||VA||1843||1850||1850|
|John M. Moffett||IL||1836||1836||1840|
|Landy H. Martin||IL||1858||1858||1858|
|Thomas S. Kiser||OH||1831||1837||1850|
|Sarah E. Florey||OH||1838||1856||1856|
|Mrs. E.E. Pugh||KY||1814||1828||1831|
|James L. Peake||D.C.||1830||1838||1853|
|John W. Hartley||IN||1827||1840||1849|
|Nancy A. Hartley||KY||1831||.||.|
|Ira B. Curtis||OH||1823||1835||1844|
|Mary E. Martin||IL||1839||1839||1839|
|Lucy A. Jones||IL||18_||.||.|
|Mary E. Eichinger||KY||1848||.||1853|
|Alfred S. Bailey||VA||1833||1851||1854|
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