This booklet provides a brief descriptive history of Marrowbone Township, in Moultrie County, Illinois, during the period 1828 - 1889. It also provides a fairly complete roster of Civil War veterans from this township. I have attempted to transcribe it as it was printed and have only added brief punctuation to facilitate the ease of reading. The (........) in the middle of a sentence or word indicates that that information is missing.
We dedicate this booklet to the memory of
"JAY" L. MITCHELL
Elizah Mitchell, father of "Jay" bought this booklet in 1889 from the author, Frank
Trainor, who was the first owner and publisher of THE BETHANY ECHO.
Mrs. J. L. Mitchell (nee Lola Bushert) and her daughter, Virginia, (Mrs. Don Bledsoe)
a teacher at Spencer School in Decatur, and a Bethany graduate, kindly loaned the
original copy for reproduction to the Bethany Area Centennial in 1977. She requests
that profits from its sale be used for the Bethany High School "wherever it would do the
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A Brief History of Marrowbone and Bethany
History of Marrowbone Town and the Village of Bethany
Thinking that a short history of our part of Moultrie county, and the village of Bethany would be interesting to the young and as well, revive the memories of a few remaining old veterans of the first settlement of the then wilds of what may constitutes the western part of Moultrie county. The writer of the following articles proposes to give a short sketch. In so doing he will write from a personal knowledge extending over a period of forty years. Prior to that time he will have the assistance of the actual observation of several old surviving participants of the early settlement and partakers of the hardships and privations endured by them. With the foregoing introduction the writer will now enter into the proposed history. Prior to the year 1843, that portion of Illinois now known as Moultrie county was a part of Shelby and Macon counties; the larger portion of the territory belonging to Shelby county. In the year 1841 the people of the northern part of Shelby and the south-eastern part of Macon presented a petition to the Legislature to take a portion of these two counties and form a new county to be called Okaw county. The act was passed by the Legislature with a proviso that it be submitted to a vote of Shelby county. Shelby voted no by a large majority, so the measure county were the moving, active originators of this measure. In the fall of 1842 another petition was presented to the Legislature for the formation of the new county embracing the now present territory of Moultrie county and a tier of sections off of the west side of Coles county. So much opposition was aroused that a compromise was made striking .......Coles county territory ........shape of Marrowbone township. In February 1843, .....was passed, but with another distasteful proviso attached. Macon county had incurred a large debt in building a court house and the new county was to pay her portion of the debt. Each county was to appoint one or more commissioners at the June term of court to proportion the amount of said debt that Moultrie county should pay. The law compelled the appointment of the commissioners but Moultrie county appointed men who they knew would never meet the commissioners appointed by Macon county. There was no law to compel them to meet and they never did, nor did Moultrie county ever pay any portion of that debt. The first election held for county officers was the first Monday in April 1843. The whole number of votes cast in the county was 313. The first board of county commissioners consisting of R. B. Ewing, A. H. Keller, and George Mitchell met at James Canfield's on the 10th day of April 1843. Uncle John A. Freeland had been elected clerk and recorder,
John Perryman, treasurer, and David Patterson, probate justice.
The first county order ever issued by Moultrie county was at this meeting; it was for one dollar to T. W. Short for a ledger; the second one, to John A. Freeland for services, one dollar and seventy cents. The first settlement with the county treasurer of Moultrie county there was found to be the following amount of funds: Jury Certificates $31.52; County Orders $19.50; Gold $26.62; Silver $164.00 1/2; Total $ 241.69 1/2; we find the whole amount of taxes collected for the year to be $158.62 including his commission, Wm. Thomason shall receive the sum of $30.00 for assessing the county. The first deed recorded in Moultrie county was made by James Mitchell to Calvin Freeman dated Feb. 2nd, 1842, for 40 acres of land; consideration $160.
The first license was issued on the 11th day of April, 1843 to David Strain and Susanna Ball. At this time there was no court house; no county seat; no record books. Uncle Johny Freeland carried the records in his hat.
Continuing the history of Marrowbone township, we will necessarily have to revert
to the first settlement of the county, and the character of the first settlers. The old
pioneers are fast sinking to rest after the toils and privations of border life, where they
came to build up homes amidst the beautiful scenery, while yet the whoop of the
savages and howl of the wolf was heard on every hand and war alarm came not
unfrequently in the stillness of the night. Here and there a white haired veteran
remains an interesting relic of the fading times, but they have left an impress of lofty
integrity and __alted courage, unabated energy, high social life that our historic pages
of record of where they were, and what they did, to ......... their country, what it is
today. To write the history of one of these old veterans is to write of all. Times
changes, and we change with the times. To the old settler whose life work is done,
whose thought dwell mainly on the past. There are no days like the old ones, no
songs like "Old Lang Sine." He marks the changes and like the poet he cries
"Backward turn, O Time, in thy flight". We will not undertake the hopeless task of
convincing them that with the changing years has come increasing happiness. We
feel with them to regret the absence of many of the virtues of those early days. Gone
is that free hearted hospitality; gone is that community of kindly feelings of neighbor
for neighbor; gone too, is that simple strong, upright, honest, integrity, that so marked
the character of the old pioneer. He feels as one forgotten so rapid has been the
improvements in machinery, progress in the arts, their application to the needs of
man, that a study of the manner of these old people of fifty years ago, seems like the
study of a remote age. While a majority of these old settlers were poor their poverty
carried no sense of degradation like that felt by our poor of today. Every man was a
king and every woman a queen. They lived in rude cabins, 'tis true, but it was their
palace, their own home and would compare favorably with ........ While they were
........ they had plenty to wear; ....est texture, some times .....it was good--mother and .... made it. The puncheon table loaded with the flesh of deer, ...., turkey, wild duck, prairie hen or squirrel and bread made of corn or wheat of their own raising, and grinding too. The whole country now dotted with ....iling farms and happy villages traversed by rail-road and telegraph ..... was then a vast wilderness ......fy prairie. The streams fringed with timber with here and there a grove. The settler came with his axe and rifle two indispensable articles. The first was his weapon to make his home, the second to defend that home against the savages and wild beasts and to secure his provisions. His house was made of rude logs, generally sixteen feet square, built without glass, nails, hinges or locks.
Thinking that some young reader may some time want to build a house the writer
will describe his first Illinois home. First large logs were placed on prairie donicks, for
sills 16 feet long, then a floor of hewn puncheons was laid. then built the walls out of
sound logs 10 logs high notching them down at the corners. Then two logs 20 feet
long put on ends so they would extend two feet on each side. On the ..ds of them
were poles to let the first tier of boards of roof rest against; the gables were built up by
shortening each log about two feet ...ting up a log lengthwise every ... for boards to
rest on. On center of top a pole finished the log structure. Boards three feet long
were laid on these poles and pole weights were laid on to hold the boards down. We
then chopped out a fire place eight feet wide and built a chimney with split slabs
notched down to about the height of your head. then drew in the width to abut
3x2 feet. Built with split pieces plastered in and out with mud; for fireplace we set up
boards and filled between them and outside slabs with dirt and mortar; put a slab on
each side of the fire for the 'kids' to sit on and study their lessons. This was our
school house. No glass was to be had, so we chopped a log out some three feet
from the floor on the side and pasted greased paper over the hole. That was the
window. We then chopped out a hole about three feet wide and six feet high, bored a
hole in two pieces at the end and pined on thin slabs of right width then bored two
holes in logs on one side and drove in two pieces with holes in the end. Through
these holes we put pins and our door was hung. Now we only needed a latch and
latch string, a hole and pin, then the house was made ready for daubing and chinking.
We used mud to daub the cracks. Now come inside and see the furniture. We
bored a hole in the logs at the place where the foot of the bed was wanted and at the
head we bored another hole, and had one upright piece with holes to correspond with
those in the wall and put in one long and one short pole. We had a bed with only one
leg. Our chairs were stools with two slab benches for sides. I can hardly describe
the table because I looked more at what was on it than how it was made. However,
it was a piece of same parlor set equally as strong. Now those were good old days.
The first settler in what now constitutes Moultrie county was John Whitley. He settled on Sec. 12, Town 12, Range 6 in Whitley township. Whitley Creek took its name from him. This was in the fall of 1826. He was a native of Maryland; none of his descendants now live in the county. Others followed. In 1828, there was a considerable settlement on Whitley Creek. The first settlement made in what is now Marrowbone township was made in the fall of 1828. The first settlers were Andrew Bone and Elias Kennedy; they came from Tennessee. Bone settled on Sec. 24 Town 14, Range 4, on farm where W. F. Vaughan now lives, and broke the first prairie ever broke in Marrowbone township. He left quite a large family; nearly everybody is akin to the Bones.
Elias Kennedy first settled on Sec. 35, Town 14, Range 4. He sold out to Wm.
Thomason in 1830 and settled on place owned by Uncle Robert Roney. In 1834 he
sold to a Mr. Fredrick and moved east of the Okaw. He again sold out to Reuben
Ewing, and settled near the mouth of Marrowbone Creek where he constructed a
small horse mill. He shortly afterwards bought out David Cochran who then owned
the place where M. M. Crowder now lives. He finally removed to Kansas, and died
there in the year 1871. His daughter Elizabeth was the first child born in Marrowbone
township. No other settlements were made until 1834. In that year there were a great
many new comers. James Fruit from Kentucky settled on Sec 26 where James
Hudson lived at time of his death. Fruit ....... settled the Peter Fors...... He was the
first physician in Marrowbone township; a good ........ useful in a new country and in
church. He died in 1845. He had one son, James Fruit, and one daughter, Aunt
Camilla Bone, who lives near Bethany at the present writing. In same year 1830
T....D. Lansden and G. Baxter came with their families from Tennessee. Baxter
shortly moved ........county, and Thos. D. Lansden settled near Andrew Bon's on old
Uncle George Mitchell's place. He afterwards moved to the Evan's place just west of
Bethany where he built the first blacksmith shop in the township. He was a noble
man, good and useful in his day and generation. Two of his daughters still live in
Bethany: Aunt Emiline Ashmore who by the way is the only living chartered member
of the Cumberland Presbyterian church in Bethany, organized in 1831 at the house of
James Fruit by Rev. David Foster. Her sister Aunt Eliza Mitchell wife of Samuel
Mitchell are the only two members of that family who live in Moultrie county. Jane
Lansden another sister married Thomas Sowell and lives in Sangamon county.
this was the first church organized in Moultrie county. The first Elders were Thos.
D. Lansden, Andrew Bone, George Mitchell, and Benjamin Syms. The first Sunday
school was organized in 1832 at the house of Andrew Bone by him and John Barber.
Old Uncle David Strain was superintendent, Andrew Bone, Thomas Lansden, James
Fruit, Elias Kennedy, and Larkin Beck were the teachers. And nobly
did they fill their places. One daughter only of Andrew Bone's family still lives. Narcissus Freeland, widow of Rev. James Freeland, who died at Sullivan, Ill. with a bright and promising future just before him, being a graduate of Cumberland university at Lebanon, Tenn.
John Warren and his brother-in-law Daniel Pound, moved from Tennessee in the fall of 1830. There are none of his large family now living in Moultrie county. The same fall old Uncle Jesse Walker moved on Brush Creek from Kentucky. William Thomason settled below the mouth of the Marrowbone Creek the same year buying out Elias Kennedy. William Salzman settled the farm now owned by F. B. Hagaman. John Cook came here from Rhode Island in 1830 and settled on Section 3, Town 13, Range 4 near Wilborn. He was quite a prominent figure in the formation of the county, and built the first water mill in the county. It was considered a grand thing in that day and age; Cook was an enterprising useful man. He died some years ago; his widow still lives near the old home and is doubtless the oldest person now living in Moultrie county. Larkin Beck also came about the same time, and settled on Sec. 28, Town 14, Range 4 where Dale Henneigh now lives. He was a representative of early pioneer life always taking a strong stand for what he considered right, and when once taken very difficult to change. He was a man of unusual intelligence and a good debator, you must know; measures deemed necessary by any one to the neighborhood were fully debated before acted upon.
The Wards, Allen Perryman, John and Edward Woolen, Samuel and Simeon Robinson, all came in 1831. A child of Edward Woolen's was the first death in Marrowbone township, April 21, 1830. Uin Kutch entered the east half of SE 1/4 of Sec. 23, where he died a short time ago, and where he made an honorable home and raised a large family. His widow now lives on the old home and is very old. Uin Kutch was a natural born frontiers-man, a man of strong convictions; he hated a wrong deed and was quick to condemn. He was a peculiar man, attended strictly to his own affairs, was considered the best hunter that ever lived in Moultrie county. It is said of him that he killed 18 deer the first three weeks he came here, one a day. David Strain, who married a Mitchell landed here with his family on the 12th day of October, 1831. He had raised a crop the year before and went back after his family. He settled on Sec. 21, the place where Joseph Deadman now lives. He purchased this place of Allen Perryman and lived there till his death in 1854. He was appointed the first Justice of the Peace in Marrowbone township for several years after he settled on this farm. Evidence could be seen of a battle between the Indians, their burying ground being on the eminence where the house now stands. Mr. Strain was a man of intelligence and enterprise; a true christian. The Pi..... Methodist preachers found a home with him and preached at his house.
John .... Strain, who now lives in Bethany, and one daughter Lydia Liv... now living
in Oregon are
the only two living members of his large family. John Strain built the first steam mill ever built in the county on Marrowbone creek. He hauled the works from Alton, Ill. with a team. This mill was quite an attraction. Uncle Johny being a man of excellent memory the writer has enjoyed many a pleasant hour hearing him recount the stirring events of early settlements. The first burial ground was on land of Andrew Bone's east of Bethany. I desire here to digress from history to say that the citizens of this community should see that those old grave yards be kept in better repair. The dust of some of the grandest, noblest men and women that ever lived in this country is contained in these almost forgotten cemeteries. They with others named and still to be named have left the impress of their character on this community more lasting and enduring than any marble monument. As was said of old "In those days there were mighty men in Israel," so of the men I write. I heard one of these old veterans today speaking of those early days, say, of all of those first settlers "he never knew of one that used liquor or swore an oath." Sabbath day was indeed a Sabbath, a day of rest.
Daniel Pea came in '31 and bought Thomas D. Lansden's farm in Sec. 24. He in turn sold to George Mitchell. George Mitchell was one of the first county commissioners and at the organization of the county he had a large family. There are still living here of his children, Samuel Mitchell in his 77th year, John B. Mitchell lives near the old homestead, and Wm. Mitchell near Dunn, and Aunt Jane Bone widow of Rev. Thos. Bone, Susan, wife of David Crowder. The first marriage in Marrowbone township was James O. Ward and Elizabeth Stark, in the summer of 1831. They were married by Wm. Thomason who was a Justice of the Peace.
James Roney came here from Kentucky in 1832 and settled on Wilborn Creek. His sons are all dead except Robert Roney who lives on the old Frederick place south of Bethany.
In the winter of 1830 occurred what has been know ever since, as the deep snow which prevailed throughout all the western territories. The snow commenced falling the first of December and continued almost without abatement throughout the winter. In the timber it was from five to six feet deep. Stumps can yet be seen where trees were cut down for firewood, six and seven feet high. Roads were completely blockaded fences and out houses entirely covered up in fact such a depth; virtually buried the settlers in their cabins and only went out as necessity demanded food and fuel. A large portion of the stock either perished by the cold or oftener by starvation, wild game deer prairie chickens etc. were found frozen in immense numbers.
Beverly Taylor, James and Sam'l Howell, Wm. Foster and Ezekiel Sharp were
among the early settlers. Taylor settled south of Bethany and his sons John and
Dock or B. F. are now residents of Bethany also one daughter widow of J. B.
Hudson. James Howell moved to Kansas and died there in 1867 several of his daughters live in and near Bethany. His widow old Aunt Lydia Howell lives near town. Sharp died soon after his arrival. His sons, Robert, James and Joseph live a few miles east of Bethany. John Harberson settled the old Uncle Robert Crowder place west of town. He came from Tennessee soon sold out and went back. Elisha Brison son-in-law of William Ward also settled on Marrowbone creek. Alfred Ashmore and his mother and the family were here very early. Alfred Ashmore entered the east half of the NE 1/4 of Sec. 22. All the north half of Bethany is built on this entry. He sold to Rev. A. M. Wilson, who married Rebecca Ashmore. Wilson built a large two story hewed log house on ground where Hal Logan's house now stands. This house from its size and build was considered the most noted house in the county. Only one of the old Ashmore family now living is Mrs. Ethalinda Scott, mother of A. R. Scott. She has just turned in her 83rd year. There were eight of the Ashmore girls; they were noted for their hospitality, social moral life and the great age they lived none dying under 80 years. Sarah married James Fruit noticed in the former article one of the pioneers. Rachael married Thomas McGuire, after his death she married William Knight was mother of the McGuire family, living in and near Bethany. Alfred built the third house in Bethany. It was part brick and part frame and is the property ..... Aunt Emeline Ashmore mention of whom is made in former article. She is still living and is 78 years old. There are some names of men who grew up here with the first settlement that must not be omitted; men of noble character and rare worth such as E. M. Lansden, father of the present sheriff of this county. John C. Bone who the writer regarded as among one of the best men he ever knew, kind, generous, a safe advisor. Jas. M. Bone in whose death this community suffered an irreparable loss, known and loved by all.
The Banksons, the Freelands, the Wards, the Walkers, the Mitchells, W. W. Smith, and many more true and tried men that live and have died here were true to the early teachings of their father and mother. The wise man said, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." is this not true? The writer has been a close observer of man and is thoroughly convinced that the character of the men the first settlers of a community or of a town form the character of the same, for following generations. These old veteran pioneers builded better than they knew.
Those old men were wise. When new man came in they weighed him for his
moral character and worth; pointed out to him if he was a desirable man the vacant
land, gave him the numbers and assisted him in every possible way to settle here.
If he was profane and drank liquor, he soon learned enough that he was not wanted
here, and such generally found homes elsewhere, where they could
In 1836 James Freeland landed on Freeland's Point with his family. He came from
North Carolina; his wife was Jane Strain an aunt of John A. Strain. The place he
settled was a part of Macon county. He had a large family among them John A.
Freeland, of Sullivan, who is known all over the county as Uncle Johny; 'tis said he
walked on his crutches from Tennessee when the country was almost a wilderness,
be this as it may, he has been a man endowed with an immense energy and
accumulated quite a property. He has suffered very heavy losses by the faithlessness
of pretended friends. Those he thought to be friends he has seen the accumulation of
years of toil go to pay other mens debts. He still lives in Sullivan the same old Uncle
Johny as of yore. Robt. Law was here among the first settlers, and he entered the
east half of the SE 1/4 of Sec. 22. The south half of Bethany is built on this entry; he
built quite a large horse mill. It stood on the north side of what is known as the C. P.
parsonage. Only a few years ago the posts could be seen where this mill stood. His
wife was a Lansden. He sold his land to David Mitchell. This entry was made in 1834.
In 1839 he sold it to Mitchell for $700 and moved near Decatur. Robert Crowder
came here in 1837 from Green Co., Tenn. He married Barbara Prater, she now lives
in Bethany and is in her 82 year. They have several sons living in Bethany, and on
farms near town, besides two that were killed in battle, Robert S. at Chickamauga and
Andrew at Vicksburg. Three others were in the service. They were very poor when
they settled here. Aunt Barbara was telling me several years ago of their early
hardships. She had only one vessel to milk in and hold the strained milk. She had
me guess how she managed, I failed; she said she stretched a cloth over the vessel
and thus strained the milk as she milked. They worked hard managed well and
before, he died was one of the heaviest tax payers in the county. Everything had to
move around Uncle Bobby; his sons inherited his push. Uncle Bobby and Aunt
Barbara have taken, and raised more orphans than any other two in the county. He
never raised a lazy idle one. I must now stop these personal references or these
articles may become weary to the reader. I would fail in my purpose in writing if I did
not write of some of the early hardships endured by those noble men and women
leaving their pleasant southern homes of plenty (for you will notice that nearly all
those, old pioneers were from Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina) coming out
in to a wide wilderness amid the savage red man, on the one hand and wild beast on
the other; no smiling .... to welcome them, the ringing .... of no lofty church tower
The vessels needed to cook were few; two pots, a skillet, a frying pan, and our oven to bake corn dodgers in. Now a corn dodger was good, easily made, mix up meal with warm water, work with their hands, pat the dough out in oblong rolls, place in the oven, which was set on live coals. Put on lid and cover it with coals. Soon you had bread to make the 'mouth water'. You eat it with butter and milk. We had no coffee. It seems to me we had better bread in those early days than we do now. It may be that I was hungry.
The early settlers while enduring all the privations attendant upon frontier life, were in constant fear of outbreaks from the Indians, who at this time inhabited the whole northwestern territory, and who looked with jealous eye upon the encroachments of the white settlers. Their attacks were generally made in the still hours of the night without any warning. Defenseless women and children found no sympathy. The savage war-whoop, the torch, the tomahawk, and scalping knife, closed out the settlers home.
In 1832 the noted warrior Blackhawk succeeded in arousing nearly all the tribes
in the Mississippi valley to make one united stroke and massacre all the whites west
The first road that was ever made from this neighborhood across the prairie to where Mt. Zion now is, was made by these returning soldiers, and was for many years known as the "old soldiers' trail". These soldiers stayed all night at the Mt. Zion settlement, and early in the morning they walked across the prairie in single file, through grass higher than their heads in many places, to old Uncle Andrew Bones' for breakfast; and then from there went up and down the Okaw timber to their different homes to meet the wives and children they had left, and to enjoy the peace and security won from the savage tribes. At this time no one had ventured out to make a home on the prairie, but all had made homes along the edges of timber.
One nice spring afternoon Uncle Sammy Mitchell, John C. Bone and a few others,
then young men, walked out on the prairie to an eminence, where John Bankson
afterward built his house, and sat down on a large rock to talk and look over the
country. Uncle Sam said he would not be surprised if it would some day be settled
"clear out there." John Bone replied that it might be, but "it would never happen in their
life-time." I mention this circumstance to show the then prevailing opinion in reference
to the possibility of these prairies ever being settled. They supposed that no man
could live on and improve forty acres of prairie land, unless he owned at least forty, if
not eighty, acres of timber. Now hundreds of the best farms can be found with not an
acre of timber - hedge for fence and coal for fuel has worked a revolution. Horses were
little used; oxen were mostly used in hauling rails and breaking land. When horses
were used, one man or boy rode the 'near' horse and drove - they had not yet
learned the use of check-lines. About this time Uncle Andy Bankson and old Uncle
George Thomason, both then young men, got hold of a pair of check lines and started
to drive down to Vandalia. They got along all right until they had to hitch up after a
stomp. They had forgot how to hitch the lines; after various failures one of them got
onto the 'near' horse and drove until they found a man who could buckle the
check-lines so they could drive
Another great drawback was the swarms of green-head flies that infested this country in early days - in the spring, summer and early fall. A horse could hardly live while crossing the prairie in day-time; travel had to be done in the night-time. These flies on account of their number, sounded like a swarm of bees; attacking both horse and rider, driving them to shelter in some log stable where the cracks had been filled with grass. They, too, have gone - unwept, but not forgotten.
Another fearful foe to be dreaded was the always-to-be-looked-for prairie fire - after frost in the fall. The grass grew very tall, and when the fire started - either by the Indians or some hunter - it came with a terrible roar, to be heard for miles; forty or fifty miles wide, with the blaze tree-top high, the swiftness of a horse, and driving before it deer, wolves, prairie chickens, wild geese, ducks, and other species of game. Man could stay the onslaught of the Savage, but this was irresistible. Stock perished in its terrible heat; hundreds of little cabins and small patches of grain were left in smoking ruins; the nights were lighted up as by the light of day, and woe to the emigrant who might be caught in its track.
In 1840 I saw drive up on an eminence a man with his family in two wagons, when one of these terrible fires was sweeping toward us. I saw no hope for them, as they all stood in terror looking at the oncoming wave of fire. At last the man ran to his wagon , took therefrom his flint-lock gun filled the pan with powder, kneeled down and flashed the powder in the grass, which caught fire and speedily burned beyond the teams. He then drove back on land burned off - saved.
Still another drawback that the early settler had to meet was what we called the
ague. Some of my older readers need no description - they have "been there;" they
were regular Illinois shakes, and a terror to all new-comers. In the fall season of the
year, like Vandakin's castorole, everybody took it. It was no respecter of persons -
everybody shook it. They all looked a pale yellow, as though they had been
frost-bitten. It was not contagious, but was a kind of free-for-everybody disease.
Ask a man how his family was; he would say "All well as common," when probably
six or eight were hovering over the fire, grunting and shaking. Then, again, it was
regular in its habits as to its beginning and ending, coming on each day or every other
day, with a regularity that was surprising. Then, after the shake, came the fever.
"This last state was worse than the first." It was a burning hot fever; one that lasted
for hours. When you had the chill you couldn't get warm, a hot fire wouldn't warm
you; when you had the fever you couldn't get cool - ice would not cool you. this
made it a very awkward thing to have. Another peculiarity was, it
Another obstacle in the settler's way was, they had no plows suitable for breaking prairie sod which was a great deal tougher then than after stock had been pastured on it for some years. In places the grass grew from six to ten feet high. It was these immense crops of grass that furnished fuel for the terrible prairie fires above spoken of. And again, there was so much of our prairie land that was considered too wet to ever be suitable for cultivation. Thousands of acres that now constitute some of the best farms in Moultrie county, in the highest state of cultivation and possessing the very richest soil, were condemned as swamp lands. The fact is, much of the land in Marrowbone township that is now considered dry was then so wet that, during the greater part of the year, was absolutely dangerous to ride over on horse-back, for fear of 'miring.'
Still another and greater draw-back in this section was the labor and cost of
fencing. At an early day the Supreme Court, entertaining the general but erroneous
idea that our extensive prairies would always remain commons, to be used for
pasturage only, reversed the common law idea and decreed that every man should
fence-out his neighbor's stock, instead of fencing his own in. Few were able to do
this, or to buy and improve as they otherwise would have done. Another consequence
growing out of this wrong, and retarded the early settler, was the fact that speculators,
and capitalists, from the east came out and entered up some of the best, largest and
most available tracts of land at $1.25 an acre, and then waited for the old settlers'
labor and toil to enhance the value of his investment, and in many cases entering out
the land some settler had improved. Had I the time and space I could relate many
amusing incidents of races between settlers