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1882 History - Chapter 8

[Page 67] ...

The settlement of Greenville Precinct dates back to the days of forts and block-houses. Says a pioneer of the town: "Wyatt STUBBLEFIELD, George DAVIDSON and the KIRKPATRICKS all came prior to the war of 1812, and when the war came on they left through fear of the Indians, but when peace was declared, they returned to their former settlements." Thomas WHITE and William ROBINSON came into the precinct in 1816. They lived on year in Lind-

[Page 68] ley's Fort, and in the fall of 1817 settled one and a half miles from where Greenville now stands. William S. WAIT and his brother settled a little east of the present village of Ripley (just over the line in what is now Ripley Precinct), in 1820-21. They went back East in a short time, but in a few years returned and settled permanently. William S. WAIT was so long prominently known in the county, that a few words of him are not out of place in this connection, although he is extensively mentioned in the railroad history. He will be remembered as an early friend and supporter of the Mississippi & Atlantic Railroad, now the famous Vandalia Line. He wrote many articles in the Illinois papers, the St. Louis Republican, New York Evening Post, the New York Tribune, and other prominent newspapers, in earnest support of the enterprise. He was a constant worker for the road, from 1847, the time of the first agitation of the question, to 1865, and a large portion of his time was spent in procuring the charter, right of way, stock, attending meetings in its interest, etc., and in discharging the duties of the different offices, viz., President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, which he successively held in the company. He was a thorough student, an investigator of all new subjects and theories, and a voluminous writer on political, educational, agricultural and reformatory questions, and always took the side of progress and improvement. A regular contributor to the press, and in constant communication with m any of the leading minds of the United States, he was fully familiar with all topics of interest, and versed in all questions pertaining to the public good.

Mr. WAIT was Chairman of the National Industrial Convention, held in New York in October, 1845, and delivered an able address. He was nominated for Vice President of the United States, on the ticket with Hon. Gerritt SMITH (on National Reform Ticket) in 1848, but respectfully declined the exalted position. He wrote numerous newspaper articles, and able letters on the Constitution of Illinois adopted in 1848, and many portions of which were from his pen. In county and State agricultural societies he took an active interest, and was a zealous friend to the public schools; an active and valuable citizen, honored and admired by the people of the country at large.

Joseph LINDLEY built the first house in the forks of the creek southwest of Greenville in 1817, and was the first white settler in that locality. Hezekiah ARCHER settled just below him soon after, and in 1818 - 19, the HUNTERs settled in the same neighborhood. John PICKETT settled six miles west of Greenville about the same time as the HUNTERs. George NELSON in 1819 settled one mile east of Pickett. Samuel WHITE settled in the neighborhood very early, and Thomas LONG in the vicinity of Stubblefield. Mrs. MORSE, in a letter to Rev. Mr. HYNES, says:

"One of the early settlers was Mr. Seth BLANCHARD, who arrived in 1820. He came out from New York expecting to settle in St. Louis, but, disgusted with the Frenchy look of that place, bought land of Mr. Wyatt STUBBLEFIELD, east of town, and opened a store and tavern in town, just laid out by Green P. RICE. Samuel G. BLANCHARD assisted in laying off the public square. The principle families there were the KIRKPATRICKs, Messrs. CAMP, GOSS, LEONARD, RUTHERFORD, FERGUESON, WHITE, old Father ELAM, the BIRGEs, and Drs. DRAKE, NEWHALL, and PERRINE." Andrew MOODY was an early settler, and occupied a place originally settled by Thomas KIRKPATRICK, about one mile southwest of Greenville. The famous spring at this place took its name from Mr. MOODY, and was known far and wide as "Moody's Spring", a famous place for holding religious meetings, and the site of the first church built in Bond County. William PERRINE and J. B. DRAKE might be termed early settlers, though they were young men and single when they came here. They boarded at Richard WHITE's

[Page 69] two and a half miles west of Greenville, and were physicians.

It is not possible, however, at the present day, to give the names of all the early settlers in as large a district as the precinct of Greenville is, as at present laid off. ... The Rev. Thomas W. HYNES, in a historical address on Bond County, delivered July 4, 1876, says:

"We look back from our present position to ...”

As the community increased in wealth and importance, the people enlarged the facilities for living more comfortably, and with less toil and privation. Mills were built, and roads leading to them were laid out. Probably the first mills in the precinct were those of Wyatt STUBBLEFIELD and BECK, erected prior to 1825. STUBBLEFIELD's stood a little northwest of Greenville, on Shoal Creek, near where the Hillsboro road now crosses. A notice of BECK's will be found in the history of Greenville. STUBBLEFIELD's was constructed for sawing as well as for grinding and was a great convenience to the neighborhood. The WAITs built an ox-mill very early. The power was received from a "tread-wheel" - that is, a large inclined wheel, trod by oxen, was used, which, when put in motion, operated the machinery of the mill. They added a distillery, and for several years

[Page 70] carried on both distillery and mill. Samuel WHITE started a tan-yard at the spring west of Greenville in 1820, where he manufactured leather for the purpose of contributing to the "understanding" of the community. Thomas LONG put up a cotton gin the same year, near where STUBBLEFIELD now stands. The cultivation of cotton having been attempted by the early settlers, led Mr. LONG to that enterprise, but cotton growing in Southern Illinois proved a failure, and gins turned out to be poor investments.

It is a characteristic of the human race to be easily duped, and it has been said that the American people are more easily humbugged than any other race of beings below the sun. The settlers in this section of the country were no exception, and when reports were circulated that gold and silver ore was hidden in the Shoal Creek bluffs and ravines, the most intense excitement prevailed in every home. People spent days and weeks in search of the precious metals, roaming through the swamps of Shoal Creek bottom, digging in the hills, and scratching in the sands of the ravines, filling their pockets with glittering rocks, and accumulating stuff that in the end proved utterly worthless. A silver mine was once supposed to be found on Samuel HUNTER's place by a man named GAYLOR. HUNTER lived on Indian Creek, four miles from Greenville. A close investigation showed that neither gold nor silver were native in that region, but that GAYLOR was a good-sized fraud. He was arrested for an attempt to swindle, but finally succeeded in making his escape from the country. This put a damper upon the idea of digging out fabulous wealth from the creek hills, and had a tendency to shake the confidence of some of the wiser heads, but the excitement continued quite a time before the people settled down quietly again to their every-day duties.

The first physicians in Greenville Precinct were Drs. PERRINE and DRAKE, already referred to, and practiced the healing art for some time among the pioneers. Malarial diseases prevailed in the first settling of the country, some years to a fearful extent, and before the coming of PERRINE and DRAKE, the people of this section had to go to Edwardsville for a physician. Although doctors were often actually needed when their services could not be obtained, yet many people sent for them for the simplest cases. ... Dr. NEWHALL was also an early physician in this neighborhood. These early practitioners, however, are more particularly mentioned in a preceding chapter.

Schools were established and schoolhouses were built as soon as the population of the precinct would permit. Just where, when and by whom the first school was taught outside of the town of Greenville we cannot say. The early education of the surrounding country centered in the town, and the first schools were taught there, and will be alluded to more fully in the chapters on Greenville. There is now, in the precinct outside of town, some half a dozen or

[Page 71] more excellent schoolhouses, where good schools are taught, and the rising generation can be educated "without money and without price", an advantage not possessed by their ancestors.

Two small villages are located in the precinct, in addition to the city of Greenville, viz., Smithboro and Stublefield. Smithboro, or Henderson Station, was laid out by H. H. SMITH in 1870, and is on the Vandalia Railroad, about three miles from Greenville. It is called Henderson Station, but the post office is named Smithboro, and was established in 1871, with H. H SMITH as Postmaster. There is a grain elevator operated by HOFFMAN & HINKLE, who ordinarily ship a large quantity of wheat. A cheese factory or creamery was started in 1879. H. H. SMITH was the first President of the Company. The establishment is doing an extensive business, and makes up the mild of about five hundred cows. A store is kept by T. L. MINER, the only one in the place. The Jacksonville & Southeastern Railroad is laid out through this village, and, when built, will add considerably to its importance.

Stubblefield is merely a station on the Vandalia Railroad, about four miles west of Greenville. It consists of but half a dozen or so of houses, a water tank of the railroad, and a shipping place for farm products.

A place was laid out, probably about 1840, some three or four miles northwest of Greenville, on the Hillsboro road, called Elizabeth City. “This famous city,” says Mr. WHITE, “was to occupy ground little better than a frog pond, and yet five plats of it were made and sent back East on which appeared in high-sounding names, its streets, avenues and squares. Flaming notices of it were published in the newspapers, in which it was represented as being eligibly situated on ‘Shoal River,’ and in the midst of a country which, with comparatively little labor, could be transformed into an earthly paradise.” These flattering representations, or more properly speaking, misrepresentations, led many persons in the older settled States to invest in this “city on paper,” all of whom, it is needless to ssay, were “taken in,” as Elizabeth City never had any existence other than fancy plats and flaming advertisements.

The first churches organized in Bond were in Greenville Precinct, by the Methodists and Presbyterians, and are fully noticed in a preceding chapter. There are now, so far as we are able to learn, three churches in the precinct, outside of the city of Greenville, viz.: Methodist, Baptist and Cumberland Presbyterian. The Methodists and Presbyterians are about four miles west of Greenville, and are but a short distance from each oter, while the Baptist stands near Stubblefield.

The Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, one of those mentioned above, is a very old church, and is believed to have been originally organized some time about 1820. William HUNTER states that when he came here in 1821, the society was then in existence. The families forming it were those of Allen CONNER, Aquilla SUGGS, Richard WHITE, John HUNTER, Samuel HUNTER, McHenry NESBIT, etc. The first minister was Rev. Samuel THOMPSON; Rev. Jess HALE also preached here, and Rev. Joshua RAINES. The society met at private residences at first. Allen CONNOR was a zealous Methodist, and his house was long used as a place of worship, and a home of the preachers, who frequently stayed with him a month at a time, and preached as often on week days as on Sundays. The name of the society was finally decided as "Sinai", and they met in a schoolhouse which was dedicated to worship. The present society is called the "Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church", and was formed from the Mt. Horeb and Sinai societies as early as 1825. The church was built in the Centennial year of Methodism, and is thirty-four by forty-six feet - a frame building, costing $2,300. The present minister is Rev. J. H. McGRIFF. The Trustees

[Page 72] are Wesley WHITE, W. B. SIBERT, W. C. NELSON, James C. CAUSAY, John WARD, John W. PLANT and William HUNTER; has about sixty members. A Sunday school was organized early, of which Allen CONNER was first Superintendent; CONNER was also the first class-leader; the next, John, and then Samuel HUNTER.

Mount Gilead Cumberland Presbyterian Church was formed, or the society from which it originated, was formed about 1850-21. Among the first members were James JOHNSON, John EDWARDS, James HUNTER, Thomas HUNTER and their families, Mrs. Mary NELSON, etc. - about a dozen in all. The church was organized by Rev. Joel KNIGHT, and among the first preachers were Rev. John BERRY, David FOSTER and G. P. RICE. Soon after the formation of this society, the members joined together and built a log church. Some years afterward, a frame house was built. The present church was built in 1860, and cost about $1,500. There are at present about sixty members. The first Elders were James JOHNSON and Thomas HUNTER; the present Elders are Macklin HUNTER, William KING and Alvin JACKSON; Trustees, Robert MACKEY and Larkin JACKSON. Sunday school has been in existence nearly ever since the organization of the church, and now averages about fifty children in regular attendance.

The Smith's Grove Baptist Church was organized less than twenty years ago. Prior to this organization, however, there was a society formed, perhaps as far back as 1828, and was under the ministrations of Elders John CROUCH and James LONG. They put up a large log building, which was used both as church and schoolhouse, and was located but a short distance form the present church. The society prospered for that early day, but dissensions finally sprang up, which injured its usefulness, and it after awhile became extinct. Through te instrumentality of the ladies of the old society, a new church was organized with the following members: Henry HARRIS and wife, John J. SMITH and wife, John LEVERTON and wife, James HARRIS and wife, John HAGIN and wife, Monroe DITCH and wife, and Mrs. HILLARD. The church was organized July 23, 1869. Elder F. M. LONG was chosen Pastor, and John J. SMITH, Clerk. They decided the church should be called “Smith’s Grove Church,” to belong to the Apple Creek association. Elder W. C. HARVEY is the present minister, and J. M. HARRIS, Clerk. The church is a fram building and cost about $2,000. Preaching every two weeks.

This comprises the history, so far as we have been able to obtain it, of Greenville Precinct, and with its conclusion we end the chapter, leaving the history of Greenville to be treated of in a new chapter, by Mr. Williamson PLANT, from whose pen we have no doubt that it will receive justice, and all the importance it merits.

Transcribed by Norma Hass from the History of Bond and Montgomery Counties Illinois, published in 1882, Part I, pages 67-72.

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