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1936 Economic and Social History

Social History to 1850
The Family

It was a day when both economic need and social approval favored the family group. In 1830 only two white persons in the whole county lived alone, both young bachelors between the ages of twenty and thirty.(1) Sons generally stayed under the family roof until they married and daughters were as a matter of course provided a home through life if they were unlucky enough not to find husbands. The caring for the aged was apparently accepted as a duty. The census of 1830 showed nearly all aged persons to be living with younger people, presumably their children.(2) Family solidarity extended farther than the group which lived together. When a son married, the father often tried to make some provision for him without waiting for his own death.(3) Sons and daughters often settled near their old homes for both sentimental and economic reasons.

A marked tendency in land entries all through the period was the acquisition of neighboring lands by members of family groups. In 1817 near the center of the county, Richard, Isaac, and Thomas White bought quarter sections near one another, while at about the same time ten quarter sections close together were 1bought by John, Thomas, and James Kirkpatrick.(4) From 1837 to 1852, John, Stephen, Jacob, Gabriel, Thomas, James, William, and Francis Jett bought 1470 acres.(5) It is little wonder that part of Fork Prairie is still known as "Jett Prairie." At the same on the other side of East Fork, William, Daniel, and Jesse Grigg were laying the foundations of the Grigg settlement near Woburn by extensive purchases of choice scattered "forties" and eighties."(6) In the far north seven Whites together entered 960 acres in Bond County between 1819 and l8SO,(7) and a cluster of houses across the line in Montgomery County is still known locally 1as "White Town." In the west the Johnsons and Hunters did likewise, while in the 1840's the various sons of Henry File added another thousand acres to their large holdings.(8) Farther north the five sons of Robert McCord and the four Vollentine brothers built up huge landed estates.(9) These figures take no account of purchases of privately owned land nor of the married women who settled near their families. Suffice it to say that there were then in Bond county, as there still are, large groups of people related to one another and having a certain clannish pride.

The families of the period were very large by modern standards. It was not a day of childless marriages. In 1830, 43 families out of a total of 527 consisted of two persons each.(10) Children were not an economic burden for long as they began work when very young, nor were they a great deal of trouble In that day of single "growing up." William Bigeford Vollentine had twenty-three children, most of whom reared families. His cousin, Benjamin Johnson "raised" twelve children.(11) One man writes, "I was the youngest of eleven children. All married and had families."(12) One pioneer lady who bad twelve children lived to boast of forty-seven grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren.(13) Elder Peter Long at his death had twelve children living, all married with families of their own.(14) The descendants of Henry File and his seven sons have filled a large family cemetery. The following analysis of the 1830 census of the county shows that large family groups were common. One must remember that early marriages of the older children constantly reduced these groups.

Families Size Families Size
3 1 58 8
43 2 45 9
60 3 29 10
62 4 13 11
74 5 11 12
66 6 2 13
59 7 2 14

The average for the county was above six persons per family group. Over 60 per cent of the 3182 white persons were twenty years of age or less.(15) In 1840, 3111 persons out of 5060 were of that age group, a little over 61 per cent.(16) Conditions did not change greatly by 1850. In that year 1076 families totaled 6136 persons, nearly six for each.(17) These figures point to a society where large families were the rule and show a rapidly expanding native population. Despite continued emigration there are today large blocks of people with the same surnames who are hardly able to reckon their degree of kinship.

Single blessedness was not regarded very highly in that day, and few seem to have remained long in that state. The harshness of the life and the bearing of numerous children made for an especially high mortality rate among women. A large number of men were married two or three times. John Henry Taylor outlived three wives and then married a widow with children of her own.(18) Benjamin 3ohnson, twice a widower, married his brother's widow, and one of his nephews also was married three times.(19) A farmer north of Mulberry Grove hardly middle-aged, lost his second wife in the cholera epidemic in 1850.(20) John Bigeford Vollentine, already mentioned as the father of twenty-three children, had three wives.(21) A Greenville resident lost two wives, both very young; a third wife died after bearing him several children; and he Soon married a fourth.(22) One man even remarried after the death of a wife with whom he had lived for fifty years.(23) Economic reasons, in that day of large families, may have bad much to do with society's sanction of remarriage in short order.

The bonds of matrimony, once entered into, were not lightly broken. From 1817 to 1850, twenty-four divorces were granted in Bond County, eleven being to men and fourteen to women.(24) In four other cases men sued for divorce and in eight others women, one man and three women being "repeaters." In other words, only thirty-one couples over a period of thirty-four years attempted legally to break their matrimonial ties. The wives were invariably charged with adultery; the husbands with adultery or with desertion. In nearly every case where a divorce was not granted, the plaintiff, usually a woman, lost by default or else appeared to ask leave to drop the case. In one case a wife refused to go ahead with her case even though conditions were such that her husband was later indicted for bastardy.(25) Toward the end of the period a speeding up of cases where adultery was charged is noticeable. In a case of 1848, the sheriff served a writ in the morning of a court day. The wife was ordered to appear at two o'clock on the same day. She refused to appear and the divorce was granted in the afternoon.(26) However, in general for the period, it would seem that divorce was not looked upon as a very satisfactory or acceptable way out of matrimonial difficulties.

A marked sense of chivalry by judges and juries is shown in many divorce decrees granted. Most of the deserters had left the county, but where a man was judged at fault and had wherewithal to pay within the county, he was assessed rather heavily. When Rutherford, the hat maker, was found 'guilty as charged," a decree was handed down giving the children to the wife and assessing an alimony of $266.66.(27) In another case a husband was assessed one hundred dollars and costs.(28) A wife suing in 1840 was granted " all property acquired after desertion, since March 12, l830."(29) Even when the husband won the decree, the court occasionally gave the wife something. In one such case an alimony of one cent was granted and a dower of $150.(30) In another instance, even though the wife did not appear, the court decided "to hear the evidence" and then proceeded to grant alimony although the husband got his divorce.(31) In every case where the court granted a divorce to a woman, she was given custody of the children and the costs of the case were assessed to the husband. An Interesting suit where the court attempted to render essential justice was one initiated in 1848. First the husband and then the wife sued for divorce in that year, each withdrawing his suit. Then in 1850 the husband sued and the wife filed a cross bill. The jury found for the wife and granted her twenty-five do11ars alimony each six months as long as she was unmarried. In 1852, as the result of another suit, the children were transferred to the husband and the alimony reduced.(32) A general tendency of the period was to give the wife every possible advantage, except toward the last when adultery was apparently looked upon with new horror. At any tine during this period erring husbands could expect to pay for their philandering.

Community Life, Recreation, and Amusements

Work on the farm filled long hours with hard labor, yet there were always regular and, seasonal opportunities for those social contacts craved by people who live apart from others. Church services had social as well as religious appeal. Sunday morning gave each neighborhood an opportunity for its own gathering in an atmosphere of leisure and good fellowship. The "protracted meeting" held each winter also had its social appeal and, no doubt, drew people as a sort of entertainment. The yearly camp meeting had the same advantages, but everything was on a large scale; acquaintances and distant neighbors might be seen for the first time in a year. The religious side of these various services will be discussed later, but their social aspect must not be overlooked.

Something of the same kind can be said regarding the occasional trip to the nearest village, not so necessary in earlier days, but absolutely so as buying habits changed. These trips allowed chance meetings of neighbors and provided ample opportunity for feminine chatter and masculine discussions of the weather, crops, politics, and government policy. The masculine conversation was often lubricated by a visit to the tavern, especially in early days. Enforced waits at the grist mill gave men a chance to fish, swim, and converse.(33) The smithy also furnished a place for loafing while the smith was shoeing horses, repairing a wagon, or the like. If one lived near a village one could on rainy or cold days go to the village loafing place, probably the store, and whittle while listening to the village oracles.(34) If one lived near Mulberry Grove, Greenville, or Pocahontas he could occasionally watch the stage roll in, the well-dressed strangers get out and walk stiffly into the "stage house," the stage hands care for the horses, and the storekeeper "change" the mail, or perchance crowd into the group about the picturesque driver.

Trips to the county seat, frequent or occasional, depending on the distance, were a great treat for the whole family. If the court were in session, entertainment for much of the day was provided. If not, there were the stores and smithies to visit. The men could in early days top off the trip by a visit to one of the taverns and in later days by a more or less surreptitious call at one of the illegal dram shops.(35) Muster days in early times were devoted to noisy hilarity,(36) as were the annual elections held in Greenville.(37) A prim Yankee lady arrived in Greenville from Connecticut on 3uly 4, 1840. She thus describes the scene, "The men were having a great time drinking and fighting. They had little respect for themselves or others."(38) Special occasions were celebrated to the full. The sending of the county's contingent of eighty-five men to the Mexican war on June 19, 1846 was such an instance. One account dwells upon the fine sermon preached to the boys, the martial music of the Greenville band, and the giant meal furnished at a nearby farm.(39) A different account goes into the details as to the hilarity of the send off, helped by the barbecue of a whole beef and by pails of free whiskey passed around and ladled out with a dipper by a huge negro.(40)

Much more sober and sane were the neighborhood affairs created by certain types of farm work. The wheat harvest was often so arranged that all the men of a neighborhood worked together, taking the fields of grain in the order of their ripening.(41) Threshing either by the old methods or by the "ground hog" often required help outside the family group. Other farm work was "swapped" occasionally. In the early fall hogs and sometimes beeves were butchered and divided among members of a "circle" so that all had fresh meat for a time. The different members of the group took turns supplying the animal butchered.(42) When winter came, the big butcherings occurred. A large labor supply was needed and work was again traded between neighbors. House raisings, barn raisings, corn huskings, etc., combined labor and social activity.(43)

Oftentimes the social element of these occasions was added to by plays or a country dance given at night.(44) Old and young people would not infrequently Join in singing well-known songs. Every wedding gave an opportunity for a "chivaree" with its "Jerusalem fiddle" and other bedlam-producing instruments.(45) Courting or "sparking" occupied many spare evenings in the lives of unmarried swains and "their girls."(46) Wild young fellows and even their elders occasionally "went on a spree." During the forties many young fellows learned of the sinful pleasures of the gaming table, as shall be discussed later. Sunday afternoons were well utilized by all in visiting friends and neighbors. The women as well as the men had their own particular social pleasures. At the neighborhood gatherings they fed their men folk and often held quilting parties, sewing "bees," and other activities which allowed them opportunity to wield needle and tongue at the same time. The Pocahontas women had a Ladies' Sewing Society about 1850. It met on specified afternoons at one home or another and made articles of clothing, etc., to sell for the society's philanthropic fund.(47) Women, though they had plenty of work to do, were not always so definitely tied down on certain jobs as the men and so were able oftener to visit their neighbors, at least for short chats.

The sports of that day were few and simple. Wrestling, jumping, shooting, racing, and even fighting "fist and skull," were popular.(48) Hunting was perhaps the one greatest sport all during the period. Kentucky squirrel rifles, shot guns, and hounds were prized possessions. A wolf hunt on horseback occurred as late as 1842, starting with a circle eight miles in diameter, Unfortunately, the wolves did not understand that they were to stay within the circle and only one was killed.(49) Shooting matches for turkeys, geese, or other prizes were often held, or a neighborhood bunt with rival teams was staged.(50) Fishing was a quiet and not unprofitable recreation in that day, and swimming seems to have always been popular.(51)

Growth of Population

The population of Bond County increased very gradually after the first spectacular rush. By 1820 there were 2931 persons within the county limits,(52) but these figures included the people of several townships soon lost by the rearranging of county lines. By 1830 there were 3184 people within the present bounds of the county.(53) That number had by 1840 grown to 5O6O,(54) showing that the land buying boom of that period was accompanied by much actual settlement. The next decade brought a much slower growth, the census of 1850 numbering 6144 persons.(55) The reported number of dwellings in that year was eleven hundred.(56) The growth at first glance seems very slow. There was no industrial development to promote the rise of towns, nor had the railroad boom affected the county. Nine-tenths of the people were rural and agricultural.(57) Manufacturing bad not flourished and no large artisan group had grown up, but the increasing agricultural prosperity and the attendant commercial growth were reflected in the growth of the three towns already mentioned. A few villages had died a natural death because of economic unsoundness and poor location. But other hamlets, sometimes surveyed as town developments, but often not, housed small laboring and commercial groups. Each usually contained a blacksmith shop, a church, a school, and a few dwellings, often a store, and sometimes a sawmill, grist mill, or distillery. Usually, one or more farm establishments lay nearby. These settlements served a useful economic and social function in the lives of the people, although they contained a minor part of the county's total population.

Greenville had in 1830, besides the courthouse and jail, a hotel and log stable, a store, two taverns, a tanyard, three frame residences, one brick residence, and a dozen or more log cabins. East and south of the public square there was nothing but brush and trees.(58) By 1840 the population had increased to nearly three hundred, and the center of population and business soon after moved east to the public square.(59) In 1843 there were four stores, two smithies, a new hotel, a doctor's office and a lawyer's office. Nearly all of the dwellings by that time were irame.(60) The census of 1850 reports 378 persons in the town.(61) The growth had been very slow, but an impetus had been gained which enabled it to forge ahead rapidly during the next decade.

Pocahontas or Amity, laid out as a town in 1838, had 126 inhabitants in 1850.(62) A description of the village as it was in the early fifties mentions a hotel and stable, a store, a church, a school, two doctors' officers, and a "fourth of a mile" of frame buildings along the National Road. No blacksmith shop is mentioned, though there was probably one nearby. A combined sawmill and grist mill utilized the water power of Shoal Creek two miles to the north.(63) Mulberry Grove or Houston enjoyed nearly the same rate of growth. By 1850 there were eighty-four people in the village.(64)

Local Government

The "justices' court" of the county in charge while Illinois was a territory was in its essential features retained when Illinois became a state. The name of the group was changed and the offices became elective, but the function of the "Bond County Commissioners' Court" which met at Perryville on July 5, 1819 was not greatly different from that of the earlier court.(65) The law of 1819 defined the duties of county courts as largely administrative ones. However, the powers granted were rather broad, including county taxation, licensing, charge of all roads, canals, and bridges within county borders, except where state law applied, and "jurisdiction in all cases where the matter or thing brought before the said court relates to the public concerns of the county, collectively, and all county government."(66)

The term of office was not specified by the law, but the practice in Bond County became to elect members for three years, one going out of office annually.(67) Other officers, including notaries public, recorders, and probate judges, were appointed by the state government, while the clerkships for the county commissioners' and circuit courts, often held by the same man, were filled by appointment of their respective courts.(68)

It would seem that county government as provided for by the state was not overly democratic. The people had a voice in selecting very few officials. The creation of appointive offices gave local politicians ample opportunity for patronage. For example, Martin Jones, state senator from Bond County in 1819 succeeded in tabling the appointment of Daniel Converse for county recorder, although he later permitted him to become a justice of the peace.(69) Such conditions were evidently unpopular throughout the state, for its second constitution changed the plan radically. The "County Court" which met in January 1850, was little altered except as to name, but the county treasurer, county clerk, and other officials were elected henceforth by the people.(70)

Lesser officers whose duties were more local in nature were also largely appointive, especially at first. Constables were during the early years named by the county commissioners' court(71) and justices of the peace by the state legislature, chosen at least partially from recommendations of the county ommissioners.(72) In 1827, however, the county commissioners' court, to conform with a new law, divided the county into districts for the election of these officials and at the same time appointed three election judges for each district.(73) The creation of road districts and the appointment of supervisors rested with the county court. Overseers of the poor, whose duties were to farm out the poor(74) and to apprentice poor children,(75) were named for each township in like manner, beginning in 1818.(76) These officials seem never to have had very many occasions to perform their duties. Beginning in 1820, a trustee of school lands was appointed by the county clerk for each township(77) and the following year the number was increased to three for each township.(78) A school commissioner for the county, specifically in charge of the sale of school lands, was appointed first in l835.(79)

The jurisdiction of the justices of the peace extended over civil cases where no large amount was involved and rather indefinitely over certain minor criminal offences.(sic) In 1819 fourteen justices of the peace for Bond County were nominated by the governor and approved by the Senate,(81) but there is little evidence to show an extensive use of the justice courts during the early years. Despite the case of appeal, only a few cases from the justices' dockets were referred to each circuit court before 1830.(82) However, after 1830 an increasing number of such appeals appeared. In the September term of the circuit court of 1840 there were twenty appeals from justices' decisions.(83) Circuit court sessions were held twice a year, in March and September. Some trouble in getting men to appear who had been appointed to grand and "traverse" (petit) juries occurred in the early days, probably because of bad roads and distance, and several light fines were assessed.(84) Occasionally a juryman was excused for good cause.(85) But after the county seat became centrally located, there were very few cases of absence with or without leave.

The boundaries of the early election districts which had been created for the convenience of distant voters, were changed at the will of the county court.(86) An election judge appointed by the court went on election day to each such precinct with a poll book.(87) Clerks of election were likewise appointed.(88) Apparently a disproportionately large part of the county voted at Greenville even after the increase in the number of elective local officers in 1827.(89) The voters of one "precinct" petitioned in 1828 that the district be abolished and that they be allowed to vote in Greenville. The county court granted their request.(90) Considerable laxity as to where one voted seems to have been permitted. A writer speaking of the forties says, ". . . . People could vote anywhere in the county, for the judges took it for granted that we would vote but once.(9l) Yet during the period only one case of "voting twice" reached the courts, and in that instance the indictment was quashed.(92)

The sheriff was the agent for the collection of taxes during the entire period. The total county taxes assessed in the year 1818 was $279.50. This tax was raised by a poll tax of one dollar per male adult, and a tax of one dollar for each slave over sixteen and fifty cents for each horse over three years of age.(93) The following year a tax of one-half per cent was levied on the value of horses, cattle, carriages, money, watches, and clocks, and stock in trade.(94) At that time each person had to "declare" his own taxable property. Town lots, distilleries, and slaves were added to the list in l821.(95) By 1827 the list included town lots, Negroes, stock in trade, sheep, and hogs. The county rate of one-half per cent value was maintained.(96) In the thirties the county court began appointing an assessor "for each range."(97) The tax list was gradually extended to include most real and personal property. The county rate was lowered by 1841 to one-fifth of 1 per cent.(98) The total tax collected in that year was $923.87, of which $350 was for the state.(99) License fees, tines, etc., helped swell the total. The county also benefited from time to time in the forties from money donated as a result of the "internal improvements law."(100) The local government was in general prosperous despite the continual repairs for, and the rebuilding of, the courthouse. The salaries of officials were very low and partially paid by fees. During the forties a regular agent was appointed ". . . . for the loaning of money for this county. (101) The county tax rate was reduced to fifteen cents per hundred dollars in 1843,(102) but after that increased until in 1848 it was forty cents.(103)

The tenure of office for both elective and appointive offices was short during the first years of the county's history, perhaps due to the cross currents of Illinois politics of the time. The only exceptions were certain members of the county commissioners' court who sometimes managed to be re-elected. But in 1823, John Gilmore, who had been the appointed sheriff in 1817, secured the newly-created office of probate judge, a position he held until 1837. The same post was held by John F. Draper from 1839 to 1852. During the thirties a small clique of Democratic politicians came into office and stayed there for many years.

Sloss McAdems was sheriff and county collector from 1830 to 1846. Peter Hubbard was county treasurer from 1836 to 1845. James Bradford became county clerk and circuit clerk in 1836 and held both offices for ten years. Benjamin Johnson served as school commissioner from 1835 to 1839 and county superintendent of schools from 1839 to 1844.(104) Several judges of the county court also served two and three terms apiece during the thirties and forties.(105) There were, no doubt, certain little emoluments and rewards to pass around. For instance, Sloss McAdans, the sheriff and collector, in June 1840, received $250 as ". . . . agent for the county to move the jail from the public square to lot 29.(106)

However, there is no faintest hint of scandal concerning graft or corruption in relation to any member or this "ring." In default or evidence to the contrary, we may surmise that these men were clever politicians, efficient enough to get by and holding down jobs that no one else wanted very badly.

Crime and Its Control

As in most pioneer communities, the early society of Bond County was addicted to violent methods of settling quarrels, placing more faith in personal valor than in the law with its delays. The early court records are therefore full of cases of "A. B." (assault and battery) and "on affray." Every session of the circuit court had a few such suits, one session of 1822 having as many as nine, three of which were combined with trespass,(107) and a session of 1824 had eight "A.B." cases and two "on af fray."(108) In 1820 the locally famous Indian fighter, Tom Higgins, was sued by a man for one thousand dollars. The plaintiff charged that Higgins had spit in his face, that he had ", , , . with great force and violence seized and laid hold of the said Frederick Phelps his nose and greatly squeezed and pulled the same, that he tore out divers large quantities of hair . . . .," that he beat him violently with a stick, that he knocked him down and kicked him, and that in the end ". . . . he did bite and tear off from the head of the said Frederick one of the ears . . . ." The case was settled out of court.(109)

Juries generally showed much leniency in such cases, A verdict of "not guilty" was often arrived at, while "five dollars and costs" was the usual fine,(110) The highest fine assessed before 1830 was that of twenty dollars in 1824.(111) Physical assault was not confined to men. There were a number of trials of women on such charges. In one case three sisters and another girl were accused of "an assault with fists, feet, and clubs" on a fifth woman.(112) In another instance, a woman was accused of a similar attack upon a man.(113) In both cases, as in most others the women defendants were declared "not guilty." In a case of 1827, however, a woman was fined three dollars and costs(114)

The frequency of cases of violence was perhaps natural in a time of pride in strength, when the brag, "I'm a hoss" or "I can whip my weight in wild cats," was certain to provoke a fight.(115) However, most of these affrays were "fist and skull," weapons seldom being used. Only one case of dueling came before the courts and in that instance the fiery Wheelock from New Orleans, constantly in trouble, was indicted but not prosecuted. Only one charge of mayhem was brought and then the jury found the defendant not guilty even of assault and battery.(116) There were few of more serious crimes during the early days. Despite the hectic times there were no indictments for murder and only one for manslaughter. In that single case the jury said "not guilty."(117) There were no lynchings. It is said that in 1820 a horse thief was whipped and asked to leave by a mob. He left - on another man's horse - and was killed in flight.(118) Such violence, however, was very much the exception.

The passing of the years brought a great improvement. The number of indictments charging personal violence was far greater during the first ten years than in the next twenty-five. There was also a tendency to differentiate among the types of violence, indictments being for "assault with intent to kill," "assault with intent to do bodily harm," and the like. Even when the jury found the defendant guilty of assault and battery only, the fine was larger,(119) and punishments were sometimes as much as fifty dollars.(120) A short jail sentence was occasionally added to discourage such primitive methods.(121) An increase of penalties and a greater percentage of convictions reflect the changing point of view of the times. Social disapproval probably explains the lessening amount of personal violence, despite a growing population.

An entirely different type of violence seems, however, to have become more common. Beginning in the 1830's, there was a constantly increasing number of indictments for "riot," "unlawful assembly," and "disturbing the peace." One indictment for riot in 1845 included thirteen men.(122) In general, juries seemed inclined to wink at such offences in the latter part of the period.

In 1831 a man found guilty of "unlawful assembly" paid a fine of fifty dollars,(123) but ten persons convicted of that offence in 1843 paid one dollar each.(124) In 1833 seven men were charged with riot. Four were found not guilty and three paid fines of two dollars each.(125) An indictment against five men for "disturbing the peace" was quashed in 1837.(126) There is no further evidence to show whether such cases were due to political meetings, to too much conviviality on Greenville's "dram shop" row, or to other causes. At any rate, juries did not care to punish heavily where no real damage was done.

A certain amount of crime against property occurred all through these years. In the early days such indictments were made as mismarking hogs, overtelling at grinding, forgery,(127) larceny, trespass,(128) and "abuse of an astray."(129) The crimes against property of the early settlement days were rather petty and punishments were usually only small fines. More serious offences began to appear in the thirties, and judges and juries showed little leniency. Out and out thievery was punished severely. In 1831 a man convicted of stealing $l2.50 was fined that amount plus $6.50, and sentenced ". . . . to be confined to the County jail for the space of Twenty-four hours and that he receive forty lashes on his bare back between the hours of twelve and two."(130) In 1835 a man found guilty of purloining $44.75 was given a year at hard labor.(131) For stealing exactly the same amount in 1841, a man was sent to prison for eighteen months.(132) A sharpstar(sic) convicted of "a cheat" in 1837 was fined $17.25, "the amount of the cheat," and sent to jail for ten days.(133) In a burglary of that year, one man confessed and was sent to the penitentiary for twelve months, one day of which was to be in solitary confinement; his partner in crime fought the case and was given eighteen months with six days "in solitary."(134) "Malicious mischief" was apparently punished according to the amount of damage done. An offender of 1833 paid a fine of only three dollars.(135) But four years later a culprit was fined thirty dollars and costs and jailed for fifteen days,(136) while another paid forty dollars and costs and remained in jail ten days.(137) At a time when property meant so much, people had little sympathy for any criminal who endangered their possessions.

All during the period under consideration a relatively large number of cases of slander attest sensitiveness as to reputation. In a case of 1820 a plaintiff charged that he had been called a "rascal" and a "runaway." The jury salved his feelings with damages of one dollar.(138) In the same year another gentleman averred in his complaint that his "fame and reputation" bad now been attacked for the first time and that he had "ever been free of the atrocious crime of stealing hogs." He sued for one thousand dollars and received one picayune (six and one-fourth cents.(139) Similar suits occurred at intervals throughout the period. Juries treated such cases in all seriousness. Damages assessed were never heavy, ten dollars and costs being the largest for the period.(l40) Instituting suit and winning a case for slander was apparently regarded by the aggrieved person and his fellows as clearing his reputation of any stain put upon it.

It is often said that in most frontier communities sex crimes are relatively few, A study of the court records of Bond County show such an assertion to be true of that region. From 1817 to 1850 indictments by the grand jury for crimes of this type total as follows: two men accused of bigamy, both acquitted; ten couples accused of adultery or fornication or both; one case of rape combined with incest; and two cases of "assault with intent to commit rape." Five charges of bastardy were made during the period. In the combined incest and rape case, a change of venue was granted for the trial on the rape charge,(141) probably because of an aroused public opinion. The incest charge was later dropped, presumably after the trial at Hillsboro was over.(142) Both men accused of attacks left the county, for parts unknown and apparently never returned.(143)

As to the public viewpoint on adultery and fornication, terms used interchangeably in practice, it is a little difficult to draw conclusions, since one cannot learn the details concerning the several cases not prosecuted and concerning those in which defendants were found not guilty. However, in some of them circumstances point to the marriage of the defendants between indictment and trial, which would explain the leniency of the court and jury. In a case of 1835, for instance, two young people were accused of adultery and the father of "harboring minors."(144) When the suits came up, charges were dropped against the young people and the father was declared "not guilty."(145) The law itself was apparently designed to shame young people "in trouble" into solemnizing their relationships. Two persons in 1828 pleaded guilty on a charge of adultery but were released with payment of costs when they ". . . . according to the statute law in that case so provided, exhibited evidence . . . . that they were lawfully joined in marriage."(146)

Punishments meted out for conviction of adultery or fornication were rather heavy. In an early instance a man and woman were given the choice of a joint fine of forty-eight dollars or a year in jail.(147) In later convictions, the sentences deal more severely with the male defendants. Perhaps the woman was considered a victim or else she was thought to be partially punished by being publicly shamed. In one case a girl pleading guilty after her lover had fled the county was fined only three dollars.(148) In 1850 a man was sentenced to a month in jail, the woman to two hours.(149) It is little wonder that many of the men and several of the women indicted in such cases preferred to leave the county for parts unknown rather than face the court (i.e., if they did not wish to marry).

In the bastardy cases there is little doubt that judges and juries thought that the man should pay for the upbringing of the child. In one instance the court assessed fifty dollars cash and four dollars a month until the case came up again.(150) Most of the suits were apparently settled out of court. In one example both parties came into court and indicted(sic) that this was true.(151) There was a decrease in numbers of trials of sex crimes in the latter part of the period despite the increasing numbers of people in the county. People were possibly becoming lax in reporting immorality, but it is more probable that public opinion favored marriage so strongly that lovers usually chose that way out of their difficulties.

There were only occasional perjury and contempt of court cases.(152) Where conviction resulted, a small fine was the usual penalty, though an occasional jail sentence was given.(153) Respect for the court was evidently considered essential. A general desire on the part of juries to help judicial and administrative procedure is noticeable. In the scattered instances in which county officers were accused of using their authority unfairly, juries generally supported the officers. An example was a case in which the sheriff was sued for trespass and the jury "found for the defendant.(154) On the other hand a rather large number of prosecutions of justices of the peace and road supervisors for neglect of duty seems to reflect a popular desire for efficiency in public employees. The smallness of fines indicates a wish to expose the official, rather than to punish him severely. The fine of five dollars assessed in an 1844 case was about an average penalty for neglect of duty.(155) A more serious penalty was given Asahel Enloe in 1927 for " malconduct in office as Clerk (156) of the county commissioners' court." He was to pay the costs of the case and was ". . . . disqualified for public office for three years."(156)

The absolute lack of prosecution of gambling during the first part of the period causes a suspicion of leniency. The first case appearing was in 1830 and was dismissed because of a deadlocked jury.(157) But the same wave of public opinion that caused liquor to be sold behind closed doors during the latter half of the period caused an attempted clean-up of gambling. In fact, many of the prosecutions for gaming were tied up with indictments for selling liquor without a license. A raid in 1839 resulted in the trial at one session of the court of fourteen persons, among whom were some eminently respectable men. All pleaded guilty and were fined ten dollars apiece and costs.(158)

At the same session the grand jury indicted forty-eight other persons on the same charge.(159) A few of the defendants left the county for a time, the names of several others were "removed from the docket," but most paid the conventional ten dollars. At the next session of the court, one Henry Nevil was fined fifty dollars "for gaming" and the same amount "for keeping a gaming house."(160) The wave of reform went even farther, and several persons were convicted of "playing cards for money." A typical case is one in 1841 where each culprit was fined ten dollars and costs.(161) If the relative number of convictions is indicative, the wave of reform ran its course within a few years. Of the seventeen indicted as the result of a raid in 1845, the jury freed most, but one of the proprietors of the house was fined twenty dollars.(162) In 1847 fourteen persons were all declared not guilty in one action.(163) Apparently in despair of gaining convictions, the prosecutor began asking that suits be ". dismissed from the docket with leave to be reinstated at any time."(164) Apparently clamping down the lid on gambling had not proved a happy solution.


One of the first deeds recorded in Bond County was that of the sale of a tract of two acres for the sum of three dollars, with the stipulation that it should be ". . . . laid out for a meeting house for the use of Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church."(165) This transaction reflects the desire of the pioneers to provide themselves with more regular church instruction than they could get from the occasional sermons of itinerant ministers, who preached in private homes.(166) The church built on the above site became known as "Moody's," after one of its founders.(167)

A Presbyterian group was not far behind the Methodists. The congregation which they organized in 1819 is said to have been the second Presbyterian church in Illinois. This organization included widely scattered groups of pioneers and was known as the Shoal Creek congregation)(168) A Sunday school was started at once.(169) In 1819 the organization built a log church with puncheon floors.(170)

A Baptist organization known as the Mt. Nebo Church was organized about 1820, holding its meetings in a private home four miles west of Greenvi1le.(171) By 1827 the number of congregations had been increased by a Methodist group in Greenville and a Cumberland Presbyterian fellowship west of Greenville, both meeting in private homes.(172)

At about the same time the "Old Presbyterian" congregation on Shoal Creek found itself unable to hold together its diverse elements and split into three geographical divisions. The North Carolinian group in the north central part of the county built its own "church school" and had ministers sent by the Home Missionary Society.(173) The "Ohio Settlement" kept the original church, and a Greenville group also tried a separate existence. However, in 1832 the Presbytery of Carmo reunited the last two congregations and a new church was built at a compromise point two miles north of Greenville. Eventually in the forties a place of worship was built in Greenville.(174) The Presbyterian church was strong in Bond County throughout the period.

The building of churches went on space until nearly every community had its "meeting house." By 1850 there were five church buildings each for the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians (Congregationalists) and one for the Tunkers (Dunkards). The census takers estimated that these sixteen churches would hold 5050 persons at one time, or, in other words, the total population of the county.(175) Also, some congregations too poor to own a building still held services in private homes as in early days.(176) Most of these early churches have disappeared long since; many of their sites are still marked by more or less desecrated graveyards.

There were no churches in Greenville until the forties. The Presbyterians, as mentioned before, had their church outside the city. The Methodists and Baptists worshipped in private homes and took turns at using the courthouse for senices.(177) In the forties, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists, who had recently separated, each built their own meeting house in Greenville; the Methodists started a building in 1849 and the Baptists in 1854.(178) A Methodist church was built in the village of Pocahontas in 1854.(179) There is said to have been a church on the site of Mulberry Grove long before a village was started there.(180)

The idea of the camp meeting was brought in by the earliest settlers. The chief needs were a good spring and a grove of trees. The plot of ground bought by the first Methodist congregation had these prerequisites and Moody's Camp Ground became very popular. It was here that a daughter of Peter Cartwright was killed by a falling limb of a tree in a storm which came up during one of her father's sermons.(181) Durley Camp Ground, northeast of Greenville, first used in the twenties, is still employed today. In 1827 there were three camp grounds used every summer.(182)

The meetings at Bethel did not please Rev. Foster. He says: It had been their practice to hold a kind of camp meeting exercise every autumn; we found their "log tents" as they called them, all in working order surrounding the church. So we yielded to their plan at first. But it drew together the unprincipled youngsters in all the region around who proceeded to carry out their mischievous designs. Very little good was done.(183)

However, the camp meeting as an institution was popular and several other grounds were started. An example is that of Morrison Spring Camp Meeting Ground started by a Methodist group in 1840. Forty acres of land at the foot of a bluff on the east side of Shoal Creek were purchased for fifty dollars and the land was put in the hands of a group of trustees.(184) The camp meeting vogue must not be ascribed to religion alone. The annual gathering lasted for several days and provided a vacation for the whole family. People who had been long apart met and conversed at leisure. The extended services afforded balm to the spirit. The meeting combined the appeal of a religious service and that of a country fair. It was an occasion to be looked forward to eagerly and remembered with pleasure, the culmination of both the social and religious life of the year.

By modern standards the church services of that day were strongly over-emotionalized. The preaching was noisy and plentifully accompanied with gestures, the singing over-loud.(185) The faithful of the flock were commonly in the habit of "speakin' out in meetin'."(l86) The "revivals" or "protracted meetings," and the camp meeting services were especially conducted so as to play upon the hopes and fears of a simple people. In the earlier days such physical manifestations as "the jerks" and "the falling down exercise" were common among Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations.(187) Most enlightened ministers did not encourage these manifestations, though Peter Cartwright, who preached often in Bond County, is said to have regarded them with good-humored tolerance.(188) "Shouting," spontaneous prayer, and sudden bursts of singing were other characteristics of the "revival."

A letter of an early Presbyterian minister in Bond County gives a complete picture of a "protracted meeting." Preparatory sermons for several Sundays led up to this four-day session. The emotional climax was reached at the last service. Seven preachers sat facing a crowded church while another exherted(sic) the congregation. ...Sighs, sobs, and groans could be heard from every part of the house. . . . . Those who were hoping were seated by themselves, the anxious all around them. Soon one left her seat, and placed herself among those who entertained a hope of pardon, then another and another. This awakened the greatest distress among those who were left. Many were unable to restrain their feelings. In the course of about three hours, twenty or more hopefully passed from death unto life.(189)

A protracted meeting of Pocahontas in the 1850's, as described by a resident, seems a little more restrained but essentially the same in its main outlines. The services were held in the winter time. It was hoped that new zeal would be added to the faithful and that "sinners" would "get religion." A "mourner's bench" was provided for those who came to "agonize" till they felt their sins forgiven. During their time of spiritual travail, the congregation alternately listened to sermons, sang hymns "lined" by the minister, and took turns at praying. "Getting religion" usually meant working oneself up to a state of ecstasy where one shouted or sang or prayed joyfully, feeling that he had been accepted among the chosen of God.(190)

Yet one must not forget that the churches were Powerful instruments for good. Religious teaching of the day must be given at least part credit for the almost total lack of major crimes during the period. The appeal made to emotion was far more powerful than would have been an appeal to reason. And one should not associate this over-emotionalism with the religious life of the whole year. Regular church services were usually relatively calm,(191) and the members during most of the year quietly practiced the precepts of their religion and less quietly judged the ability of others to keep the commandments.

The ministers were usually sincere, God-fearing men, desiring only the good as they saw it, fearless and tireless in their work. Elder Peter Long, pastor of the Baptist congregation at Mt. Nebo for forty-five years, estimated that in traveling to fill other appointments during his lifetime he journeyed more than fifty thousand miles on foot, on horseback, and in horse-drawn vehicles.(192) The Rev. Lemuel Foster at Bethel fought for Sunday observance and temperance when neither was popular and preached abolition sermons which put him in danger of his life. His own judgment of the benefits of religion are summed up in his statement that he ". . . . assisted in several protracted meetings where much good was done and many conversions resulted . . Many ministers of outside reputation preached more or less regularly in Bond County. Among them were Bishop Ames, Jesse Hale, Peter Cartwright, and James B. Willard of the Methodists, Elder Long of the Baptists, and Lemuel Foster, Joel Knight, Thomas B. Hynes, and John Ingersoll, father of the great agnostic, of the Presbyterian-Congregationalists.(l94) These and the many regular ministers and missionaries undoubtedly served for reasons other than the hope of economic gain.

The relationships among the various Protestant sects seem on the whole to have been rather friendly. The uniting of the various groups for combined services excited comment in a newspaper outside the county in 1824.(195) The emphasis seems to have been less on creed than on good works. Occasionally, we find a little dissension about dogma, as when William Wood, a "hard-shelled" or Primitive Baptist withdrew from a Baptist congregation because of the nature of its communion. Yet his own nephew became a Methodist minister)(196) The breakup of the Shoal Creek Congregation may have been as much a result of the geographical distances separating the various groups as of religious differences.

The Congregationalists worked within the Presbyterian organization throughout the state for most of our period. Foster of Bethel, a Congregationalist at heart, says, ". . . . We did not stop to spend a thought about it (creed) nor was it necessary or a duty until the Presbyterians in after times began to 'ismize' religion . . . . we were all there for work, not for an Ism."(l97) Then Congregationalism split off from the state Presbyterian organization, the separation in Greenville was apparently without rancor. The Congregationalists used the Presbyterian church for their separate services during the period when they were planning and building their own house. The Methodists and Baptists held exercises in the Presbyterian church all through the 1840's(198) Nor did the Methodists, who by diligence and popular appeal gradually wrested from the Presbyterians their early ascendancy in the county, allow their evangelic zeal to make them narrow. The pulpit of the Methodist church at Pocahontas was occupied during the fifties on "off Sundays" by Baptist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran ministers. The Sunday school conducted there was nonsectarian.(199) Cartwright and the Methodist fathers might rail against other sects and the state organization of the Presbyterians might complain against their erstwhile Congregationa1 brethren,(200) but in practice the different churches were friendly in Bond County. An outside minister visiting Greenville in 1845 commented later on "the readiness and cordiality with which one church opened to another.(20l)

There is much to support the belief that the Christian ideals were faithfully put into practice by a large part of the people. An early pioneer says, " . . . . We had little use for lawyers or courts. To share with the needy, to visit the sick and afflicted we considered a duty. . . ."(202) The lack of snobbery of early churches is reflected in another statement, ". . I had no store clothes until I was 21. . . . I went to church in shirt sleeves and barefooted. . . "(203) The people at Bethel in the 1830's are described as very poor but ". . . . there were several good fathers in Israel on whom one could rely for Christian aid and sympathy and support as far as their limited means would allow."(204) A farmer of the forties says, '. . . . Neighbors shared with one another in time of need. . . . ."(205) Parental enforcement of the precepts was intended. A member of the "Ohio Settlement" put in his will the following clause, ". . . . If any of my sons be disobedient to their mother and refuse to be ruled by her law I allow them to be bound to some trade and forfeit their right to any part of the land." The same man gave fifteen dollars "for missionary purposes."(206)

Religious precept might suffer at times in the interest of business, but even the hard bargainer wished well for the church. A number of probate records show prosperous men contributing liberally toward the support of religion. Even John Russell, usurer on a large scale, signed a subscription for twenty-five dollars to the Presbyterian church of Greenville just before his death.(207) An attitude of mind general throughout the period is shown in the will of a Presbyterian father: ". . . . In the name of God. Amen

Principally and first of all I bequeath my Sole to Gode (sic) who gave it, and my body to the ground to be buried in a Christian like and decent manner."(208) A lawyer resident in Greenville in the forties says, ". . . . The people were moral and upright.... (209) The records of the period generally upheld his opinion. Most of the folk lived by the rules of their religious teaching.

The family Bible was a prized possession occupying a position of prominence in nearly every home. (210) Almost every estate settled during the period had one or more Bibles in the inventory, usually purchased by some member of the family at the public sale. The limited library of many a home was entirely religious or nearly so. One farmer owned two books, ". . . . 1 Bible, 1 song book and Discipling. . . ."(211) Another had, besides his History of England, a History of the Martyrs, a "Family Bible" and a Book of the Confessions of the Faith.(212) Larger libraries contained a goodly share of religious books. John Russell owned On the Passions by Watts, an Encyclopedia of Religious knowledge, two volumes of Josephus, Village Sermons, a testament, and a hymn book.(213) The religious tracts and papers of the forties no doubt found their way into most homes.

Humanitarian and Reform Movements

The general attitude of the people of Bond County on slavery was a rather odd one. Many immigrants from the South insisted that they had left their old homes because of their hatred of s1avery.(214) A majority of the people voted in the negative as to a constitutional convention to permit slavery in 1824. Slavery gradually disappeared from the county. The kidnapping of a Negro boy for sale in the South in 1827 caused enough excitement to make it necessary that the culprits be granted a change of venue to Clinton County.(215) Yet these people who did not want slavery for themselves resented any adverse discussion of the institution. A schoolmaster of the time makes a very extreme statement about conditions in Bond County.

"Ninety-nine men out of a hundred were for slavery between 1830 and 1850. They aided in the recapture of slaves and believed in the "Divine Institution." In 1842, fifteen neighbors intended to mob me. My brother Thomas was for slavery but helped fight them off.(216)

In 1843 it was rumored about that there was a "station" for runaway slaves at Bethel. Mrs. Foster writes, ". . . . This created quite a feeling in the minds of the pro-slavery element. ." Her husband resolved to hold a neighborhood "lyceum" and preach on the subject.

When the day arrived the pro-slavery element from a vast region was present. Our church was large but every foot of space was occupied. Big wagons were placed at the windows and were all filled . . . . . Preaching for more than two hours, he commented on every passage dealing with the subject within the lids of the Bible. . . . . We trembled for his safety.(217)

Another minister preaching an abolition sermon in a schoolhouse of another part of the county in the fifties had to deal with "seventy five or one hundred." He spoke with a gun on the desk in front of him and left afterwards with an armed escort.(218) One Southern sympathizer probably voiced the feelings of his group when he said, ". . . . A nigger has no more of a soul than a black sow. . ."(219)

The violence of the feelings of the "pro-slavery" group is not inexplicable if one considers the uncompromising and unforgiving attitude of the abolitionists. One minister speaks of a group sympathetic to slavery as". . . . an illiterate nest . . . . as ignorant as a horse. . . . ."(220) Mrs. Foster writes:

Our church continued united with barely one exception-that of our principal physician who was very hostile to the colored race. He made some strong demonstrations for a time, but soon felt himself losing caste; thereupon his ardor abated and he became one of our firmest friends.(221)

The good lady speaks of her husband ". . . . passing by a gang of the pro-slavery rabble and . . . . bow(ing) to them and address (ing) them as gentlemen. . . ."(222)

It is probable that a great many people were not actively sympathetic with either the abolitionists or their enemies, but firmly believed that the less discussion of the matter the better for every one. Only two Bond County residents attended the AntiSlavery Convention of Alton in 1837.(223) A resident of Pocahontas in the fifties speaks of abolition in relation to debates of a Lyceum group which had recently been initiated in the village. He says, ". . . . These Lyceum debates revealed that there were full-fledged abolitionists resident in the village and this at a time when the mere word was doomed a reproach, so ..great was the influence of the upholders of African slavery. . . . ."(224) The working of the "underground railway" created considerable resentment among both the pro-Southern group and the moderates. The effect of the rumor of a "station" at Bethel has already been mentioned. It was these fiery groups of the north part of the county that were to figure in the Copperhead uprisings and the violence of the "Clingman gang" during the early days of the Civil War.(225) But running a "station" was probably a dangerous business anywhere in the county. The minister of the Dunkard group on Northeast Prairie used great care to hide his operations from everyone.(226) The Rev. Robert Stewart of the Congregational Church of Greenville in the forties also ran a "station,"(227) probably known only to a few members of his church group.

The reform movement of the mid-thirties and the forties has already been referred to in connection with immorality and gambling. How successful the crusade was in preventing sex crimes cannot be ascertained. As to gambling, it was distinctly unsuccessful. The wave of temperance which swept the region also met with indifferent success, able to hide the traffic from the light of day but unable to stop it.

The early taverns were in good repute and often were owned by reputable citizens. Before 1830 circuit court was frequently held in Berry's Tavern in Greenville. The village's other tavern of the same period was conducted by the wife of the merchant, a prominent citizen.(228) But conditions changed as the wave of reform struck the county. Many zealots like Rev. Foster preached prohibition at every opportunity.(229) Local groups argued the question endlessly.(230) When Benjamin Johnson, an early convert to teetotalism planned the village of Pocahontas, he insisted that it be dry. Even the tavern had no liquor for the stage passengers, although whiskey was later sold in the general store.(231)

A moral stigma was soon attached to the liquor trade and drinking. Many localities became dry and fewer and fewer tavern licenses were applied for. An attempt was made to strictly enforce the "retailing act" which allowed licensed merchants to sell liquor in large amounts only.(232) There were frequent prosecutions for "selling liquor without a license"(233) and "keeping an open tipling(sic)house."(234) Petitions were circulated asking the state legislature to allow each local unit of government absolute local option of the question of the sale of "ardent spirits."(235)

At first glance it might seem that the reformers had succeeded. An immigrant to Greenville in 1843 writes, ". . . . I found that the county was a temperance county and that there was not a licensed saloon in it. . . . ." However, he later qualifies his statement thus: ". . . . On the corner was an old two-story frame house. It was the headquarters of every unlicensed saloon that was started. These unlicensed saloons always ran until the grand jury met . . . . ." Apparently the liquor business had merely taken to cover, while drunkenness seems to have been quite common.(236) One writer comments, ". . . . Between 1830 and 1845, you could often see (in Greenville) twenty or thirty or more all drunk, sleeves rolled up, swearing, yelling like Indians."(237) The reformers must have been annoyed on every public occasion by the open flouting of their teachings.

Foster of Bethel also concerned himself with the "fearful desecration" of the Sabbath about him and thought that his denunciations were effective. Later, from Alton, he flooded the region with tracts on keeping the Sabbath, as well as upon the subjects of temperance and abolition.(238) Several prosecutions for Sabbath desecration appear in the court records. The earliest case was in 1833 when a merchant was prosecuted "for keeping open grocery doors on Sunday."(239) The jury disagreed and the suit was eventually quashed. Grand juries occasionally made a liquor indictment appear worse by combining it with a charge of Sunday desecration.(240) How effective this reform was in changing the lives of the people, one cannot say. However, the fact that not a single conviction for breaking the Sabbath was gained before 1850 makes it seem that juries were at best lukewarm on that subject.

Education and Cultural Growth

The first school of Bond County is said to have been a "subscription school." It was opened in Greenville in 1819 by a Revolutionary War veteran.(241) The schools of much of our period were of that type. A teacher or some interested person canvassed a community in order to get money pledges. The unit of measure was the "scholar," i.e., one child for a specified number of days. A patron might subscribe for one or more "scholars" and then alternate his children in attendance so as never to have more than the specified number in school.(242) The teacher presented his bills at the end of the term of three or four months.(243)

Private homes were often used as places of instruction. Before 1830 several cabins in and about Greenville were used for school purposes at various times. In that year a frame building was erected as a village school,(244) and in the early forties a small brick house was provided.(245) Whether or not a community had a school building depended largely upon individual enterprise. The census of 1840 reports only twelve "primary and common schools" with 324 pupils for the entire county. Since there were at the time 1574 children between the ages of five and fifteen, it is doubtful if the report was complete. Probably pupils of schools held in private homes were not counted.(246)

The sale of school lands within the county brought some money to the various townships, although not nearly enough to support a good school system. In December 1834, Benjamin Johnson was appointed Commissioner of the county school lands and two years later trustees were named by the county court for each of the nine sections within the county.(247) The inhabitants of two townships petitioned for the sale of their districts in 1834. These were offered at public sale at the Edwardsville Land Office the next year, but only two forties were disposed of and those at the minimum price. The remainder of these sections sold at private sale for $1.25 per acre.(248) Some sections brought a better price. One sold in 1836-37 at prices ranging from $1.25 to $6.00 per acre, bringing a total of $2l70.(249) Another brought a total of $1292.90 in 1839.(250) However, a prairie section which was sold during the slump of 1839-41 yielded only the minimum of $800 to the school fund.(251) The four sections held back until the 1850's commanded better prices, $1580, $904, $2039.20, and $4164, respectively, the last section bringing from $5.45 to $8.10 an acre.(252) Some of these sales were for cash, others on credit. The credit sales brought the best prices, but some of the land had to be taken back.(253) In 1854 the total amount of the township fund out at interest was $8709.70.(254) The county school system was further helped by the school funds donated by the state in the forties. The first installment of "the Bonus" was received by the school commissioner in 1843, amounting to $4255.(255)

The money of these various school funds was invested and the interest from it was apportioned among the schools. In 1854 the interest from the "township fund" was $1257.01, from the "county fund" $770.07, and from the "state fund" $587.76, a total of $2614.84. The amount expended by the schools of the county in that year was $4576.66. Therefore, about $2000 had to be raised from private sources, i.e., by subscription. The law of 1845 allowing each township to lay a special tax for schools was not applied in the county.(256)

A bill of 1853-54 to a patron for a year's schooling shows how educational finance worked in practice. Though some teachers received as much as $40 per month, this one was paid only $15, during both "summer" and "winter" terms. This amount plus other expenses, such as firewood, was pro-rated among the parents according to the number of pupil-days utilized, The credits of "school money" apportioned to the school by the trustees was prorated in like manner. Each person owed the teacher the difference between his debit and his credit.(257) The total cost for any patron over the period of a year seems trifling, only a few dollars per pupil. Yet the poorer people could not always afford to use the schools.(258) Others probably did not feel like paying out good money for something regarded as a luxury. Such conditions were largely eliminated in 1855 by the coming of "free schools," supported entirely by taxation.

The census of 1850 reports thirty-three public schools, fifty-eight teachers, and fifteen hundred pupils for the county.(259) At that time many communities were still far from schools.(260) The buildings and equipment were often wretched. A log schoolhouse on the west prairie, once a farm cabin, is described as having one long window where a log had been taken out. It was heated by a huge clay fireplace. There was very little equipment except for the backless slab seats for the pupils and a split-bottom chair and candle stand for the "master."(261) Other schools were no doubt better equipped, but lack of an adequate method of raising sufficient funds before 1855 operated against the building of good houses and the purchase of much equipment.

The quality of the instruction must have been at best mediocre. Some teachers were well trained and came from regions of greater culture. Others were the product of the schools in which they later taught, receiving no other training.(262) The teachers were under serious handicaps in giving instruction. A school usually had a large group of all ages from small children to grown men and women.(263) Better conditions were to be found in the two-teacher schools, but even there instructors were overworked. In the early 1850's the residents of Pocahontas, affected by the wave of popular opinion in favor of more education that was then sweeping the state,(264) erected a two-story "Academy." The two teachers employed instructed over one hundred pupils in reading, writing, spelling, history, geography, grammar, Latin, algebra, chemistry, and philosophy.(265) A teacher in an ordinary school could not be so ambitious. Objectives set were seldom very high and much rested with the individual scholar. It was generally agreed that a woman was sufficiently educated if she could read the Bible,(266) but the necessities of every day life taught that it was practical for a man to be able to read and write and "figger."

Most of the early subscription schools were "vocal schools." A pioneer lady who attended such a classroom in the thirties says, ". . . . We studied aloud. Spelling was pretty loud. . ". . . . It is said that at the crescendo of noise just before the noon recess or final dismissal for the day the studying could be heard a mile away.(268) Only men teachers were adjudged equal to the teaching of a vocal school.(269) "Silent schools" came in slowly and women teachers became common by the forties.(270) Among the text-books used were Pike's Arithmetic, Webster's Elementary Spelling Book, the Columbian Geography, Murray's Grammar, the New Testament, and the English Reader.(271)

In the fifties tile original McGuffey Readers came into use.(272) The "church schools" of the various Presbyterian churches merit some attention. The Shoal Creek Congregation maintained a Saturday school after 1820, instruction being given in spelling, arithmetic, reading, and writing.(273) When the Bethel group split off from the parent body they started their own school, and by 1835 this had grown into a two-teacher "Seminary" where the minister taught Latin, Greek, and mathematics to advanced classes. His wife gave instruction to ". . . . the school at large as it consisted of all ages and grades."(274) The census of 1850 classed the school as an "academy." The two teachers at that time had sixty pupils. Of the $720 annual expense, $216 was from the public funds provided by the trustees.(275) The fate of the original church school is not known, but when the church was established in Greenville full-time, instruction was maintained. In 1846 a fortunate combination was effected between the Congregationalist church and the school trustees by which their efforts and money were pooled. A new school building resulted, and the costs of instruction were divided.(276)

A slow but steady cultural growth of the people of the county is noticeable. Common school education of a kind being available to most children, a higher rate of literacy was to be expected in the forties. In 1840, there were 271 persons in the county who admitted to the census takers that they could not read and write;(277) by 1850 the number had decreased to thirty-four.(278) Signatures are often very shaky and the writing shows original ideas as to capitalization, but there is a marked decrease in the number of signatures by mark. Receipts, inventories of estates, and other papers reveal in their spelling and form lack of familiarity with quill and ink, but the writers are at least literate. It is probable that a growing appreciation of the practical business reasons for having the rudiments of an education affected even the poorest farmer.

Reading habits were no doubt stimulated by the growing interest in the happenings and issues of the day. One farmer of the forties is said to have subscribed for seven weekly newspapers.(279) In this decade a number of such papers were started in Bond County itself. The Protestant Monitor, a two-sheet weekly priced at two dollars per year, was published in Greenville from 1844 to 1848 by one E. M. Lathrop.(280) It was 'Devoted to Religious Liberty, Essential Truth, and General Intelligence." Primarily religious, it was not too concerned with local news. A single issue, so far as is known, is in existence today. One column of the first page was devoted to "Business Cards" and three to an installment of a story taken from Sear's Magazine. Another column was given over to a moral short story called "The Axe Stealer." Then followed several columns of platitudinous editorials on such subjects as "Debt," "Dignity," and "Man's Love." Other features were foreign and domestic news taken from other papers, a letter by Governor Ford on the Mormon question, a discussion of "The War in the Rio de La Plata," an editorial on Christianity, and a copy of a petition to the legislature asking for local option on the liquor question.(281) Certainly there was a dearth of local news. A later editor complains that an 1847 issue allowed four lines to mention the marching through Greenville of the Mexican War regiments, while a half column was used in thanking a patron for a gift of a bushel of Romanito apples.(282)

When the Monitor moved to Alton in 1848 the field was clear for the Greenville Jouna1, a weekly founded late in that year. Its editor had already had some experience publishing the "Barn Burner," a party paper in the exciting political campaign of that autumn. No copies of this sheet prior to 1850 are in existence so far as is known, but it is reported to have been a far better local organ than its predecessor.(283)

Contemporaneous with the above papers was the Western Evangelist published from 1845 to 1853 by Elder Peter Long, the veteran evangelist of Mt. Nebo. During a part of this time he kept presses on his farm west of Greenville. The government granted him a local post-office to facilitate the mailing of his two thousand copies. For a while in 1848 he also issued a second paper called the Western Fountain.(283a) The number of subscriptions to these papers, while not all local, reflects a change in reading habits.

The estates settled during the latter part of the period included libraries far oftener than those of an early day. It is true that many families owned only three or four religious volumes only, but histories of England, "Classic Books," biographies, books of letters, etc., appear quite often.(284) A library of an estate 1839 contained, besides religious and school books, Beauchamp's The Art of Speaking, History of the United States, English Dictionary, Life of Bonaparte, Gibson's Surveying, Conductor Generalis, Natural and Political Law, Flint's Survey, four volumes of Blackstone, "Burlemagure" (two volumes), Furgeson's Astronomy, Life of Franklin, Life of Euclid, Gunter's Scale, Laws of Illinois (four volumes), Olney's Geography and Atlas, and twelve "Sunday books.(285) The census of 1850 reports one public library with eight hundred volumes, and four school libraries totaled eight hundred more.(286) The county was by no means becoming literary by 1850, but its level was rising.

Bond County went through many remarkable changes during first forty years. The year 1850 does not mark the completion of the evolution, but most of the pioneer's battles had been successfully fought. Nearly all of the land had passed into private hands, improved methods of agriculture had come into use, and transportation and trade had been developed. Law and order prevailed, a democratic local government functioned efficiently, and social relationships had evolved to fit the time and place. Religion played an important role in the lives of the people, an adequate school system was gradually being developed, cultural growth was taking place, and there were evidences of the coming of broader and more humane views. The future held many problems, the solutions of which were not indicated by frontier experience. Nevertheless, a solid foundation had been laid for subsequent development.

Footnotes for Chapter III

Primary Sources
Unprinted Documents
Printed Material

Geographical Material:

Memoirs, Journals, and Personal Accounts:

Secondary Sources



Templates in Time