Letter From Pioneer
Sixty years ago on the eighth
of July last, R. R. Randall aided in founding Schuyler county's first permanent
newspaper, "The Prairie Telegraph," which later took the name of The Rushville
Times, and since that day his interest in his old home town has never waned,
and in a letter to the editor, he says he will visit Rushville again the
latter part of the month to renew old acquaintance, and will go from here
to Springfield to attend the state fair and a reunion of the 73d Ill. Inft.
Mr. Randall writes that he
has been ill for the past three months and is now in Chicago visiting with
his children, and is feeling better for the change. The following interesting
letter was penned at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska:
Editor Times--Dear Sir: I
want you to allow me thru the columns of your paper to thank God for his
long continued mercies during the four score years allotted to me on this
earth. He will hear me and accept my gratitude thru your columns just the
same as if in your church or in my closet, or among the many good friends
who still live in Schuyler county.
The incidents of my early
life in your town and county are very dear and sweet to me, and I want
to say something about them. Ten years ago I wrote you two letters, and
they were composed of names of many very early settlers, and many incidents
which have gone into oblivion and cannot be recalled, unless remembered
by the ordinary men and women who are still living. The young people will
only find them in history; if left by their parents, in acts and deeds.
On the 14th day of November,
1831, my father and mother landed in the town of Rushville, Illinois, having
come to Beardstown by steamboat from St. Louis, Mo. My father, Jonathan
G. Randall, was born in Williamsport, Penn., Jan. 11, 1804. In his eighteenth
year he walked over the Allegheny mountains and took a boat for Cincinnati,
Ohio, locating at London, Butler county, on "Paddy Run," twenty miles above
Cincinnati, where he learned the tailor's trade. On October 20, 1825, he
married Heathy Major of Franklin county, Indiana. So you see I am part
Henry Clay Randall, Richard
R. Randall and Eunice Ann Randall are the three children born in Ohio and
brought by them to Rushville. From the date of our arrival to the date
of the death of father and mother your oldest citizens are familiar. Wm.
S. Randall, Thomas Parrott Randall, Jonathan G. Randall, Charles C. Randall
and Josiah Parrott Randall, with Harriet Ellis Randall and Caroline E.
Randall, constitute the family born in Schuyler county. Only three members
of this family are now living--Eunice Ann Parrott, Charles C. Randall and
The spirit of immigration,
which took possession of my father, has caused his children to find homes
in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Oregon, Idaho and California. I was born on
the fortieth parallel line and have never abandoned it for a betterment,
because there is no other line where you, or any one else, can find such
grand conditions for man's wants. This statement will explain why I have
stood so steadfast for Nebraska, and why I have toiled to make so many
Schuyler people citizens of Nebraska. They have all been healthy, successful
and happy, and are willing to "stand up for Nebraska," and invite their
friends to come and find a beautiful home here.
Now I have finished up the
genealogy of the Randall family and said all are dead but three, and will
now come back to the scenes of our childhood, and say, these incidents
as seen and enjoyed by you are very dear to me. In my boyhood days I knew
personally all the old men I named in my letters of two years ago as well
as their blessed wives. It was their children I knew better. We were boys
together. Our wants were the same, our anxiety for better homes, for safe
companionship and for better government was the same. Should we live 80
years longer would never forget the grand men and women who settled in
the town of Rushville as well as the county of Schuyler. I have desired
to know whether the young men have all made a success in life and become
a credit to their homes.
Now, dear editor, I wish
you would take down your files of the Times in the fall of 1899 and look
over the names of the men whom I knew when a boy and you will see they
are familiar to yourself. There is an inspiration in every man's life and
character who came on to the stage of action from 1830 to 1840. His mission
in life was for a purpose. It makes my heart glad to know I had such an
association, such a love for the men of my boyhood and for the boys of
my boyhood. We did not know for what purpose we had been born; our education
in Christian homes; our inherent love for the flag of our government; our
personal knowledge of freedom and our hatred to slavery caused us quickly
to understand and readily to tender our services to a government when her
flag was assailed. We did not know then that God had written on the "celestial
chimes" the death knell of slavery, but we soon fell into line and awaited
the result of the four years of civil strife. The end came and the result
has proved a betterment to all who were concerned. I and you have seen
twenty-four states added to the Union of States. We have seen 86 millions
of people struggling for the maintainance of homes and government. We have
seen a grander dissimination of knowledge; we have seen an elevation of
man's mind to the belief that God abides with His people, and His will
on earth must be done.
I will make my annual visit
to Rushville about the last week of September or first week in October,
and will be pleased to see all the old people and many of the young people,
and give them a good old-fashioned shake. This may be my last visit on
earth. So goodbye until I see you.
Yours truly, R. R. Randall
Richard R. Randall
Richard R. Randall, one of
the old guard of sturdy pioneer residents of Schuyler, died on Saturday
at the home of his daughter, Mrs. H. E. Shean, 3941 Eddy street, Chicago,
Illinois; aged eighty-two years. His death was due to heart disease from,
which he had suffered for several months. Mr. Randall was a resident of
Lincoln, Neb., and his remains were taken there for interment.
It has been more than thirty
years since Mr. Randall left Rushville, but he is remembered by scores
of old friends and it was a real pleasure for him to revisit the old home
as he frequently did and greet them. He loved Rushville for the old associations
that formed a part of his life, and on his last visit here in September
1908 had a hearty word of greeting for his old friends.
Richard R. Randall was a
son of Jonathan G. Randall and was born in Butler county, Ohio, Sept. 20,
1828. In the summer of 1831 his father emigrated westward with his family
and in the fall of that year settled in Rushville. Here the son attended
school and was a pupil of Edward Bertholf in the old Methodist church.
Early in life he formed a desire to learn the printer's trade and in 1839
began work in the office of the Rushville Republican, which was then published
by Augustus R. Sparks in the Joseph Haskell building on the present site
of Schuyler county's court house.
Founder of Prairie Telegraph
On July 8, 1848, Mr. Randall
and Benj. F. Scripps began the publication of The Prairie Telegraph, which
proved to be Rushville's first permanent newspaper, the name being changed
to The Rushville Times on May 24, 1856. At that early date the electric
telegraph had not yet come into general use, mail was carried overland
by stage coach and the printing office equipment was crude and cumbersome.
It seems more than marvelous to realize what has been accomplished in the
newspaper field since R. R. Randall put the Prairie Telegraph to press
In a letter to The Times
editor, writen ten years ago, Mr. Randall gave a graphic account of his
early journalistic experiences which is here published:
"My father put me to learn
the printing business with Augustus R. Sparks in 1839. He published a paper
at that time in the up stairs of Joseph Haskell's house, on the corner
where your court house now stands. In 1840, in the month of June, my father
took me to Springfield, Ill., in company with a large delegation of Whigs,
who were going to attend a great convention of the Whig party at that place.
In that month he left me at the Journal office to fight the battle of self-reliance
in learning the printing business. I was bound out for eight long years,
and was so smart I graduated in six and came back home with a bad record.
I 'deserted' and found my true value. The editor, Simeon Francis, offered
six cents reward for my return. No one captured me and I connected myself
with Benjamin F. Scripps, in 1848, in publishing the 'Prairie Telegraph.'
"Money was very scarce as
well as subscribers and we did not make sufficient to support two families.
We could not live entirely on coon skins, pumpkins and cord wood, so I
went to Beardstown and published the 'Beardstown Gazette' for Judge Emmons
for two years, and he paid me six dollars every week for my work. I made
him agree to pay my board, so the landlord would not starve me because
of non-payment of board. The judge was a bachelor and he could not eat
cord wood or broom corn, but he could trade them off for board and rent,
and he kept the Gazette running. We were deprived of the present facilties
of getting from place to place. The stage coach was our only speedy way
to travel. The river, when not dry, was used for St. Louis as our method
of conveying commerce and transacting the business of the county."
A Friend of Abraham Lincoln
It was in 1840 that Mr. Randall
first met Abraham Lincoln and he treasured as one of his priceless mementoes
a letter that Lincoln wrote to his father at Rushville telling how he had
befriended the boy at the state capital. In after years Mr. Randall ever
cherished a warm spot in his heart for Abraham Lincoln and when as the
nation's executive he made the call for volunteers Mr. Randall was one
among the many young men from Schuyler who went to the front. He enlisted
in the 73d Ill. Vol. and was promoted to the rank of major.
Prominent in Immigration
In the fall of 1869 Mr. Randall
left Rushville for the west and for thirty years was actively engaged in
immigration work. He was sent as a representative of Nebraska to the Centennial
Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876 and since that time had officially attended
all national expositions.
Nebraska in 1879 had only
28,000 population and the work that Mr. Randall did as immigrant agent
for the old Burlington & Missouri railroad had much to do with the
rapid settlement of the state in the succeeding ten years and he lived
to see Nebraska take rank as one of the wealthy and prosperous agricultural
sections of the country