Old Times In Schuyler 

J. D. Manlove Recalls the Early Days
By Howard F. Dyson, 1918

Jonathan D. Manlove, secretary of the first old settler’s meeting held in Rushville in 1859, was one of the first school teachers in the county and was the first surveyor, holding the office from 1825 to 1829. He was thruout his life prominent in the affairs of the county and appreciated the value of local history and thru his contributions to the newspapers many important facts of pioneer days are recorded.

In the following article, written in 1859, Mr. Manlove gives his reminiscenses of pioneer days:

Thirty-six years ago the wild game of the forest and prairies were undisturbed by white men. In this part of the state Indians were encamped here and hunted the game. Then we were all social, plainly clad, and thankful for small favors. Now it is the reverse on the aggregate. Now I fear some of us lack in gratitude, tho we abound in the necessities of life. The word of God was then dispensed in rude cabins and listened to by roughly dressed audiences. Now pride and ostentation abound both in our pulpits and our people.

Then our latch strings were always out; now we are sometimes “not at home” to our friends. But comparisons are sometimes odious, and I will make no more, but to proceed to detail some early incidents.

The first public roads in Schuyler county were surveyed by Mr. Manlove and in staking out a blazed trail to Galena in 1827 a thorofare was opened that brought fortune seekers from every eastern state thru Rushville when they journeyed to the northern lead mines which offered rich promise of reward in the early ‘thirties.

The first school was built near B. Chadsey’s in 1826, but at that early period the same difficulty in regard to the ways and means and location of school houses, existed, that too often yet exist, and no school was ever taught in it. The first schools taught were in the summer of 1826; one on section 16 in this township, by Sophronia Chadsey, and the other by me in my own cabin near this place. The children then came wearing jeans and linsey, when they could get it; many wore buckskin pantaloons and coonskin caps. We had no “upper ten” then, but were peers, and as independent men and women and as good christians are now.

For the young men who are about to begin housekeeping I will relate how I began. In 1828 I brought in a linen sack, on horseback from Jacksonville, all the cooking apparatus, to-wit: skillet, pots, pans, etc. We had no stoves.

I believe the first death of an adult was Solomon Stanberry, who died of typhoid fever. It was during the winter of 1827, five miles north at John Ritchey’s. I rode to Jacksonville in the night for a doctor; he was dying when I returned.

Thomas Beard, deceased, of Beardstown, and myself staked out the first road to Rock river, in the spring of 1827. We had two horses, an ax, a gun, a sack of provisions and a pocket compass. We engineered the road to Rock river in five days and staked out as we came back in five days more, carrying stakes on our horses to be set at such distance as to be seen from one to the other; very often using buffalo bones, as they were then plenty. We worked cheap; he paid me in good wishes and I paid him back in the same coin, and no interest charged. The same spring the first teams passed thru to the Galena lead mines and opened our road where it could not be traveled.

Our milling was done on horse-mills until 1832, except we went to Dunwidd’s mill, Morgan county, or Naples, now Exeter.

I recollect well at our first circuit court one of the fees paid a lawyer (Cavarly) was a barrel of honey, by Bird Brewer. That was in the spring of ……, and in the fall I, being a woodsman, piloted the court to Quincy, there being no road. John York Sawyer was judge; A. W. Cavarly, David Prickett, Jonathan H. Pugh, James Turney and John Turney were the lawyers. David Sacket was hired to pack the corned beef, corn bread and whisky. We camped out the first night a few miles beyond Camden and part spent the next night in Pike, not far from Atlas.

In the fall of 1825, W. H. Taylor was appointed to take the census of Schuyler county, embracing a scope of country north as far as Galena. He lost his horse near Rock Island on the trip to Galena in the spring of 1826. Wm. P. Manlove and myself made a trip to Rock Island to get said horse and suffered much–it was in March and April.

I well recollect in 1827, as volunteers were returning from the Galena county and from what was called the Winnebago war, two or three men were drowned in the creek east of Macomb, at the head of the timber, hence the name of Drowning creek. I helped to bury one man nine days after he was drowned.

I recollect well of Mrs. George Stewart making a suit of clothes out of lint of the stinging nettle of the woods for her husband. Apropos to this: John Green had a cotton jennie on the farm when he died, and several crops of cotton were raised for one or two years.

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Copyright © by Judi Gilker 2006