|Letter From Pioneerof 1828|
Sixty years ago on the eighthof July last, R. R. Randall aided in founding Schuyler county’s first permanentnewspaper, “The Prairie Telegraph,” which later took the name of The RushvilleTimes, 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 thelatter part of the month to renew old acquaintance, and will go from hereto Springfield to attend the state fair and a reunion of the 73d Ill. Inft.
Mr. Randall writes that hehas been ill for the past three months and is now in Chicago visiting withhis children, and is feeling better for the change. The following interestingletter was penned at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska:
Editor Times–Dear Sir: Iwant you to allow me thru the columns of your paper to thank God for hislong continued mercies during the four score years allotted to me on thisearth. He will hear me and accept my gratitude thru your columns just thesame as if in your church or in my closet, or among the many good friendswho still live in Schuyler county.
The incidents of my earlylife in your town and county are very dear and sweet to me, and I wantto say something about them. Ten years ago I wrote you two letters, andthey were composed of names of many very early settlers, and many incidentswhich have gone into oblivion and cannot be recalled, unless rememberedby the ordinary men and women who are still living. The young people willonly 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, havingcome to Beardstown by steamboat from St. Louis, Mo. My father, JonathanG. Randall, was born in Williamsport, Penn., Jan. 11, 1804. In his eighteenthyear he walked over the Allegheny mountains and took a boat for Cincinnati,Ohio, locating at London, Butler county, on “Paddy Run,” twenty miles aboveCincinnati, where he learned the tailor’s trade. On October 20, 1825, hemarried Heathy Major of Franklin county, Indiana. So you see I am partHoosier.
Henry Clay Randall, RichardR. Randall and Eunice Ann Randall are the three children born in Ohio andbrought by them to Rushville. From the date of our arrival to the dateof the death of father and mother your oldest citizens are familiar. Wm.S. Randall, Thomas Parrott Randall, Jonathan G. Randall, Charles C. Randalland Josiah Parrott Randall, with Harriet Ellis Randall and Caroline E.Randall, constitute the family born in Schuyler county. Only three membersof this family are now living–Eunice Ann Parrott, Charles C. Randall andmyself.
The spirit of immigration,which took possession of my father, has caused his children to find homesin Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Oregon, Idaho and California. I was born onthe 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 suchgrand conditions for man’s wants. This statement will explain why I havestood so steadfast for Nebraska, and why I have toiled to make so manySchuyler people citizens of Nebraska. They have all been healthy, successfuland happy, and are willing to “stand up for Nebraska,” and invite theirfriends to come and find a beautiful home here.
Now I have finished up thegenealogy of the Randall family and said all are dead but three, and willnow come back to the scenes of our childhood, and say, these incidentsas seen and enjoyed by you are very dear to me. In my boyhood days I knewpersonally all the old men I named in my letters of two years ago as wellas their blessed wives. It was their children I knew better. We were boystogether. Our wants were the same, our anxiety for better homes, for safecompanionship and for better government was the same. Should we live 80years longer would never forget the grand men and women who settled inthe town of Rushville as well as the county of Schuyler. I have desiredto know whether the young men have all made a success in life and becomea credit to their homes.
Now, dear editor, I wishyou would take down your files of the Times in the fall of 1899 and lookover the names of the men whom I knew when a boy and you will see theyare familiar to yourself. There is an inspiration in every man’s life andcharacter who came on to the stage of action from 1830 to 1840. His missionin life was for a purpose. It makes my heart glad to know I had such anassociation, such a love for the men of my boyhood and for the boys ofmy boyhood. We did not know for what purpose we had been born; our educationin Christian homes; our inherent love for the flag of our government; ourpersonal knowledge of freedom and our hatred to slavery caused us quicklyto understand and readily to tender our services to a government when herflag was assailed. We did not know then that God had written on the “celestialchimes” the death knell of slavery, but we soon fell into line and awaitedthe result of the four years of civil strife. The end came and the resulthas proved a betterment to all who were concerned. I and you have seentwenty-four states added to the Union of States. We have seen 86 millionsof people struggling for the maintainance of homes and government. We haveseen a grander dissimination of knowledge; we have seen an elevation ofman’s mind to the belief that God abides with His people, and His willon earth must be done.
I will make my annual visitto 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 onearth. So goodbye until I see you.
Yours truly, R. R. Randall
Richard R. Randall
Richard R. Randall, one ofthe old guard of sturdy pioneer residents of Schuyler, died on Saturdayat 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 ofLincoln, Neb., and his remains were taken there for interment.
It has been more than thirtyyears since Mr. Randall left Rushville, but he is remembered by scoresof old friends and it was a real pleasure for him to revisit the old homeas he frequently did and greet them. He loved Rushville for the old associationsthat formed a part of his life, and on his last visit here in September1908 had a hearty word of greeting for his old friends.
Richard R. Randall was ason 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 familyand in the fall of that year settled in Rushville. Here the son attendedschool 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 1839began work in the office of the Rushville Republican, which was then publishedby Augustus R. Sparks in the Joseph Haskell building on the present siteof Schuyler county’s court house.
Founder of Prairie Telegraphin 1848
On July 8, 1848, Mr. Randalland Benj. F. Scripps began the publication of The Prairie Telegraph, whichproved to be Rushville’s first permanent newspaper, the name being changedto The Rushville Times on May 24, 1856. At that early date the electrictelegraph had not yet come into general use, mail was carried overlandby stage coach and the printing office equipment was crude and cumbersome.It seems more than marvelous to realize what has been accomplished in thenewspaper field since R. R. Randall put the Prairie Telegraph to pressin 1848.
In a letter to The Timeseditor, writen ten years ago, Mr. Randall gave a graphic account of hisearly journalistic experiences which is here published:
“My father put me to learnthe printing business with Augustus R. Sparks in 1839. He published a paperat that time in the up stairs of Joseph Haskell’s house, on the cornerwhere your court house now stands. In 1840, in the month of June, my fathertook 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-reliancein 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, offeredsix cents reward for my return. No one captured me and I connected myselfwith Benjamin F. Scripps, in 1848, in publishing the ‘Prairie Telegraph.’
“Money was very scarce aswell 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 Iwent to Beardstown and published the ‘Beardstown Gazette’ for Judge Emmonsfor two years, and he paid me six dollars every week for my work. I madehim agree to pay my board, so the landlord would not starve me becauseof non-payment of board. The judge was a bachelor and he could not eatcord 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 faciltiesof getting from place to place. The stage coach was our only speedy wayto travel. The river, when not dry, was used for St. Louis as our methodof conveying commerce and transacting the business of the county.”
A Friend of Abraham Lincoln
It was in 1840 that Mr. Randallfirst met Abraham Lincoln and he treasured as one of his priceless mementoesa letter that Lincoln wrote to his father at Rushville telling how he hadbefriended the boy at the state capital. In after years Mr. Randall evercherished a warm spot in his heart for Abraham Lincoln and when as thenation’s executive he made the call for volunteers Mr. Randall was oneamong the many young men from Schuyler who went to the front. He enlistedin the 73d Ill. Vol. and was promoted to the rank of major.
Prominent in ImmigrationWork
In the fall of 1869 Mr. Randallleft Rushville for the west and for thirty years was actively engaged inimmigration work. He was sent as a representative of Nebraska to the CentennialExposition at Philadelphia in 1876 and since that time had officially attendedall national expositions.
Nebraska in 1879 had only28,000 population and the work that Mr. Randall did as immigrant agentfor the old Burlington & Missouri railroad had much to do with therapid settlement of the state in the succeeding ten years and he livedto see Nebraska take rank as one of the wealthy and prosperous agriculturalsections of the country