History of Cass County, Illinois

After several months of laborious research and persistent toil, the history of Cass County is completed, and it is our hope and belief that no subject of general importance or interest has been overlooked or omitted, and even minor facts, when of sufficient note to be worthy of record, have been faithfully chronicled. In short, where protracted investigation promised results commensurate with the undertaking, matters not only of undoubted record but legendary lore, have been brought into requisition. We are well aware of the fact that it is next to impossible to furnish a perfect history from the meager resources at the command of the historian under ordinary circumstances, but claim to have prepared a work fully up to the standard of our engagements. Through the courtesy and assistance generously afforded by the residents of Cass, we have been enabled to trace out and put into systematic shape the greater portions of the events that have transpired in the county, up to the present time, and we feel assured that all thoughtful persons interested in the matter will recognize and appreciate the importance of the work and its permanent value.

A dry statement of facts has been avoided, so far as it was possible to do so, and anecdote and incident has been interwoven with plain recital and statistics, thereby forming a narrative at once instructive and entertaining.


Table of Contents.


CHAPTER I. — Cass County — Early Notes on Illinois — The French Travelers and Explorers — The Indians - Wars of the Iroquois and Kickapoos — Legend of Monsoela — Different Owners of Illinois — Beardstown Mound — Purchase of the Country from the Indians — Miscellaneous, etc... 11

CHAPTER II. — Settlements of the Country Not Included in Cass County — Some of the Pioneers and Where They Settled — The Sangamo Country — Its Fertility — Prairie. Schooners — First Land Entry— Beard's Ferry — Beard & Marsh's Entry of Land — First Settlers of Beardstown — Deed of Defeasance — Going to Egypt for Corn — Arrival of Other Settlers — The Entry of Land, etc... 18

CHAPTER III. — Increase of Population — The Deep Snow of 1830 — The Black Hawk War — Rendezvous of Soldiers at Beardstown - Cause of Dr. Chandler's Settlement — Meeting Between Him and Abraham Lincoln — Business of Beardstown in 18St — The Early Log Cabins — Yankees and Yankee Tricks — Corn Bread, etc... 25

CHAPTER IV. — Organization of Cass County — The Convention at Rushville — Legislative Act Creating the County — Other Acts — First Election for Officers — The Number of Voters — An Incident of aWolf — The Cold Day of 1837— Location of the County Seat - Scarcity of Money — The County Machinery Put in Motion - The Coturts — Trouble from Horse Thieves - Eugene Honorius — The Census, etc... 36

CHAPTER V. — Fertile Lands of Cass — Its Geological Formations - Coal Measures — Different Deposits — Coal — Building Stone — Legislative Representatives from Cass County — Principal County Officers Since Formation — Illinois River Items, etc... 52

CHAPTER VI. — Agriculture of Cass County — Farming in the Primitive Tunes — Improved Farm Implements — Agricultural Fairs and Associations— Lists of Officers — Cass County Park Association — Its Organization, etc. — Fine Stock of the County — Short Horn Herds, etc. — The Railroads, etc... 66

CHAPTER VII. — Virginia Precinct - Description, Boundaries and Topography — Wes-tern Pioneer Life — Settlement of the Precinct by White People — Character of the Pioneers — Their Trials, Troubles and Hardships — Early Improvements and Industries — Roads, Bridges, etc — Schools — The First School-houses - Early Teachers — Present Educational Facilities - Churches and Preachers — Old Shiloh Church — Miscellaneous, etc... 72

CHAPTER VIII. — City of Virginia — Its Birth, Location and Growth — Sale of Lots, and Additions to the Town — Dr. Hall, Founder of Virginia — First House and Store - Public Square and Court House — Business in the West End — The Present Business Center — Hotels, Mills, etc. — Doctors and Lawyers — Banking Business — Incorporation of the City — Municipal Offices — Summary, etc... 79

CHAPTER IX. — Virginia — Its Growth and Development as a City — The Era of Railroads — Project of Building the Illinois River Railroad — The Ohio and Mississippi, etc. — Newspapers of Virginia — First Paper Established in the Town — The Present City Press — Court Houses and the County Seat Question — The Jail — Miscellaneous, etc... 91

C H APTER X. — Virginia — Religious History — First Churches and Preachers — The Different Denominations and Their Temples of Worship — Sunday Schools, etc. — Educational — The Early Schools of Virginia — Pioneer Teachers — The Public Schools — C P. College — War History — Secret and Benevolent Institutions, etc... 97

CHAPTER XI. — Beardstown — City and Precinct — Laying Out of the Town — Its Location — Organization — First Officers — The County Seat Question — Churches — Schools — The Press — Railroads — The Professions - Early Settlers — Business Interests — War Record, etc... 108

CHAPTER XII.— Chandlerville Precinct — Topographical Features — Pioneer Times — Early Families - Educational — Societies — Mills — Village of Chandlerville... 122

CHAPTER XIII. — Ashland Precinct — Physical Features — Early Settlers — Pioneer Times — Schools and Churches - The Village of Ashland... 133

CHAPTER XIV. — Arenzville Precinct — Its Early History — The Three Mile Territory — Early Residence of the Settlers - Emigrants from Germany — School-houses and Churches in the School Districts — The Village of Arenzville — First Lots Surveyed — Business of the Town — Churches and School-houses in the Villages — Some of the Prominent Men of the Time — Francis Arenz, John L Cire, Dr. George Engelbach, and Others — Miscellaneous, etc... 143

CHAPTER XV. — Princeton Precinct — General Description - Boundaries. Topography and Surface Features — The Early Settlement — Pioneer Hardships— First Mill, and other Improvements — Walnut Grove School-house — Present Schools — Churches — Old Princeton, and its Business Enterprise — Little Indian Village... 155

CHAPTER XVI. — Richmond Precincts - Physical Features — Indians — Pioneer Times — Early Settlers — Schools, Churches and Stores... 160

CHAPTER XVII. — Philadelphia Precinct - Descriptive — Topography and Physical Features — Organization as a Precinct - The Settlement of the Whites — Their Life on the Frontier — Pioneer Improvements - Churches, Schools, etc. — Philadelphia and Lancaster — A Lost City, etc... 166

CHAPTER XVIII.— Monroe Precinct — Description — Physical Features — Settlement and Pioneer Times — Growth and Improvement — Churches, Schools, etc... 170

CHAPTER XIX. — Oregon Precinct — Description and Settlement — Pioneer Life — Indians — Churches and Schools... 178

CHAPTER XX. — Hickory Precinct — Physical Features - First Settlement and Subsequent Growth — Progress of Industries and Improvements — Churches and Schools... 183



Biographical Sketches.

Virginia — City and Precinct... 193
Beardstown — City and Precinct... 227
Chandlerville Precinct... 281
Ashland Precinct... 303
Arenzville Precinct... 313
Indian Creek Precinct... 324
Princeton Precinct... 327
Richmond Precinct... 330
Philadelphia Precinct... 337
Monroe Precinct... 340
Oregon Precinct... 347
Hickory Precinct... 355


List of Portraits.

Arenz, J.A... 45
Boone, N.H... 79
Brauer, Frederick... 135
Campbell, William... 207
Carr, David... 189
Chandler, Charles... 63
Cire, L.J... 315
Crum, James... 153
Decker, John... 117
Engelbach, Herman... 243
Leeper, W.D... 351
Linn, William... 333
Lohmann, Frank... 261
Nollsch, Gottlieb... 297
Petefish, S.H... 81
Shaw, J. Henry... 27
Skiles, Ignatius... 99
Tureman, J.H... 171
Wagner, David... 225


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Illinois dates its white settlements among the first in North America. Four years prior to the settlement of Plymouth, Le Baron had explored Upper Canada, and twenty years later the hardy and ambitious French traders and voyageurs and zealous missionaries had erected trading posts and missions along the rivers and upon the lake shores, now within the jurisdiction of Illinois and Wisconsin.

At that period the surface of Illinois was much lower, geologically considered, than it is at the present time. Since its creation, the thin crust of the earth has been undergoing slow mutations, breathing, as it were, by centuries, elevating and depressing in the lapse of ages under the influence of its mighty lungs of fire, sinking slowly and imperceptibly beneath their former level continents and islands, and as gradually raising others above the waste of waters.