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of the aged pair numbered fifty-nine; their great-grandchildren have not yet been numbered. His homestead was on Section 28, south of the Grove, and several children settled around him there. The elder Cheney was a man of strong will and great determination; a man of good judgment, but seems to have been very undecided in his earlier days, for he moved frequently. Came with his family once to Illinois and returned; came again, leaving them here, he returned to Ohio, and wrote them to sell out and come back. They did not follow his advice, however, and he returned to Cheney's Grove, and the next boy which was born to him he named Return Jonathan, a name which might well have been given to the father. He had returned, however, for the last time now, for he remained here to see his children grow up around him prosperous and respected. Nearly all of them lived in the county and became well off financially, though most of them died at a less age than he and his estimable wife attained to. He died in 1862, at the age of seventy-seven. His widow surviving him about fifteen years.
Of his children, Thomas and Owen early entered considerable land in Padua, and became important citizens in the early history of that part. The latter died, and the former removed to California.
George and William Haines owned and lived upon large farms in the southern part of this township, where their widows yet reside. Return owned a large farm just south of them, in Belleflower Township, which, a few years since, he sold, and still resides near Saybrook.
Catharine and Rebecca married the brothers, John and Benjamin Prothero, prosperous and successful farmers, who live, the former in Saybrook and the latter on a fine farm south of the Grove.
Mary became Mrs. Stansbery, and lived near the grove on the south, and Emilia, Mrs. Horr, and are both dead. William Haines was elected State Senator for this district to fill the unexpired term of Hon. Isaac Funk, who died while he was in office. He served in an acceptable manner for the single year which he sat in the Senate. His tragic death is too recent and the circumstances too sad to call for reproduction here. He was long one of the best known and most generally respected men in this part of the county.
Probably, next to Jonathan Cheney, in point of fact, though not, perhaps, of date, the man who did most to “settle” Cheney's Grove and make life comfortable here was old Robert Cunningham, who came here from Clarke County, Ind., in 1829, where he had lived twenty years. He had done good service under Harrison in the war of 1812, and was present at the battle of Tippecanoe.
He took up 400 acres of land, rightly judging that his family would want nearly as much as that. He built a log house in the northeast corner, and went to work making a farm with the aid of his boys. Three or four years after (we are sorry the date cannot be accurately established), he built the first and only water grist-mill ever built on the Sangamon River in McLean County. It was a curiosity in its way, and if such a mill could now be exhibited at Bloomington, bolts, bins, stones and all, it would make a larger return of shekels to its owner, at 5 cents a sight, than it would to be run as a merchant-mil). There was probably not a sawed board or stick in it; in fact, no sawing was being done yet in this part of the county. It is evident that sawing was not in demand, or he would have put up a saw-mill instead.
His “kit” of millwright tools to build it consisted of an ax, adz, jackplane, drawing-knife, and, possibly, a jack-knife, hammer and saw. Most of the work was done with the three former-named implements.
The building was of logs, and it is believed he did every bit of the work on it, except raising the logs, himself. The stones were the common prairie bowlders, cut down to get about two-feet face on them. The floors, meal-bins, flume and all other “nice work were puncheons, split out and dressed down to match. The latter did not always " hold water,” and he bad to "dust " it down with gravel, very frequently, to keep the water from running through the widening cracks. The wheel was made out of the same handy puncheons, and the bolting-chest similarly. For a long time, he had no elevator to carry the ground matter up to the bolt, and it was lugged up in the halfbushel and emptied on a platform--the original Saybrook platform, it may be --where a low-priced boy (the older ones had to be kept at work on the farm) sat hour after hour poking the product of the stone into the upper end of the bolt. This was business for the boys, and it will not be doubted when they say they sometimes got very tired of
No smut-machine nor middlings-purifier cumbered up the old mill; but the people esteemed it a decided improvement over pounding their grain in a mortar.
There was sufficient water to run about six months in the year, and, in 1838, he built a saw-mill, with the old-fashioned gate-saw, which, in flush times of water, would go up one minute and down the next. The rainy season of 1844, the stream was too high, during a great portion of the spring and summer, to run the mill, as indeed the long-continued rains prevented almost all labor; planting, tilling and travel were impeded, and it was one of the most discouraging years the old settlers ever knew. Mr. Cunningham continued to run these mills for about fifteen years, and until Mr. Blakesley built the old steam-mill.
Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham were the parents of fifteen children, all of whom grew up, married and had families of their own, though none of them seemed to have been blessed by Providence with the same number. All of them lived around here for a while, and four still live in McLean County. Eleven are still living. The names of these children, ten danghters and five sons, together with the number of children each has been the parent of, are here given, and until some one in McLean County can show a better record, Saybrook will claim the championship for the Cunninghams: Sarah, 12; Phoebe, 6; Anna, 5; Mary, 9; Thomas, 6; Jesse, 3; Abby, 7; Farily, 8; King Solomon, 6 (he had only one wife); Sardelia, 6; Emeline, 4; William E., 8; Jeremiah, 5; Aphia, 5; Robert, 6. Total, 96.
Mrs. Cunningham, in addition to the daily household work and the exacting duties pertaining to maternity, carded, spun and wove the wool which made their daily clothing; brought thus safely through the mumps, measles, whooping-cough, croup, cholera morbus and courting, and lived to the good old age of seventy-five years, without ever losing a child or losing her firm faith in fore-ordination and predestination, which in the central doctrine in the faith of that branch of the Baptist Church of which she was a bright and shining light. It never has been fully understood by mothers of the present day how those old mothers in Israel got along. That they had some strong sustaining aid in the way of sense of duty, and, perhaps, in most cases, the aid of faith in the promises, is more than likely. Indeed, it can hardly he conceived that such an endless round of pressing and exhausting labors, running through nearly
thirty years of woman's life, could be borne without such aid. The sense of duty is one of the strongest, and nerves weak mortality to the most laborious and heroic acts. That which could have driven Mrs. Cunningham to her grave or to destraction was, possibly, to be endured even with joy and pleasure under the incentives of faith, duty and love. Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham were inembers of the Antinomian, or in common parlance, “ Hardshell,” Baptists. Their house was the place of the stated preaching of that sect. Rev. John Darnall, of Indian Grove, was for years the regular preacher here. The membership here was limited, and now seems to have entirely disappeared. It is due to them to say that, at least in their case, none of the absurdities which, by common fame, attached to some of the disciples of this sect were ever acted on by them. While holding to all the doctrines of the sect firmly, they were sensitive to any irregularity of conduct as they could have been had they believed in salvation by works alone.
James, a brother of Robert Cunningham, came here at the same time, and lived with him, or near by, where he lived on Section 27, where James Thompson now resides.
Robert Means came from Kentucky and settled on the Little Vermilion in 1829, The next year, he came to Cheney's Grove and settled north of the Grove, where James Vanscoyoc lives. He had been a soldier in the war of 1812, and again shouldered his musket when the Black Hawk war sent a thrill of fear through these settlements. His first winter bere was the one of the deep snow, when everybody hereabouts had to do their own grinding. He used an old iron wedge for his millstone, and fastened it by a pole to a spring-pole overhead, and utilized the power of his children to drive it. It was a novel experiment, but worked well.
He died in 1835, leaving a widow and ten children with but little means of support; but they were used to work and got along without suffering more than many others. Six of his children now live here-James R., Owen A., David D., Mrs. Ball, Mrs. McMackin and Mrs. Vanscoyoc. The former is a Justice of the Peace and a business man of Saybrook, and has repeatedly held important trusts. He is recognized as a man of strict integrity and very good business habits.
W. H. Riggs came here from Kentucky, in the fall of 1830, just before the snow fell, with his brother-in-law, Henry Pitts. They were on the way to the Wabash, with a drove of hogs, when the deep snow fell, and nearly froze to death on the way back. Their feet and faces were badly frozen, and they considered themselves fortunate in escaping death. They settled on the farm where John Newcomb now lives. Mr. Riggs took a claim on Section 17, and pounded his own corn in a hominy mortar for two months. He was the first Class-leader of the first Methodist class that was formed here. He and his wife had been members of the church in Kentucky, and, coming into the new settlement, resolved to bring their religion with them. His coming here was largely owing to his objections to the institution of slavery, and he did not mean that his children should come up under its influence. He and his wife still live here, and own and occupy a good farm of 200 acres.
Their six children have grown up around them, honored, respected and enterprising citizens. Mr. Pitts traded a horse to Mr. Clark for his claim, and lived on it awhile. Snowden Ball came here from Kentucky, in 1831, at the age of seventeen, and commenced working on a farm. In 1835, he married a daughter of Robert Means. He died in 1873, and left a widow and eight children. Mrs. Ball and three of the children still live on the farm north of the Grove.
His brother, Hilleary Ball, came at the same time, the young men accompanying their uncle, with whom they lived after the death of their father. Mr. Ball was married in 1838 to a daughter of Aaron Hildreth, who was one of the first settlers in Arrowsmith Township. He has been a prosperous farmer, and he and his wife still live here. Five of their children have grown up and live near them.
Ephraim S. Myers, who is now the oldest resident of the township, came to what is now Vermilion County from Kentucky, in 1826, when twenty-five years old. working around awhile, he married, and farmed two or three years, and then, in 1830, came to where he now lives. Only Jonathan Cheney, the Cunninghams, Robert Means, Benjamin Thomas and a Mr. Clark then resided here. He was a hearty, driving, hardworking man, with a constitution like iron, and a disposition to make the most of life. Full of tunes—in fact at the age of seventy-seven they are not all out of him—work, hunting, visiting and other duties were all alike to Uncle Ephraim. He didn't much care which it was, he enjoyed them all. When the deep snow fell, he had just returned home with a quantity of meal for his winter's use; but before the snow was gone he had to pound hominy like the rest of his neighbors. He says he has hunted in every timber grove and on every stream and spring from the Little Vermilion to the Mackinaw, and every species of game known in these paris, from wild-hogs to rattlesnakes. The old settlers never tire of telling of Myers' hunting exploits. He and Cheney went down to what is now called Drummer Grove, to hunt, and took along a dog which bore the name of Drummer. The dog behaved so unreasonably that they killed him; and ever afterward the piece of woodland was called Drummer's Grove, and the township in which it stands took its name from that dog, which, by the way, was not so famous in his life as honored in his untimely death.
Mr. Myers has been twice married, and is the father of twelve children, most of whom are living within a few miles of his home. Every male member of his family, except Ephraim himself, who was old enough to enlist, joined the grand army of the Union, and marched into Dixie to sustain the old flag. Five of his own sons, a stepson and a young man whom he had brought up in the love and admiration of the flag of his country, seven in all, went forth from his roof. One, Jacob, his eldest never returned to tell the story of his trials and triumphs.
He has a fine farm of 500 acres, and thinks he can enjoy what he has accumulated for a few years.
Benjamin Thomas came about the same time to Section 27. He died soon, and his widow continued to live there for some years.
Fielding Lloyd lived early on a portion of the land now occupied by Myers.
Abram Stansbery, one of a large relationship which has numerously settled or grown up here in the eastern part of the county, came here about the same time, and, in 1832, while the fright in regard to the Black Hawk war was at its height, he married a daughter of Jonathan Cheney. A wedding at any time in the new settlement “ caused talk," but this one at a time when it was not known what moment the red-skins might pounce down on them and carry the tomahawk, the scalping-knife and the firebrand through the Grove, caused many remarks. But Abram's faith was strong, and answered all by quoting the slightly changed apostolic injunction, “ Better to marry than to enlist.”
At this time, only one house—that of Father Newcombeighteen miles away, stood between here and Urbana, at Newcomb's Ford. Mr.
Stansbery died leaving two grown children and a considerable estate. Edward Stansbery came here from East Tennessee in 1833. With the neighbors' help, they fixed up their little cabin and got to living before winter set in, but the next year they all had the ague so badly that they could not do anything.
He entered the land he had a claim on in 1835, in Section 20, and sold this and bought another. He died in 1860. His son, W. K., for a long time and still Postmaster at Saybrook, was thirteen years old when he came-just the right age to be very thoroughly impressed with matters, and with a good memory, his assistance kindly furnished to the writer of this sketch is hereby gratefully acknowledged. Mr. Edward Stansbery was for more than fifty years a firm and consistent member of the Methodist Church; was one of its earliest promoters here. Of his seven children, only two remain here—one son and one daughter. He was a very small man in stature, but large in manliness, abounding in faith and good works. His brother Ezekiel came here at the same time and settled on Section 19. He had a good farm of 120 acres. He died there leaving nine children, two of whom still remain here. E. K. Stansbery had a chance of schooling such as was to be found in the Grove at that time, and made good use of it.
The first schoolhouse was built in 1832, between where the mill and the cemetery now are; indeed, this schoolhouse and cemetery were the “first beginnings” of Saybrook. A Mr. Rowland taught school, and a Mr. Harbison followed him. The school was run by subscription. The teacher and some of the citizens carried a subscription-paper around, and such as felt able subscribed for more children's schooling at $2 per term. The attendance upon school was not limited to the scholars subscribed for, but the teacher would not undertake the school unless a sufficient number of subscriptions were made to pay him for his services. While lame William Johnson was teaching, the schoolhouse burned down, and his school was transferred to a vacant house of Mr. Cheney's during the remainder of the term. A schoolhouse was then built one mile west of the present Saybrook, which also burned, when one was built a mile and a half east, which soon became a third scholastic feast for the “devouring flames.” Just why all these “ cool retreats ” of learning thus burned is not known unless it is found in the fact that the youths here had such a “ burning desire" for education that the buildings themselves caught the enthusiasm and went up in smoke.
Isaac, another of the numerous name of Stansbery came to the Grove in 1836, and commenced farming on his brother Abram's place, and has lived to see nine of his teu children grow up to manhood and womanhood, most of whom settled near him. His son Isaac gave his life to his country, and died at Milliken's Bend.
Otha Owen came here an orphan boy of eleven with his Uncle Elias in September, 1834, who settled and took a farm on Section 35, south of the Grove and near the river. He died in 1862. Otha lived with him eleven years, went to school at the old log schoolhouse near the cemetery until it burned and followed the fortunes of the others. He well remembers the “sudden change" in 1836. His uncle was away and his aunt kept him home from school to dig a trench around the barn to keep the water and slush from running into the stable. When the "change" struck him, he bethought bimself to cut the night's wood. The cold was so intense that he could only remain at the wood-pile about three minutes at a time; but the wood had to be cut, or the family would certainly freeze to death before morning. It was a lively time for the lad, and the