Make your own free website on Tripod.com

EARLY SETTLERS OF DE WITT COUNTY

Names In Alpha Order

Darius Hall

Born in Bourbon county, Kentucky, October 25, 1799. Came to Vermillion county, in this state, 
in November, 1829, and remained there during the winter.  In March, 1830, he removed to 
Buckle's Grove (now Leroy), where he made a claim, grubbed up three acres of ground and planted
it in corn.  He remained there one year and then moved into Barnett township, seven, miles west 
of Clinton, into what was then called the Coppenbarger settlements His nearest neighbors were 
Elisha Butler, Jacob and John Coppenbarger.  There was then only one house. between the 
Coppenbarger settlement and Buckle's Grove -- that of Joseph Clifton, who lived on what is now 
known as the Paschall Mills farm, one mile west of Clinton.  Mr. Hall settled down on the 
prairie, and his father (who moved in in the fall of 1830) gave him forty acres of timber.  He 
put up a log house, "chinked" up the cracks, but had no "daubing." Here he raised enough corn 
to keep his family and a little to sell to new comers, but there was no market for any surplus
grain and as a consequence the early settlers did not put in very much time in cultivating 
their farms.  Pekin was the nearest grain market, and it took three days to make the round trip 
there, and then they got only 31 cents for wheat and 10 cents for corn.  It took eighteen days 
to make the round trip to Chicago, which city was then composed of a fort and two stores. There 
was considerable of a settlement about Waynesville, and a man named Greenman had opened a store
there, where a few necessary articles could be procured., Game was plenty, the country 
abounding in deer, turkeys, quails, prairie chickens etc.  Mr. Hall says his house was not 
without a supply of venison for twenty years.  Four of them netted thirty-two hundred quails 
one winter and took them to St. Louis and sold them.  With two nots they caught four hundred in 
one day. 

There were but few Indians in the country at that time, and they belonged to the Kickapoo tribe.
The government removed them all in 1832.  The deep snow of 1830 and 31 commenced about a week 
before Christmas, and it snowed off and on until the lst of March.  The snow was three feet 
deep on the level, and in some places drifted as high as 25 feet, and caused great inconvenience
to the settlers, who could not take their corn to the little band mills to have it ground, and 
had to pound their corn in hominy mills in order to make bread.  

Mr. Hail says that for one month and a half he saw no one but one family, who lived only a 
quarter of a mile away.  They had no groceries, and lived entirely on pounded corn and game.  
His wife was sick with the ague all winter, but neither doctor nor medicine could be procured, 
the nearest doctor being at Bloomington.  Three families lived in a little log house on Fork 
Prairie, northwest of G. B. Lemen's and came near starving.  The women saw no one but their own 
household for about three months.  The people were very kind and neighborly in those days, and 
did all they could to aid one another. When Mr. Buckles raised his house at Leroy, a number of 
persons came from Lake Fork, below Mt. Pulaski, and helped in the work.  

Mr. Hall married Mary Jones in Kentucky in 1819, and when he came to this country they had five
children.  He was elected constable in 1831, and served as Deputy Sheriff under Pool for two 
years.  He is at present a citizen of Clinton, and has been for fifteen years.


Sylvanus Shurtleff

Son of Oliver and Polly Shurtleff, was born in Isle of Mott, Grand Isle county, Vermont, in 
1811.  In 1813 his family removed to the state of New York, and in 1815 to Marietta, Ohio.
In 1822 his step-father, Ezra Knapp, mother, himself and two or three families, left Hamilton, 
Ohio, in a keel-boat and proceeded by way of the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers to 
Peoria, Illinois.  His mother and the Robinson family died on the voyage.  Peoria at that time 
was called Fort Clark, and there were then but seven men in the settlement outside of the 
fort--Abner Eads, his father-in-law Fulton, lawyer Bogardus and family, Ozier the government 
interpreter and gunsmith, the widow Weed and son, Fish, and French, and these were scattered 
up and down the river for a distance of ten miles.  Shurtleff seemed, when a boy, to be of
a roving disposition and spent much of his time among the Indians, with whom he became a great 
favorite, and in 1823 he was initiated as a member of the tribe of Pottawattamies and adopted
as a son by Shabona, the chief, who had a life-guard of 144 of the largest men of the tribe.  
The headquarters of the tribe were then about fifteen miles above Peoria.  Shurtleff remained 
with the Indians for about a year after his initiation, when he was captured and taken home by 
his brother Lorenzo.  His brother took him to his relations in Indianapolis, by way of 
Blooming-grove (now Bloomington), Sangamon town, Sadorus, Linn Grove, Little Wabash, passing 
through between Decatur and Clinton.  At that time there was an Indian trading house at the 
mouth of Friend's Creek, in Macon county.  In 1827 Shurtleff came to Waynesville (then called 
Big Grove), where he found Ezra Knapp, his step-father, John Barr, James Barr, Prettyman 
Marvel, the Lundys, Edom and Zion Sugars, Abram Onstott, Samuel P. Glenn, Hiram Chapin, 
Benjamin Day, Timothy and Samuel Hoblett, the Lanes, Samuel Curtwright, Spencer, two families 
of Scotts and Benj. Shipley.  Sugars built a mill on Kickapoo creek, now called Bushnell's 
mill.  In the fall of 1828 Shurtleff, Benjamin Day and William Branson started from Waynesville 
on a bee and game hunt.  They went southeast, crossed Ten-mile creek, passed over the north 
part of what is now the site of Clinton, through the prairie down to the junction of North Fork 
and Salt Creeks, where Smallwood's mill was afterward erected, and where they camped out over 
night. While passing over what is Alexander Argo's farm they met five Indians, one of whom was 
carrying a coon.  They called themselves Pottawottamies, but Shurtleff told them they were 
Kickapoos, when they acknowledged their nationality and laughed at being found out.  Shurtleff 
and his companions went as far as what is now called North Fork prairie, when they returned,
after a not very successful hunt.  At that time there was no house east of the Waynesville 
settlement in this county, and the highest settlement on Salt Creek was at Mt. Pulaski, where 
a man named Loughery had settled. The settlers at Waynesville came from Sangamon, following 
the streams upward, and for a number of years all emigration into this county came in from 
Sangamon, and it is a little curious that the settlement of this county commenced in the West 
and spread eastward.  After the discovery of the prairie on North Fork, that portion of the 
county commenced filling up, and before the snow in 1830 Benjamin Lisenby, Mulchy and Tobias 
Danner had settled on Salt Creek.  Tobias Danner was of the same Danner family that starved to 
death in 1846.  Mr. Shurtleff says the Indians gave Salt creek its name because they at one 
time made salt on its banks.  In the winter of 1827-28 Shurtleff went to Chicago with the first 
drove of hogs ever taken there from Kickapoo creek. The hogs were owned by Gardner Randolph.  
It took three weeks to drive the hogs through.  A team accompanied the drove to carry 
provisions.  Chicago (then Fort Dearborn) was then nothing but a fort and trading post.  The 
party staid there until Spring, slaughtering the hogs as they had opportunity of disposing
of them.  Mr. Shurtleff went back to Indiana in the fall of 1828 and did not return to Illinois 
until 1833, when he located at Marion, in what was then Macon county. He married Elizabeth Ann 
Day, daughter of Benjamin and Catherine Day, June 4th, 1835.  He owned considerable land around 
Marion and was greatly interested in its growth.  In 1838 he drew up a petition to the 
legislature for the creation of De Witt county, running west as far as the present county line 
and east into what is now Piatt county.  He took the petition to Bloomington and had a number 
of copies printed, some of which he handed to Col. Gridley, Miller and Fell, who were then 
owners of the new town of Clinton.  They promised him their co-operation in circulating the 
petition, but after he had gone they had another petition printed which took in another tier 
of townships west, they being interested in throwing Clinton near the middle of the county, 
and so get the county seat, while Shurtleff was trying to get the county seat at Marion.  
Shurtleff claims that Gridley and others got possession of all the petitions and cut the
heads off of his and pasted the heads of theirs on, thus making all the petitions agree.  But 
Logan county was formed first and took off all the western tier of townships in Gridley's 
petition except "four by six" (now Atlanta township, Logan county).  In May, 1839, the election 
for county seat was held and resulted in favor of Clinton, thus dashing Shurtleff hopes to the 
ground, and virtually breaking him up, for he had spent considerable sums of money in trying to 
get the county seat located at Marion.  In 1844 he went to Missouri and engaged in mining, and 
returned in 1847.  In 1849 he went to California and was gone sixteen months. Went back to
California, in winter of 1852 and returned to Marion in 1854; intended to return in 1853, but 
had $1850 stolen from him, so he had to stay another year.  In 1859 went to Pike's Peak.  In 
1862 again went to California in company with John W. Day, by way of New York and the Isthmus; 
staid there two years. Went to California again in 1868 and staid seven or eight months.  Since
then has resided in Clinton.  Although sixty-five years old, Mr. Shurtleff is yet vigorous, and 
intends going to the Black Hills next month.
DWCGSQ: Home Page: