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Vermilion County, Illinois Genealogy and History. Elizabeth McDonald Harmon have both been credited with the distinction of being the first white child born in Vermilion County, in the same historical volume, but as the date of each birth is easily found, there need be no disagreement in regard to the matter. James O'Neal was born April 20, It was the year before this that the parents of this child came to Vermilion County, and the father took up a farm on what later was known as the Caraway farm near Brooks Point.
He lived on this farm for three years and then moved to the eighty acres of land he had entered on the Big Vermilion. It was during the time the family lived near Brooks Point that James was born - the first white child to see the light of day in Vermilion County. O'Neal had a tan yard and made shoes for himself and family and leather for the moccasins the Indians wanted.
James O'Neal grew up in the midst of wild life; his companions were the Indians and his associates the other boys of pioneer families who occasionally came into his life. He was skilled in all the arts of hunting and trapping, and he well knew the habits of the wild animals which were so plentiful in the timber about him. As soon as he was old enough, he went to work for himself finding employment in the mill on the Vermilion river afterward called the old Kyger mill.
O'Neal lived all his life in Vermilion County. She was born August 16,on her fathers' farm home in Carroll township, near Georgetown, and claimed to be the first white child born in Vermilion County. She received a common school education in the nearby country schoolhouse.
She was married in to Hardy Wallace Hill M. In a scourge of cholera visited this city and Dr. Hill, through his professional duties, fell a victim. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Hill came back to her father's Illinois home, bringing her little daughter, Eleanor, with her. Six months later her other daughter, Lillian, was born. A few years afterward she took her two children to her uncle Cunningham's home in Danville, where she lived until the time of her marriage to Mr.
Harmon, on February 22, Harmon was again widowed after ten years by the death of her husband, then Colonel Harmon.
They were the parents of three daughters and one son, who died soon after his father. Lucy, the oldest daughter, became the wife of Rev. McPherson, Fannie, the next daughter, became the wife of Frank Brooks, and after his death of Corinne, the youngest child, died unmarried in Harmon made her home in Danville after the death of Colonel Harmon untilwhen she removed to Chicago. From that time on she divided her time among her three daughters, one of the Pacific coast, another in the middle west, and the third near the Atlantic seaboard.
Her oldest daughter, Eleanor, became the wife of Mr. Short, and the second daughter died inshortly before her promised marriage with Mr. Nelson Kimball of Danville. Harmon was somewhat of an invalid the most of her life up to middle life, but in later years she enjoyed good health and lived to the ripe age of eighty-two and a half years, and "fell asleep" in her daughter's New Jersey home on February 9, Her father was a native of Virginia and married a girl of Pennsylvania. They came to Vermilion County insettling in Carroll township. He secured a farm which he developed, and built a mill, but had little success at running it.
His daughter Mary, the second child, so far as known, to be born in Vermilion County, grew to womanhood under the conditions of pioneer life. She was of good disposition, and patiently endured all hardships. When she was eighteen years old she became the wife of Elijah Patterson, whose home had always been in Ohio. Although he had apparently settled in Vermilion County and was a citizen of Illinois, after his marriage, he moved back to Ohio.
But he returned to Illinois after twelve or thirteen years, and lived in Carroll township until his death in Patterson was the mother of ten children. She spent her last days in plenty and comfort at the same place where she first saw the light of day. She had a long life of usefulness and made many devoted friends whose pleasure it was to care for her in her latter years.
John P. Swank was born in Indianola, December 18, Swank's parents came to Vermilion County at a very early date, being among the earliest pioneers.
They were Ohio people and they came to Carroll township. Swank had three brothers and four sisters, and a family of that size had much to make life happy, even if the luxuries of older communities were missing. Swank was born on a farm and spent his life as a farmer. He married Miss Phoebe Dickson of Indianola. They were the parents of five children.
Swank died inleaving many friends to mourn his loss. He was buried at Woodlawn cemetery, Indianola. Perry O'Neal was born January 16,on the homestead in section Georgetown township. O'Neal lived all his life in Vermilion County, and was a citizen such as makes the best of any section. James Stevens was born on his father's farm on section 9, near Brooks Point, in Georgetown township, Vermilion County, January 5,and there spent the first years of his life.
He went to the subscription schools which were "kept" in the log house with a puncheon floor, seats and desks of slabs, greased paper for window glass, and whatever else was considered necessary to a pioneer schoolhouse. When he was a boy, the nearest mill was at Terre Haute, Indiana. He had to take his turn going with the bag of grain. There were but two wagons in the neighborhood of a radius of ten miles, and each farmer would send a bag of grain and two men would go along to attend to the grist.
Later a mill was established within a half mile of the Stevens home and was considered a great convenience. Stevens married Miss Elizabeth Roundtree in She lived in Indiana near Crawfordsville, and he made her acquaintance while teaching school. He had great success as a school teacher, and he was later offered a professorship in a college in Missouri, but because of the approaching war, declined it that he might go in the service.
Upon the call for 75, men, he raised a company in and about Catlin. Stevens always took a great interest in all educational matters and was well posted in public affairs. Dorman B. Douglass was born in Danville township, October II, His mother and father were one of the two couples who were married first in Vermilion County.
Annis Butler, the daughter of James Butler and Marcus Snow, were married first by Squire Treat at Denmark he was justice of the peace while the territory was yet attached to Edgar County and Cyrus Douglass and Ruby Bloss were married immediately afterward.
They lived about three miles south of Danville, where he lived until in he moved to Fairmount. Douglass lives at a little distance north of Danville and himself is an open book of history of Vermilion County. He remembers the stretches of forest and unbroken prairie, the log cabin homes, and the little huddles of houses which stood on the sites of the flourishing towns and cities.
He remembers as well the flourishing towns which were promising seventy years ago, and now are hardly visible. He can remember Danville when it contained but three stores, and Denmark when it was a very promising town. He went to school in a room which was heated by a great fireplace extending across one end of the house. Like the other boys, he sat on slab benches and conned his lessons in an audible tone. As soon as he was able to handle a plow he went to work in the field and thereafter was always busy.
The first plow he used was a wooden mould board, and he drove a single line harness, and he did his harvesting with a reap hook. After turning the furrow, the girls of the family dropped the corn by hand. In Mr. Douglass went to the gold fields of the west, living away for three years.
Coming back, he went to New York by boat and crossed the land to Vermilion County. Douglass made that long trip crossing the continent going over the plains of Idaho and Montana, remaining about two and a half years. Douglass remembers well the first matches he ever saw.
He remembers how the women did all the carding and weaving and spinning of the cloth, as well as sewing of the garments. He has seen the whole family go two or more miles to church, walking all the way, the girls carrying their shoes to the church door to put them on and remove them when they started for home. Douglass married Miss Anna Downing. Her parents came from Virginia and Kentucky, stopping a time in Indiana. She was born in Kentucky. Douglass was the father of five children, and twelve grandchildren and more. Douglass has lived through a wonderful period and his experiences have been many, and the tales he is able to tell are of intense interest.
He has made trips down the Mississippi river when the sale of human beings on the public streets was a common occurrence. Twice he has crossed the plains behind ox teams, and now he sees steam and even electricity crowd the oxen out.
He has a valuable property and is a man whose every want is supplied. In appearance he impresses one with his varied experience by a manner of having lived a life worth the while. He is a man of exceptional pleasing address and is a gentleman of the old school. She was the daughter of Ira Mills, one of the pioneers of the county. Ira Mills came to Vermilion County in and located two miles west of Vermilion Grove on what was later known as the great Mills farm, and which has remained in the possession of the family ever since. Rhoda Mills was very industrious, as became a daughter of a well ordered family, and during her days of young womanhood made use of the education she had received in the Georgetown school ; she herself became a school teacher and helped her family.
Her parents were of the community of Friends, and in she became the wife of John Hester, a young man of the same faith. He was a farmer and accumulated a good property. Hester was the mother of six children. Hester was widowed in by the death of her husband and she moved from the farm to Ridge Farm. Her later life was a reward for the early days of patient forbearance and industry; for careful consideration of others pleasure, and straightforwardness of purpose. His father, Marcus Snow, and his mother, Annis Butler, were one of two couples who were married in Vermilion County, the first wedding had in the county.
Annis Butler was the daughter of James Butler, the man who made the first settlement in Vermilion County after the salt works. When James Butler went back to Ohio for his family, he found that his neighbors would not share the wilds of the new country with him, but he was not obliged to come on entirely alone, for young Snow wanted to come and he drove one of the teams. Nothing was more natural than that he should become a suitor for Mr.
Butler's daughter Annis perhaps he had already selected her before he left Ohio and that they should be married and begin their new life near the home of her father. When Marcus Snow and Annis Butler were married they settled at where Westville now stands, but lived there only a few years, going thence to Catlin township, locating on land which was situated on the state road.
Here Marcus Snow and his wife prospered and spent their married life; here the boy Abner grew into youth with its dreams and manhood with its cares. Here the elder Snow died and after a time, the wife of Cyrus Douglass having died. Snow became the wife of Mr. Abner Snow lived his life in Vermilion County, a prosperous farmer and a contented citizen. He married Miss Ashman and became the father of five children, to all of whom he was able to give a start in life.
Samuel P. LeNeve is the oldest son of John and Rebecca Newell LeNeve, and together with his brothers and sisters, form worthy sons and daughters of Vermilion County. Samuel Perry LeNeve was born in and spent the days of his boyhood and youth in Newell township on the home place. He spent his winters in school, as good as could be found in the schoolhouses of that period. The extravagance of the present school buildings and furnishings seems unreasonable when a comparison is made between them and those of even this period when it was thought a schoolhouse of any kind was good enough.
The schoolhouse in Newell township where Samuel LeNeve and his brothers and sisters for some years went, had benches made by sawing off the logs and driving pins in for legs.First time dating Indianola Illinois
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