Trials of the first slave freed by Abraham Lincoln

This is a slightly revised version of one of our “From the Local History Room” columns that first appeared in May 2015 before the launch of this weblog, republished here as a part of our Illinois Bicentennial Series on early Illinois history.

Trials of the first slave freed by Abraham Lincoln

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Three years ago a book was published about a little known episode and an all-but-forgotten individual in Pekin’s history – an episode that helped confirm Illinois as a free state. The book was among the publications honored at the 2015 annual awards luncheon of the Illinois State Historical Society held April 25, 2015, at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Entitled “Nance: Trials of the First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln – A True Story of Nance Legins-Costley,” it was written by local historian Carl M. Adams and illustrated by Lani Johnson of Honolulu, Hawaii. Adams, formerly of Pekin, then resided in Germany (but now is in Maryland), and was unable to attend the awards banquet in Springfield, so he asked his friend Bill Maddox, a retired Pekin police office and former city councilman, to receive the award on his behalf. Maddox is one of Adams’ collaborators and over the years has helped Adams in organizing his research.

Russell Lewis, former president of the Illinois State Historical Society, is shown with Bill Maddox of Pekin, following ceremony on April 25, 2015 in Springfield. At the ceremony, Maddox received an award on behalf on Carl Adams, whose book on Nance Legins-Costley was among those honored that day. PHOTO BY PEKIN PUBLIC LIBRARY ASSISTANT JARED OLAR

Carl Adams, author of “Nance: Trials of the First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln – A True Story of Nance Legins-Costley.” IMAGE PROVIDED BY CARL ADAMS

Adams has previously published two papers on the same subject: “The First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln: A Biographical Sketch of Nance Legins (Cox-Cromwell) Costley (circa 1813-1873),” which appeared in the Autumn 1999 issue of “For the People,” newsletter of the Abraham Lincoln Association; and, “Lincoln’s First Freed Slave: A Review of Bailey v. Cromwell, 1841,” which appeared in The Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, vol. 101, no. 3/4, Fall-Winter 2008. In contrast to those papers, however, Adams’ 87-page book “Nance” distills the fruit of his many years of historical research, presenting Nance’s story in the form of a biography suitable for a middle-school audience and ideal for a junior high or middle school classroom.

Though Nance’s story is little known today, during and after her own lifetime her struggles to secure her freedom were well known in Pekin, and Nance herself came to be a well regarded member of the community. As this column had previously discussed (Pekin Daily Times, Feb. 11, 2012), Nance obtained her freedom as a result of the Illinois Supreme Court case Bailey v. Cromwell, which Abraham Lincoln argued before Justice Sidney Breese on July 23, 1841. It was the culmination of Nance’s third attempt in Illinois courts to secure her liberty, and it resulted in a declaration that she was a free person because documentation had never been supplied proving her to have been a slave or to have agreed to a contract of indentured servitude. Breese’s ruling is also significant in Illinois history for definitively settling that Illinois was a free state where slavery was illegal.

IMAGE PROVIDED BY CARL ADAMS

Another significant aspect of this case is indicated in an 1881 quote from Congressman Isaac Arnold that Adams includes in his book. Arnold wrote, “This was probably the first time he [Lincoln] gave to these grave questions [on slavery] so full and elaborate an investigation . . . it is not improbable that the study of this case deepened and developed the antislavery convictions of his just and generous mind.”

Pekin’s pioneer historian William H. Bates was also opposed to slavery and deeply admired Lincoln. Bates also knew Nance Legins-Costley, and, five years after Lincoln’s assassination, Bates made sure to include her in his first published history of Pekin, the historical sketch that Bates wrote and included in the 1870-71 Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory, page 10. There we find a paragraph with the heading, “A Relic of a Past Age”:

“With the arrival of Maj. Cromwell, the head of the company that afterwards purchased the land upon which Pekin is built, came a slave. That slave still lives in Pekin and is now known, as she has been known for nearly half a century, by the citizens of Pekin, as ‘Black Nancy.’ She came here a chattle (sic), with ‘no rights that a white man was bound to respect.’ For more than forty years she has been known here as a ‘negro’ upon whom there was no discount, and her presence and services have been indispensible (sic) on many a select occasion. But she has outlived the era of barbarism, and now, in her still vigorous old age, she sees her race disenthralled; the chains that bound them forever broken, their equality before the law everywhere recognized and her own children enjoying the elective franchise. A chapter in the history of a slave and in the progress of a nation.”

Remarkably, Bates doesn’t mention how Nance obtained her freedom, nor does he mention Lincoln’s role in her story. He doesn’t even tell us her surname. That’s because the details were then well-known to his readers. Later, her case would get a passing mention in the 1949 Pekin Centenary, while the 1974 Pekin Sesquicentennial would provide a more extended treatment of the case. But in none of the standard publications on Pekin history is personal information on Nance and her family included.

“What I did figure out,” Adams said in an email, “was that all the stories of Nance were positive up until the race riots in Chicago in 1918-1919 followed by a rebirth of the Klan in Illinois, and stories of Nance and her family disappeared, before the age of radio and TV.”

Since she had been forgotten and scant information was available in the standard reference works on Pekin’s history, Adams had to scan old census records, court files, coroner’s reports and newspaper articles to reconstruct the story of Nance’s life and the genealogy of her family. He learned that Nance was born about 1813, the daughter of African-American slaves named Randol and Anachy Legins, and that she married a free black named Benjamin Costley. Nance and Ben and their children appear in the U.S. Census for Pekin in 1850, 1860, 1870, and even 1880 (though the 1880 census entry is evidently fictitious). The 1870-71 Pekin City Directory shows Benjamin Costley residing at the southwest corner of Amanda and Somerset up in the northwest corner of Pekin. Perhaps not surprisingly, Ben and Nance’s log cabin was adjacent to the old Bailey Estate, the land of Nance’s last master, David Bailey, one of the principals of the 1841 case in which Nance won her freedom.

On this detail from an 1872 map of Pekin, from the 1873 “Atlas Map of Tazewell County,” a star indicates the location of the home of Benjamin Costley and Nance Legins-Costley and their children.

In his email, Adams explains the challenge of “writing about the first slave freed by Lincoln, when no one even knows her last name. OK. How does one do that? Genealogy. It is close to impossible to trace the genealogy of a slave. Now what? Trace the genealogy of the people who claimed to own her soul. It took six genealogies minimum to figure out where Nance was and when back to the time of her birth. I did what Woodward and Bernstein did with ‘All the President’s Men’ – follow the money and the paper trail that followed the money, that’s how.”

Telling of how he became interested in Nance’s story and how he eventually came to write his book, Adams said, “In 1994 my wife was diagnosed with cancer. I was unemployed, and in debt and depressed because of all this. To distract my self-pity, I took an interest in Nance and slavery – who could be worse off than they? I tried free-lance writing, but in Greater Peoria, I couldn’t make a living at it. So research on a totally new story about A. Lincoln had to be a part-time, part-time, part-time ‘hobby,’ as my wife called it. That is why it took so long: five years of research packed into a 15-year period.”

“Nance deserves her place in history because of what she did, not what the others did,” Adam said. “At the auction on July 12, 1827, she just said ‘No.’ By indentured servitude law, the indenture was supposed to ‘voluntarily’ agree to a contract to serve. When Nathan Cromwell asked if she would agree to serve him she just said ‘no,’ which led to a long list of consequences and further legal issues in court.

“What makes her historically important was when she managed to get to the Supreme Court twice. In my history fact-check only Dred Scott had managed to do that and he lost. Then I discovered with primary source material that Nance had actually made it to the Supreme Court three times. The third time was never published nor handed down as a court opinion when the judge found out she was a minor just before age 14. This was truly phenomenal, unprecedented and fantastic for that period of history.”

As Ida Tarbell said of Nance in 1902, “She had declared herself to be free.”

Adams’ book may be previewed and purchased on Amazon.com or through the website www.nancebook.com.

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Bill Costley — Pekin’s link to ‘Juneteenth’

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in June 2015 before the launch of this weblog.

Bill Costley — Pekin’s link to ‘Juneteenth’

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

On May 2, 2015, this column featured a review of a new book by local historian Carl M. Adams about a notable early Pekin resident’s stalwart struggle for freedom — “Black Nance” Legins-Costley, who secured her freedom from slavery with the help of her attorney Abraham Lincoln in the 1841 Illinois Supreme Court case Bailey v. Cromwell. Adams’ book, “Nance: Trials of the First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln,” was recognized April 25 at the annual awards luncheon of the Illinois State Historical Society in Springfield.

This week, we will take another look at the family of Nance Legins-Costley in order to learn about Pekin’s historical connection to the origin of the celebration of “Juneteenth,” which is the oldest known public commemoration of the legal end of slavery in the U.S. “Juneteenth” refers to June 19, 1865, the day when Union soldiers under the command of Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston in Texas with news that the Civil War was over and all slaves were now free. Because Texas had been a part of the Confederate States of America, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation could not be enforced in Texas until then.

Juneteenth 2015 was celebrated on Friday, marking exactly 150 years since Union troops brought the news of freedom to Galveston. One of Granger’s soldiers in Galveston that day was none other than Private William Henry “Bill” Costley of Pekin (1840-1888), eldest son of Benjamin Costley and Nance Legins-Costley (though Union military records misspell Bill’s surname “Corsley”).

On his enlistment and muster papers, Bill Costley of Pekin is called “William H. Corsley.”

Bill Costley was mustered out of his regiment on Sept. 30, 1865.

We will now lend this column space to Carl Adams so he can share the results of his historical and genealogical research which tell the story of Bill Costley’s adventures during and immediately after the Civil War. (It was only this month that Adams located Bill’s final resting place, with the help of Rich Apri of St. Paul, Minn.)

  • * *

Bill Costley was the first male slave to be legally freed by attorney Abraham Lincoln as a result of the Bailey v. Cromwell Illinois Supreme Court case in 1841. He was an infant at the time. At age 23, Bill Costley decided to join the Union cause of the Civil War.

During the summer of 1864, the Civil War was going poorly for the Union Army on the Richmond-Petersburg front. Commander-in-Chief Lincoln was afraid he would not be re-elected president. To make matters worse, the Illinois 29th Regiment of Volunteers (Colored) had suffered more than 70 percent casualties at the Battle of the Crater — virtually wiped out, with all the officers either dead or wounded.

In spite of the fact they knew black men would have to fight with muskets at their front and bayonets held by white soldiers at their backs, 13 blacks from Tazewell County decided it was time to volunteer to reinforce the Colored Troops. Those brave 13 were William Costley of Pekin, his brother-in-law Edward Lewis, Thomas Shipman, George M. Hall, Joseph Hubbard, Richard Howard, Wilson Price, Thomas Tumbleton, Morgan Day, and the tightly knit family of William J. Ashby and his three sons, William H., Marshall and Nathan (one of those sons married a sister of Bill Costley).

At least two of them would not come home — Thomas Shipman of Pekin and Morgan Day of Elm Grove fell in battle, and their names are inscribed on the monument to Tazewell County’s fallen heroes outside the courthouse in downtown Pekin. And at least one of them was wounded — William Henry Costley. However, Bill Costley would participate in at least two more historic events before he returned home: the founding of the “Buffalo Soldiers” and “Juneteenth.”

Shown is the name of Bill Costley’s fellow soldier Thomas Shipman inscribed on the Tazewell County Veterans Memorial outside the Tazewell County Courthouse. Shipman, along with Morgan Day and William H. Costley, were among the 13 African-Americans from Tazewell County who fought to end slavery and restore the Union during the Civil War. Shipman and Day fell in combat, while Costley suffered a shrapnel wound to his shoulder.

Shown is the name of Bill Costley’s fellow soldier Morgan Day inscribed on the Tazewell County Veterans Memorial outside the Tazewell County Courthouse. Costley and Day were among the 13 African-Americans from Tazewell County who fought to end slavery and restore the Union during the Civil War.

General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army, sensing a quick victory, were eager to get the spring offensive started in March 1865, but heavy spring rains made movements difficult for horses and men alike, and wet ammunition was also a problem.

Finally, in the last week of March, the Union Army awoke from winter sleep and started to move. A fair-skinned black private from Tazewell County, Private Thomas Shipman, was one of the first to go. Assigned to the sharpshooters under Captain Porter, Shipman was killed trading musket balls with the rebel skirmishers on March 31.

Around noon on April 1, General Sheridan beat General Pickett at Five Forks. Private Bill Costley’s unit, the 29th Regiment of Volunteers (Colored), held part of the right flank of the Union line at Hatcher’s Run. The breakthrough prompted Grant to order a full frontal assault all along the line, spanning miles.

As Bill’s infantry line moved forward on the Confederate breastworks nearing Petersburg, an artillery shell blew an air burst to the front and to the left of Bill, close enough to knock him to the ground with sharp pain to the front left shoulder.

Bill was evacuated to the Regimental Aid Station. Dr. Clarence Ewen later wrote in Bill’s pension file (No. 524296) that he remembered Bill’s wound as badly bruised, but no blood, so Bill was ordered back to the front and, bravely, Bill went back into the fight — only to return the next day with intolerable pain.

So Bill was evacuated again, this time to Division for Triage, then on to the “Negro Only” facility at Point-of-Rocks near the pontoon bridge across the James River, and from there to City Point for transfer to a hospital at Alexandria, Va. Bill spent about five weeks in the military medical system. During this time Bill learned his family’s old friend, lawyer Lincoln, was killed as one of the last casualties of the War of the Rebellion.

Juneteenth — Freedom Day, June 19, 1865, for all of Texas slaves, about a quarter of a million souls.

The scene is the Gulf of Mexico in June 1865. The Civil War was over and Private Bill Costley was recovering from a shrapnel wound to his left shoulder, according to his pension file. After a month in the hospitals at Point-of-Rocks and Alexandria, Va., Bill Costley was returned to duty with his unit.

Most of the white Union soldiers were discharged for home, but most of the black soldiers still had a year of service, and the French had invaded Mexico during the war. Lincoln was dead, so Secretary of War Stanton ordered General U.S. Grant to dispatch the black units to the Mexican border as a show of force along the Rio Grande.

At least two Navy ships, the USS Wilmington and the USS William Kennedy, were ordered to load 2,000 Union soldiers, including General Gordon Granger and the 900 men of 29th Regiment of Illinois Colored Volunteers, which was augmented with former slaves and dispatched to the Mexican border.

It was a rough ride. From Mobile, Ala., the ships were sent out into very rough stormy seas to disembark at South Padre Island near Brownsville, Texas. The weather was too rough to unload anyone and the Rio Grande was flooding. After two days, the Navy needed safe harbor, so they tried Aransas Pass near Corpus Christi for another three days, but it was still too rough to unload.

The senior Navy captain warned Granger they were running out of supplies and the nearest resupply was at Galveston. This would be a turning point of history for the state of Texas.

“June 18 — Arrived off Galveston, at Pier 21.” The sight was surprising, if not shocking, to see black uniformed sailors and soldiers working side-by-side with still enslaved longshoremen, who had never heard of an “Emancipation … what?” This discovery would travel up the chain of command very quickly.

So without further orders and under threat of martial law enforced by black armed soldiers, the entire populace assembled at Ashton Villa the next morning. General Granger stood on the second floor balcony to read General Order No. 3. At the last four words of the first sentence, “all slaves are free,” the entire throng was motionless. It seemed no one even breathed. While it took a while to sink in, the order soon turned into an explosion of emotion that has lasted now for 150 years — Juneteenth, Freedom Day, 1865.

Private Bill Costley of Pekin probably didn’t get much of a celebration when his mother was emancipated 24 years earlier, but he did not miss the joys of this party that lasted all day, into the night and again the next day. However, they were still under military orders. “June 21 — Put to sea.”

  • * *

After the war, Bill returned to Pekin, where in 1870 the Civil War hero found himself indicted for murder. Bill had encountered a convicted rapist named Patrick Doyle brutally attacking a woman in the street. Bill intervened, twice ordering Doyle to stop, and when Doyle ignored him, he shot and killed him. (The records of Doyle’s inquest detailing Bill Costley’s actions are still on file with the Tazewell County Coroner.)

The people of Pekin knew Bill and his family, though, and they also knew who Doyle was and what he’d been sent to prison for — so after a two-day trial, the all-white jury acquitted Bill Costley, finding the homicide justifiable due to Bill’s having come to the aid of a woman in need. (Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” page 296, has a brief reference to Bill Costley’s trial and acquittal.)

Adams’ research shows that Bill later left Pekin, moving to 320 Main St., Davenport, Iowa, and then to 1134 N. Ninth St., Minneapolis, Minn., where it’s possible some of his family had also moved. Though the years wore on, Bill’s old war wound continued to plague him. Bill kept complaining of shoulder pain to his Pension Board, so he finally was admitted to Rochester State Hospital in Rochester, Minn., in May 1888, and there he died five months later, on the night of Oct. 1, 1888. The ward notes say he had “expired before he could be undressed.”

William Henry Costley, war hero, Buffalo Soldier, and witness to the first Juneteenth, was laid to rest — under the name of “William H. Crossley” — in Rochester’s Quarry Hill Park, in the Rochester State Hospital Cemetery, located between 11th Ave. NE and Route 22, just north of Route 11.

Shown is the grave marker of Pekin Civil War veteran William H. Costley (surname misspelled “Crossley” in the inscription) in the Rochester State Hospital Cemetery, Rochester, Minn.

#buffalo-soldiers, #carl-adams, #edward-lewis, #george-m-hall, #joseph-hubbard, #juneteenth, #marshall-ashby, #morgan-day, #nance-legins-costley, #nathan-ashby, #patrick-doyle, #pekin-history, #richard-howard, #thomas-shipman, #thomas-tumbleton, #william-h-ashby, #william-h-corsley, #william-h-crossley, #william-henry-costley, #william-j-ashby, #wilson-price

Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Normandale

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Last week we took a look at the community of Schaeferville, situated just outside the city limits on Pekin’s south side. Another community in a similar situation is Normandale Addition, located at the southwest corner of Pekin right outside the city limits.

Normandale Reformed Church and a part of Normandale Addition is shown in this aerial photograph from John Drury’s 1954 “This is Tazewell County.”

Normandale is several decades older than Schaeferville. There’s no trace of Normandale in the 1910 Tazewell County plat book and atlas, but it’s there on the 1927 Pekin Zoning Plan map. Two years later, “NORMANDALE ADD. TO PEKIN” is drawn on the map of Cincinnati Township that appears on page 42 of the 1929 Tazewell County play book and atlas, where it is shown south of the old cemetery and the Quaker Oats plant. The same volume features a close-up map of Normandale Addition.

Normandale Addition is shown in this 1927 Zoning Map of Pekin.

In those days, Normandale consisted of two east-west streets, Fleischmann and Insull, connected by three short north-south streets, American, Quaker, and Karo. In 1927 the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis Railroad tracks, making a northeasterly path toward Pekin, formed Normandale’s western boundary, while South Second Street was the eastern boundary. By 1929 the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis tracks had become the Chicago-Midland Railroad – the tracks are still there, now the Illinois Midland Railroad.

“Normandale Addition to Pekin” is the shaded area just south of the Quaker Oats Company’s land in the 1929 plat map of Cincinnati Township in Tazewell County.

This map of Normandale Addition was included in the 1929 Plat Atlas of Tazewell County.

Since 1929, the community of Normandale has expanded to include Thornton Avenue as its northern boundary and Midland Street as its southern boundary, with and additional street, Virginia, linking Insull and Midland at the western boundary. Pekin today has expanded so that the city borders Normandale on the community’s north, east, and south sides, but Normandale still remains separate from the city (although a few lots along Second Street just south of Fleischmann are now within the city limits). Interestingly, for a while Normandale Addition bore the name of “Crescent,” as shown on the maps in Drury’s 1954 “This is Tazewell County” as well as later plat maps in the 1950s and 1960s — but that name apparently didn’t stick and the community is known as Normandale today.

Many of Normandale’s streets bear names that are derived from the community’s location adjacent to Pekin’s industrial district. Fleischmann was named for the old Fleischmann Yeast plant, Quaker was named for the Quaker Oats plant, American was named for American Distillery, Karo was named for Karo syrup which used to be made at the Corn Products Refining plant, and Midland was named for the railroad. Insull was named in honor of Commonwealth Edison’s founder Samuel Insull (1859-1938), because of the Commonwealth Edison plant at nearby Powerton.

Five businesses currently operate in Normandale: KDL Machining at 1917 S. Second St., Precision RC Hobbies at 1901 S. Second St., Herbal Soap Supples at 403 Midland, MacDuff’s tavern at 1703 S. Second St., and perhaps the best known of Normandale’s business, Cranwill’s Drive In at 1713 S. Second St., which originally was an A & W Drive In.

The community is also the home of Normandale Reformed Church at 2001 S. Second St. The church was established in 1945 as a daughter church of Pekin’s Second Reformed Church.

#american-distillery, #commonwealth-edison, #corn-products, #cranwills-drive-in, #crescent, #fleischmann-yeast, #illinois-midland-railroad, #karo-syrup, #normandale, #normandale-addition, #normandale-reformed-church, #pekin-a-w, #powerton, #quaker-oats, #samuel-insull, #tazewell-county-unincorporated-communities

Tazewell’s unincorporated communities: Schaeferville

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Among the communities described in John Drury’s “This is Tazewell County, Illinois” (1954), we find the following brief comment on page 97:

“Another hamlet in Elm Grove Township is Shaferville. It is located just south of Pekin city and near it is Meyer’s Lake. A highway, State 9, runs through the community.”

Remarkably, most of what Drury says here is wrong. “Shaferville” is Drury’s misspelling of “Schaeferville,” an unincorporated community right outside the Pekin city limits. “Meyer’s Lake” was originally named Bailey’s Lake and is more commonly known as Lake Arlann – the community of Schaeferville is situated between Lake Arlann on the east and South 14th Street on the west. It is puzzling, however, why Drury thought Schaeferville was in Elm Grove Township, for it has always been in Cincinnati Township — and in fact a map in Drury’s book shows Schaeferville in Cincinnati Township, albeit on East Court Street rather than South 14th Street. It’s less of a puzzle why he thought Illinois Route 9 ran through Schaeferville – a 1945 Tazewell County plat book shows South 14th Street was then designated as Route 98, and Drury apparently confused Route 98 with Route 9.

Judge Charles Schaefer’s land on the west side of Bailey’s Lake, shown in this detail of a 1945 Cincinnati Township plat map, was soon to become the community of Schaeferville.

At the time Drury wrote, Schaeferville had only existed for a few years, having been platted out on land to the south of Pekin’s Fisher Addition — the land having been owned by the Schaefer family. The two most notable members of that family were Charles Schaefer (1875-1953), a former Tazewell County judge and Mayor of Pekin, and Judge Schaefer’s brother Fred Schaefer (1860-1948), who had been a partner in the Jansen & Zoeller Brick Company, later shifting to coal mining in 1939, when he bought one of the old Grant mines. Known at first as the Schaefer Mining Company, then as the Pekin Mining Company, the Schaefers’ mine closed around 1951, the last of Pekin’s coal mines.

This detail of the map of Cincinnati Township from the 1929 Tazewell County plat atlas shows the land of Judge Charles Schaefer on the west side of Bailey Lake (Lake Arlann or Meyer’s Lake) that later became Schaeferville.

By 1955 the new unincorporated community of Schaeferville was nestled snugly between Meyer’s Lake (Lake Arlann) and the Pekin city limits. Schaeferville is not, however, marked in this detail from the 1955 plat map of Cincinnati Township.

The detail of a map of Pekin from circa 1960 shows the unincorporated community of Schaeferville just outside of the Pekin city limits. The community was named for the Schaefer family who formerly owned much of the land on which Schaeferville’s residences were built.

The “hamlet” of Schaeferville is made up of 10 streets: South 14th, Norman, Hillview, Everett, Stout, Hazel, Gehrs, Mitchell, Martin, and Fredrick. The southern segment of West Shore Drive ending in Beachcomber Place is also outside of the Pekin city limits, but Schaeferville’s streets do not connect with West Shore or Beachcomber.

Schaeferville is also the home of Gethsemane Church, a non-denominational church located at 1601 Fredrick Drive. Formerly known as the Schaeferville General Baptist Church, the church was organized around 1960 at 901 Fredrick Drive (the lots on Fredrick later being renumbered, so that 901 is now 1601). The church’s long-time pastor, Rev. Frank G. Noyes, died at the age of 74 a little over a year ago after serving the church for more than 40 years.

As an unincorporated community of Tazewell County, Schaeferville is served by the governments of Cincinnati Township and Tazewell County, as well as the Schaeferville Fire Protection District under which the community operates its own 18-man volunteer fire department. The Schaeferville Fire Department’s station is at 1501 Hillview Drive.

Gethsemane Church, formerly Schaeferville General Baptist Church, is located at 1601 Fredrick Drive in Schaeferville, rural Pekin.

The Schaeferville Fire Protection District’s station is at 1501 Hillview Drive in Schaeferville, rural Pekin.

#charles-schaefer, #cincinnati-township, #fred-schaefer, #gethsemane-church, #rev-frank-g-noyes, #schaefers-mining-company, #schaeferville, #schaeferville-general-baptist-church, #tazewell-county-unincorporated-communities

Caring for paupers in pioneer times

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in September 2014 before the launch of this weblog.

Caring for paupers in pioneer times

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Modern society has numerous private charitable organizations and public social welfare programs that provide assistance to those who are poor or in need. However, in the early years of Tazewell County, the poor – usually called by the older term, “paupers” – had few options. Those who were unable to work, and whose relatives could not or would not help them, could have their living expenses defrayed at public expense.

Often this form of assistance involved the county reimbursing private individuals for their expenses in providing for a pauper. This is what was done in the case of an elderly pauper of Tazewell County named Nicholas Miller, as explained on pages 246 and 253-254 of Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County.”

Chapman writes, “In June, 1832, John Summers was allowed $78 for keeping old man Miller. In the June previous Summers came into Court and explained that a certain Nicholas Miller, a pauper, was living at county expense while he had a well-to-do son named Joseph, who should, both in equity of the law and from filial affection, support his father. Thereupon the Sheriff was posted after the undutiful Joseph. It appears, however, that Joseph was not found at the time, nor until 1834, if we rely upon the records for information, for no mention is made of him until that time. He then appears and gives as his reason for not supporting his parent, ‘inability to do so.’”

This episode illustrates the public welfare system then in use. The expectation was that a pauper’s family would provide for him. If they couldn’t do so, or refused to do so, then the county would provide money – but it would not be given directly to the poor person, but rather to whoever was “keeping” the pauper, and his keeper would have to petition the county court for the reimbursement.

Today, of course, $78 would not be much money, but the sum that Tazewell County paid to Summers for his year’s worth of expenses was not a small sum for the year 1832. To get a better idea of how much money that was, Tazewell County’s entire budget for 1832 consisted of only $689.50 in expenses and $729.24 in revenue.

In fact, money for paupers living at the county’s expense made up a not insignificant portion of Tazewell County’s expenditures in 1832. That is probably why the county court that year tried to rid the county of the expense of caring for its paupers Sarah Stout and Nicholas Miller – by attempting to sell them into servitude. According to Chapman, during the same court session when Miller’s son Joseph claimed an inability to provide for his father, Stout’s relatives Hosea Stout and Benjamin Jones also said they couldn’t provide for her.

“Thus,” Chapman writes, “the veteran and venerable paupers were thrown back upon the county, whereupon the Court ordered ‘Nathan Dillon and Wm. McClure to dispose of said paupers at public sale or private contract.’ It seems that they were not regarded as valuable paupers and not one bid was made for them. But all through the records for years are bills allowed for their maintenance. In 1835 the Court, being worried with the many claims for bills for supporting Miller, lifted up its voice and peremptorily commanded the Sheriff to sell him. The poor old man had outlived his years of usefulness and even became a burden to the indulgent county.”

Miller would remain on the county’s pauper rolls for the next decade. This is how Chapman tells the story of “The Last of Poor Old Nic. Miller”:

“During the years 1840 and ’41 we find a remarkable increase in the number and amount of bills allowed for keeping paupers. Throughout the record during these two years are bills upon bills of this nature. The increase seemed surprising to the Commissioners themselves, and they made particular inquiry into the status of affairs before granting the bills. It seems the county was imposed upon in several instances by the unnatural actions of those who preferred that their relations should be kept at the county’s expense rather than their own. One Jane Morrill it was found had a husband living able to provide for her.

“Poor old Nic. Miller, the ancient pauper, was still on hand, but his bill these years was curtailed to nearly one-half. Year after year the customary bill for his support was handed in, until through familiarity the name of ‘Nic. Miller’ became a by-word. We doubt not that when the old veteran died, and no more bills for his care were presented to the Court, the generous, kind-hearted Commissioners dropped a tear, felt a pang of sorrow steal through the tender cords of their heart, and softly muttered, ‘Poor old Nic. Miller is no more!’ Death, the poor man’s best friend, called the old gentleman away during the year 1845. The poor old man who had been refused bread by his own son, and who had been buffeted about by many adverse winds, now returned to trouble them no more.”

#nathan-dillon, #nicholas-miller, #paupers, #tazewell-county-history

Ehrlicher Brothers’ first prescription

This is a reprint of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in February 2015 before the launch of this weblog.

Ehrlicher Brothers’ first prescription

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

When Pekin celebrated its centennial as an incorporated city in 1949, the Pekin Association of Commerce’s Centenary Committee assigned the task of compiling and publishing a souvenir book of Pekin’s history to a group of eight men and women.

The result was the 1949 “Pekin Centenary 1849-1949.” Chief among those who produced this book were Thomas H. Harris, chairman, Charles Dancey, who wrote the history, Bea Falkin and Charlotte Rau, who wrote other articles, and Marge Brenneman and June Wieburg, who were in charge of selling advertisements for the book.

While the Centenary’s historical narrative is naturally the heart and core of the book, the advertisements also in their own way help to tell of Pekin’s history. Often the ads take the form of tributes and congratulations to the community from its various businesses or social organizations, and many times the tribute ads include summaries of the history of the city’s businesses or utilities.

The tribute ad of Ehrlicher Brothers, on page 29 of the Centenary, is a perfect example of one of those historically informative ads. Not only did this long-established pharmacy take the opportunity to brag about their work — “All prescriptions entrusted to our care are filled as written — no substitution — which has gained us the confidence of the physicians who wrote them. All ingredients used are pure and fresh . . .” — but the ad also includes some fascinating historical details, making it of interest even today, long after Ehrlicher Brothers went out of business.

“We have just completed 85 years of continuous drug business in the same room. We feel we have a right to be proud of our record,” the ad says. Ehrlicher Brothers Co., Druggists, 328 Court St., was founded in 1864 by Henry M. and Otto D. Ehrlicher, sons of the German immigrant Johann Georg Ehrlicher (1824-1876) whom this column featured in October 2014. As we’ve noted before, Henry and Otto are recognized as Pekin’s first druggists, and along with their brother George and their wives they donated the land where the original Pekin Hospital was built in 1918.

The most fascinating detail of the Ehrlicher Brothers tribute ad, however, was that it includes “an exact reproduction of PRESCRIPTION No. ONE filled July 7, 1865, one year after the founding of our establishment. It was written by Dr. Samuel T. Maus for Mrs. James Haines Sr., two of Pekin’s earliest pioneers.” (In fact the prescription is clearly dated July 18, 1865, not July 7.)

Shown is a reproduction of Ehrlicher Brothers’ first prescription, from July 1865.

Regular readers of this column will recall that the Haines and Maus families were among the first settlers of Pekin. The life of Dr. William Maus, son of Samuel, was featured in Sept. 2013, while the life of pioneer settler William Haines, older brother of James Haines, was featured in May 2014. “Mrs. James Haines Sr.” was Annie, daughter of Dr. William Maus.

#annie-haines, #charles-dancey, #dr-samuel-t-maus, #dr-william-s-maus, #ehrlicher-brothers, #henry-ehrlicher, #james-haines, #johann-george-ehrlicher, #otto-d-ehrlicher, #pekin-centenary, #pekin-hospital, #pekin-pharmacies, #preblog-columns, #william-haines

A pioneer physician of Pekin: Dr. William Maus

Here’s a chance to read again one of our old Local History Room columns, first published in September 2013 before the launch of this blog . . .

A pioneer physician of Pekin: Dr. William Maus

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

The first published history of Pekin, found in the 1870 Pekin City Directory, tells of a calamity that befell Pekin just a few years after its founding – a plague of cholera:

“With the opening of July, 1834, Pekin was visited by the Asiatic Cholera, and for a time the village was enveloped in a pall of gloom, sorrow and despondency. Quite a number of prominent citizens, among whom we find the names of Mr. Smith, Mrs. Cauldron, Thomas Snell, Dr. Perry, Mrs. Perry, Mrs. J. C. Morgan, and many others, fell victim ere the terrible malady took its departure.

“The medical profession was at that time represented by Dr. Perry, (one of the victims,) Dr. Pillsbury, and Dr. Griffith. Dr. W. S. Maus, although not then residing in Pekin, was also present the greater portion of the time, lending his aid to the terror-stricken and suffering people.” (Sellers & Bates Pekin City Directory, 1870, page 13)

On the preceding page, we read that Dr. Maus was among the pioneer settlers of Tazewell County and the Pekin area who had arrived in 1831 and 1832, prior to the Black Hawk War. The 1870 Pekin City Directory also notes that Dr. Maus was elected a few times as a Pekin town trustee in the 1840s. The 1873 Atlas Map of Tazewell County, page 7, says he served on the committee appointed in 1849-50 to oversee the construction of a new Tazewell County courthouse in Pekin, and on page 51 says he was elected to the Tazewell County Board in 1850.

The 1870 City Directory, on page 12, also provides this glimpse into the early state of affairs in the governance of Tazewell County:

“During the time intervening between the removal of the County Seat from Mackinaw to Pekin in 1831 and its removal from Pekin to Tremont in 1836, the offices of Circuit Clerk, County Clerk, Recorder, and Master in Chancery were held by Joshua C. Morgan, who was also post-master. He lived with his wife and four children, a brother and a young lady, and transacted the business of all his offices, in two rooms of the house now occupied by Dr. W. S. Maus. His house was also a great resort for travelers, and our informant says: ‘I have spent the evening at his house when the entire court and bar were there with many others.’”

An extended biography of Dr. Maus was included in the 1873 Atlas Map of Tazewell County, on pages 51 and 54. That account says he was born in Northumberland County, Pa., on Aug. 5, 1817, the sixth child of Samuel and Elizabeth Maus and a grandson of a German immigrant to Philadelphia named Philip Maus.

“Dr. William S. Maus was educated in the common schools of Pennsylvania. When about eighteen years of age he engaged in the drug business and the study of medicine with Dr. Ashbel Wilson, a leading physician of Berwick, Columbia county, Pa. He attended medical lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating and receiving a diploma from that institution in 1830. Immediately thereby he commenced the practice of his profession in Luzerne county, Pa.”

He had married Mary Barton in 1829, and they had seven children, the eldest of whom, Annie, married an early and somewhat prominent resident of Pekin named James Haines.

The biography continues, “In the spring of 1831 Dr. Maus started with a horse and buggy for the west, traveling over the mountains to the mouth of Beaver river, where he took passage on board a steamboat, and traveled on it as far as Madison, Indiana. Here he purchased a horse, and made the balance of the trip overland to Tazewell county, locating in practice in the town of Mackinaw. In June, 1832, he brought out his wife and eldest child, who was then an infant, to Tazewell county, that time making the trip by land.”

Dr. Maus’ brothers Samuel and Joseph also came out to Tazewell County and settled in Pekin. Dr. Maus moved from Mackinaw to Pekin in 1838, and that fall he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly as representative for Tazewell County. He was a member of the last state legislature to convene in the former state capital of Vandalia and of the first legislature to convene in the new capital of Springfield. Around these years, in addition to his medical practice and his state office, Dr. Maus also was a contractor for several railroads, building five sections of the Pekin & Bloomington branch of the Central Railroad (later the I. B. & W.).

“Upon his return from the legislature,” the biography says, “the Doctor engaged in practicing medicine; he also carried on merchandising with his nephew, Jacob Maus. Dr. Maus enjoyed a lucrative and extensive practice up to 1851, at which time he discontinued the practice of medicine, and devoted his time and attention to a variety of business, and subsequently improved a large farm in Mackinaw township. In December, 1858, Mrs. Maus died at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. James Haines.”

He remarried in 1862 to Elizabeth Batterson of Pekin. The following year he moved to his farm, but returned to Pekin in 1864. “Since 1865 his attention has been largely devoted to Horticulture,” the biography says. He died in Pekin in 1872, but the biography in the 1873 Atlas Map of Tazewell County was not updated before going to print.

Further details of his life, and his horticultural activities, can be gleaned from an “Odds and Ends” column published in the Pekin Daily Times on Sept. 23, 1930:

“Quite a number of folks remember Dr. William Maus, who during his residence in Pekin lived in a locality which is now one of the finest residence sections of Park avenue. The Dr. William Maus home was situated, north of and close to the home now occupied by Fred Epkens on Park avenue. . [Note: the 1930 Pekin City Directory says Fred and Eugenia “Epkins” lived at 1031 Park Ave.] In addition to being a doctor of medicine, William Maus was a pioneer nurseryman of this section.

“The home as many recall it was of southern colonial type and stood well back from the street (now Park avenue). Two rows of evergreen trees bordered the east and west sides of the wide drive which led up to the home and circled around it on each side.

“. . . [O]n the south side of the street [Note: in the 1100 block of Park Avenue] William Maus had a large orchard, which kids of those days often visited. Dr. William Maus was a kindly and generous man, one of our old timers said this morning, and the boys did not have to raid the orchard, for the doctor always gave them all the apples, pears and other fruit they wanted to eat.”

#cholera-epidemic, #dr-maus-orchard, #dr-william-s-maus, #james-haines, #pekin-history