The Town Takes Root
IN the Springfield of a century ago and more, the funda|mental problem of obtaining a place to live was a simple one. All a settler needed was an ax, some timber and the will to work, for everyone, in town as well as country, lived in log cabins. Generally they were small—not more than fifteen by eighteen feet—but as time went on enterprising owners doubled capacity by adding an upper story or by building a second cabin adjoining the first. Often "houseraisings" were held for the benefit of newcomers, while weddings were a signal for the entire community to join in the work. Early in the morning the men gathered with axes, saws and adzes, and by night the cabin was ready for occu|pancy—ready, that is, except for the housewarming, with its feasting and drinking and dancing "to wear the splinters off the floor."
For the first few years clothing too was mostly hand made. "We raised cotton sufficient to supply our wants . . ." wrote one early settler. "We had several cotton gins and our wives and daughters with their spinning wheels, cotton cards and looms supplied us with most of our wearing apparel." Wild animals were abundant, and many families made hats and clothing of their pelts.
The same primitiveness was reflected in the settlers' food. "During my first year in Springfield I boarded with old Grandfather Kelly, and I think of it as the most luxurious Page 19 living of all my days," wrote Elijah Iles, reminiscing in a pleasant glow. "It consisted of Venison, Turkey, Prairie Chickens, Quail, Squirrel, beef and enough pork to season; honey and the best of milk and butter, and the never-to-be-forgotten corn dodger, and the hoe cake." If fresh venison were wanted for breakfast a deer could usually be killed in the grove where the Governor's mansion now stands. Hick|ory nuts and walnuts were abundant in the timber around the town, while in summer there was a profusion of wild strawberries, blackberries and plums.
To commence housekeeping, even for the town's leading citizen, was a simple matter. Elijah Iles thus described the preparations for his marriage with Malinda Benjamin, which took place in 1824. "To enable her to do her part, I fur|nished her bed-ticking, feathers, and sheeting, to be made up for a bed which was to be placed in a room above my little store. She was a brisk worker, and soon had them ready. For my part, I built a shed and brick chimney, with open fire-place (this was before the days of cook stoves), attached to the rear of the store, for a cooking and dining place, until I had time to build a better. I soon had cooking utensils and table ware, and was prepared. After supper we called in a preacher, who married us, and our bridal trip was across the street to our bed room."
Social intercourse was without formality. When a young lady wished to entertain company she simply placed a lighted candle in her window. In a few minutes she would have as her guests most of the young men of the village, who col|lected nightly at the four corners at Second and Jefferson streets. John T. Stuart, who came to Springfield in the fall of 1828, thus described his initiation into the custom. "Miss Clarissa Benjamin, now Van Bergen, placed her candle in the window of the parlor room, above the store of Major Iles. Phil Latham gave notice by exclaiming: 'Boys, Clarissa's candle is in the window; let's go over.' The young men as|sembled Page 20 there, and found Miss Clarissa Benjamin, Misses Hannah and Margaret Taylor, the Misses Dryers, and Miss Jane Bergen. It was a pleasant, social evening, and these ladies were as handsome, refined, and entertained as well and gracefully, as the young ladies of the present day."
In the long winter evenings families gathered around the huge fireplaces, often six feet or more in width. A back log so big that it had to be rolled over the floor and put in place on skids glowed red, while small wood piled around it kept the cabin warm. Everyone had an abundant supply of nuts. "In our family we added the parching and roasting of pop-corn and yellow corn," said Zimri Enos. "The latter, when well browned and ground and served in a bowl with rich, sweet milk, is a dish I could enjoy even now."
Sometimes less pacific occupations were indulged in. On Saturdays, when the farmers came to town, the little square at the intersection of Second and Jefferson streets was likely to be the scene of considerable brawling. There the young men of the Sangamo country demonstrated their physical prowess by the time-honored method of blacking each other's eyes. Neighborhood quarrels were settled in the same way. Now it would be South Fork and Flat Branch against Rich|land and Clary's Grove; now Spring Creek against Lake Fork. Sometimes a dozen battles were in progress at the same time.
Springfield was, in truth, a frontier town, and many phases of its life revealed the small gap which separated it from the uninhabited prairies of a few years before. James Adams received an amusing demonstration of this fact soon after he settled there in 1821. Bitten by a rattlesnake, he wanted to obtain some snake oil as a remedy. Seeking speedy relief, he let it be known that he would pay fifty cents for the first rattler offered him and twenty-five cents for each additional one. In a short time a man appeared with a snake and col|lected his fifty cents. A few minutes later he came back with Page 21 two more, and received the stipulated price of twenty-five cents for each of them. Then he asked Adams to go with him to his wagon. The bed was a tangled mass of rattlers, one hundred and twenty-two of them! Adams finally compro|mised by paying $5.00 for the lot.
In the country around the town evidences of newness were everywhere. As late as 1833 an observant traveler wrote that even in the neighborhood of Springfield "the cultivated fields form a mere speck on the surface of the prairie," while government land remained unsold within a mile of the town. Most farms were located on the edge of the timber. In the beginning settlers had looked upon the prairies as sterile— if trees wouldn't grow upon them, how could crops be ex|pected to thrive? The fallacy of this belief was soon demon|strated, but land bordered by timber remained desirable by reason of the ease with which wood for building, fencing and fuel could be obtained. "A settler regards the distance of half a mile from forest an intolerable burden," wrote one observer.
The unbroken prairie, however, was more than mere wasteland; it was a thing of such beauty that few remained insensitive to it. In the summer tall grasses and brilliant flowering weeds, rippling in the wind like waves, stood as high as the head of a man on horse-back; while horses' hoofs and fetlocks turned crimson with the juice of wild straw|berries. In the winter the very immensity of its brown barren|ness was not to be forgotten. Never was the prairie so ma|jestic, however, as when it was afire. Through the dry grass the blaze sped faster than a horse could run, a quivering, leap|ing rush of flame. Smoke rose in heavy clouds, and night be|came light. Men not known to possess a particle of poetry in their natures became lyrical in describing the sight.
On the farms, which were the chief reason for Springfield's existence, the methods were those of agriculture in its early stages. Once the prairie was broken—a hard job which re|quired Page 22 four or five oxen—little attention was paid to the crop until it was harvested. At the first planting corn was dropped in every third or fourth furrow and covered with the next turf. The resulting crop, known as sod corn, often yielded fifty bushels to an acre. Afterward corn was sowed in hills four feet apart. Machines to lighten work were unknown. Hay forks were made of forked sticks; hay was raked into rows with hand rakes. Wheat was cut and bound by hand, and threshed with a flail or trampled out by horses. In the spring, when ground was to be prepared for planting, corn stalks were cut off with a hoe and piled into heaps to be burned. Fences for keeping cattle in were made of rails split by hand, and hogs were allowed to run wild in the timber.
Throughout the first decade of settlement, each farm was almost entirely self-sufficing. This was necessarily so, for little money could be obtained from the sale of crops. The people of Springfield and other villages consumed only a small part of the farmers' surplus, and the cost of transporta|tion to more distant markets often exceeded in value what re|mained. The experience of a settler named Thomas Beam, who lived near Rochester, was typical. In 1830 Beam raised a good crop of corn. He determined to sell it, take the pro|ceeds and remove to Galena. He found that he was unable to get a cent of money. The best he could do was to trade the entire crop for a barrel of whiskey, which he traded in turn for a three-year old steer. Finally he sold the steer for $10.00.
What produce was sold for cash brought low prices. Throughout the decade corn brought from five to eight cents a bushel in the field. Butter could be bought for five cents a pound, eggs for three cents a dozen, venison hams for twenty-five to forty cents a pair. Prairie chickens had no value at all. Pork sold from $1.00 to $1.50 per hundred; while beef cattle three or four years old were worth $8.00 to $10.00 each. Milch cows brought from $5.00 to $10.00.
Page 23In the stores of Springfield produce was exchanged for goods more often than for cash. Old settlers told of trades they made in the early days—of exchanging thirty bushels of oats for eight yards of calico, or a winter's bag of 'coon skins for two hundred pounds of salt, or a bolt of homespun cloth for a set of china dishes. Money was scarce, and of un|certain value. Bank notes might be worth anywhere from nothing to 100 cents on the dollar, and even specie was treach|erous, since there were many counterfeits and "shaved" coins in circulation. The currency situation, however, was of small importance to good traders, who found storekeeping the surest way to make money. "That business is the best that can now be engaged in, in this part of the State," a Spring|field man wrote in 1828.
For several years even postage was often paid in poultry, jeans, or beeswax. Charges—usually twenty-five cents a let|ter—were collected from the recipient rather than from the sender. Mails came so infrequently that the arrival of the carrier was a big event. All the inhabitants of the town—and often of the country for many miles around—gathered at Iles' store, where the postoffice was located for a number of years, to see the mail distributed. John Williams, Iles' clerk, called out the names of the addressees, but letters were not delivered until the postage was paid, unless, of course, the person was "good for it." Williams told of a Scotchman who devised a system of skinning the postoffice. This man, who had relatives in the East, would meet every mail, but it was seldom that he accepted the letter which always came for him. Instead, he would take it, look it over longingly, and then remark, "I wude luve to read it but siller is too hard to get to be spent on a feckless letter." But now and then he would pay his twenty-five cents and accept it. Their curios|ity aroused, Iles and Williams discovered that the clan had devised a cypher system of innocent looking marks on the out|side of the letter. If the marks told the Scotchman that all Page 24 was well with his correspondent he refused the letter; if they informed him that something was wrong, he accepted it. Needless to say, after this discovery the canny settler was compelled to pay cash before even a look was permitted him.
As time went on and Springfield slowly became larger, the occupations of its inhabitants began to cover a wider range. After the general store, the tavern was the next business to make an appearance. In 1821 Andrew Elliott opened the Buckhorn, and in early March, 1822, Elijah Slater and Thomas Price were both licensed to keep "public houses of entertainment" in Springfield. Prices were strictly regulated. Thus, for "victuals," a charge of 37½¢ could be made; lodging for the night was 12½¢. The sort of accommoda|tions available can be guessed from the fact that the charge for stabling a horse for the night, without feed, was 50¢— four times the rate charged mere humans. Brandy and wine were to be sold for 25¢ per half pint, gin for 18¾¢ and whiskey for 12½¢.
One by one craftsmen appeared. Jacob Ellis had done blacksmithing even before Iles' store was built, but it was some years before other skilled artisans located at the town. Thomas Strawbridge, who came in 1824, was the first sad|dler, and Jabez Capps, who arrived shortly afterward, the first shoemaker. Not until 1829 did a hatmaker set up an establishment. By that time a considerable diversification of industry had taken place. "We have four public houses of entertainment (poor things)," Enos wrote in 1828, "five dry goods stores with good asortments for a new country three groceries well supplyed, which operates to the injury of the morals and purses of the Inhabitants—a post office a print|ing office a carding machine and power grist mill two black|smith shops, two first rate shoe makers, and several cob|lers—three cabinet shops where good cherry work can be obtained at a pretty extravigant price—Carpenders, joiners and other mechanicks in the same proportion."
Page 25Keeping pace with the craftsmen were representatives of the professions. Gershom Jayne, the first physician, settled in Springfield in 1823. Shortly afterward Garrett Elkin, a Transylvania graduate, appeared. By 1828 there were four physicians living in the town. "They were men of intelli|gence . . . ," said John T. Stuart, who arrived in that year, "besides they were men of splendid physique, and able to endure the arduous labor of the practice of the day which required them to ride night and day, on horseback or in the sulky, for fifty miles around."
Stuart, himself a lawyer, found five other members of his profession living in Springfield at the time he settled there. All except James Adams were young men, and Adams was only forty-three. Court met only twice a year in Sangamon County, but by visiting the courts in the other counties within traveling distance it was possible for them all to make a living.
The presence of craftsmen, doctors and lawyers was sig|nificant. Keen observers of the American frontier recognized successive stages in its development. First came the "bee|hunters"—the restless adventurers who hunted for a living, indulged in a little crude farming, and moved westward when real settlement commenced. In the Sangamo country this class had ceased to predominate at the time when Springfield was founded. In their place came the first settlers, differing from their predecessors only in the extent of their posses|sions and in their somewhat greater stability. By 1825, how|ever, a different class of men was arriving in number. A con|temporary writer characterized this class as "enterprising men from Kentucky and the Atlantic States. This class con|sists of Young Doctors, Lawyers, farmers, mechanics &c, who found towns, trade, speculate in land, and begin the fabric of Society. There is in this class every gradation of intellectual and moral character; but the general tone of Social manners is yet too much relaxed. There is too much Page 26 reliance upon personal prowess, and the laws have not yet acquired sufficient energy to prevent violence." The descrip|tion fitted Springfield in the latter part of its first decade, and throughout the second.
It is difficult, however, to draw a line between successive stages of development. From the beginning some character|istics of a settled society were apparent. Schools are a case in point. One was established during the town's first winter, and never afterward were the children without the oppor|tunity of learning their a b c's.
They were primitive affairs, of course. The first one was held in a log house located in a clearing on the north side of Washington Street between Pasfield and Lewis. Light was admitted from windows made by leaving out a log and insert|ing glass in its place. The pupils sat on backless benches made of log slabs with sticks for legs. There were no desks, the little writing required being done on a shelf around the wall. Later on facilities were better. One term of school was held in the old Masonic Hall, located in the upper part of a two-story cabin on the south side of Jefferson Street between Second and Third, and, after 1825, several terms were held in the frame court house on the northeast corner of Sixth and Adams. Admission was by subscription only, parents paying the schoolmaster a stipulated sum per week for each child.
As late as 1827 one individual was supplying the educa|tional needs of the town, for in the spring of that year Enos informed an applicant for a school that the town already had a teacher. "We have a teacher of the english language . . . ," he wrote, "and as long as he keeps, it would not be possible to procure scholars for another school, besides Sir, the Citizens of this town have no idea of giving but little more to an instructor than to a hired man—of course more than two hundred and twenty five or fifty dollars could not be obtained for the year—Provided that we were without a teacher at the present time."
Page 27No one will ever know how much the first schoolmasters of Springfield contributed to the intellectual enrichment of their pupils, but it can be said with certainty that at least two of them aided in relieving the monotony of the town's exist|ence. One Mendel, who had an excessive fondness for the product of Thomas Cox's distillery, was the source of much amusement. His most famous exploit took place during a term of court. While both school and court were adjourned for dinner, and Mendel was fortifying himself for the after|noon's work, his scholars tied a calf to the judge's chair and put twelve geese in the jury box. When the judge and lawyers returned, they found the schoolmaster in the midst of an excited speech, earnestly addressing the calf as "the honor|able judge" and the twelve geese as "gentlemen of the jury." Erastus Wright was another personality, but in a different sense. To the citizens, his outspoken abolitionism—he was a New Englander—was a strange and dangerous doctrine; while the youngsters found a perpetual source of wonder in the trained elk which he rode and drove in harness.
The school's twin institution, the church, lagged behind in early Springfield. Itinerant preachers, like the famous circuit|rider, Peter Cartwright, held services, and at an early date a Methodist Society was formed, but no churches were built and no permanent preachers secured until near the end of the first ten years.
The reason was economic, for there is evidence of plenty of interest in religion. In February, 1825, for instance, the Edwardsville Spectator reported that the Sangamo Sabbath School Society, organized at Springfield nine months earlier, had brought ten schools into existence in Sangamon County and one in Fulton. Two superintendents and seven teachers had charge of seventy "learners." With naive confidence in the numerical measurement of religion, it was said that 6,435 verses of Scripture and 755 verses of hymns had been re|cited. Another indication of popular feeling may be found in Page 28 the action of the county commissioners who, in the autumn of 1826, ordered the purchase of a Bible and hynm book for the use of the occupants of the jail.
Since 1821 the Methodist Society had been holding meet|ings, usually in the home of Charles R. Matheny. More than once they talked of building a meeting house, but in the end they permitted the Presbyterians to beat them to it. A mis|sionary of the latter denomination had organized a congre|gation in Springfield early in 1828, and when John G. Bergen, Princeton graduate and Presbyterian minister, settled there later in the year, he induced the congregation to undertake the building of a church. In all, $1,200 was subscribed, and it was decided that the building should be of brick. Accord|ingly, a brickmaker was imported from Alton, and prepara|tions commenced. Not until the summer of 1830 was the building completed. It was located on the east side of Third Street, between Washington and Adams. Peter Cartwright called it a "little brick shanty," but his estimate was prob|ably colored by jealousy, since the Methodists had been aroused to similar activity by the example of their rivals. Their structure, a frame building at the corner of Fifth and Monroe, was built on two lots which Pascal P. Enos had offered as an alternative to a subscription of $50 in cash. It was completed soon after the first services were held in the Presbyterian church.
In other spheres there were gropings on the part of Spring|field settlers for the way of life of older communities. Fourth of July celebrations made an early appearance, the first one being held in 1823. At that time the citizens of the "Sangamo county" gave a dinner to Governor Coles and Daniel Pope Cook "as a mark of respect due them on account of their firm, independent, and uniform republican conduct." Two years later a second celebration was held "at the Spring of Col. Cox, in the suburbs of Springfield," where dinner was served and numerous toasts were drunk.
Page 29The toasts on both occasions reflected the modes of thought which prevailed in the Sangamo country. Ardent republican|ism was evident not only in the orthodox Independence Day toasts—to Washington, the Revolutionary patriots, the Con|stitution—but also in the sympathy expressed for other as|piring peoples. Grecian independence was toasted several times; Bolivar, the South American patriot, was lauded; while the Holy Alliance came in for a rap in the following words: "May the bitterest tincture of the Bohun Upas be the mildest drink of their infamous brotherhood."
Toasts on both occasions revealed the place in the social scheme which the men at least thought the women ought to occupy. "The Fair of Illinois—May housewifery and proper economy ever be their delight," was the final toast at the din|ner in 1823; while two years later nine cheers were given to the sentiment: "The Fair of Illinois—May they adorn their minds with useful knowledge, and their bodies with the fruits of their own industry."
At the first celebration the attitude of the settlers on the question which was then agitating the entire state—that is, whether a convention should be called to amend the consti|tution so as to permit the introduction of slavery—was made clear. One would naturally expect to find sentiment in favor of the change. Most of the settlers came from states below the Ohio River, and made no secret of their antipathy toward Yankees and Yankee prejudices. Moreover, in Springfield it|self Negroes were held in practical bondage through the harsh indenture system permitted by the constitution. Never|theless, the citizens were outspoken against the calling of a convention. Eleven cheers greeted the toast, "The Tree of Liberty, planted by the Ordinance of 1787, nourished by Ohio and Indiana—May Illinois never cut it down." Others of like tenor were greeted no less cordially.
Nine months later the attitude of the people on the slavery question was given expression in an address issued by four|teen Page 30 of the eighteen men empaneled for the April grand jury. Expressing the belief that they represented "the feelings and sentiments of much the greater portion of the people of Sangamo," these men proclaimed: "We hope and trust the virtue and good sense of the people of Illinois will save them from the evils with which they are now menaced (the intro|duction of slavery) and we call upon the friends of freedom throughout the state to array themselves under its banner, and to sustain with all their energies the edifice of our poli|tical rights as it now stands."
The election, held in August, 1824, proved that these sen|timents were an accurate expression of popular opinion. In Sangamon County 722 votes were cast against a convention as compared with 153 in favor of one. In the Springfield precinct the count was 373 against a convention to 75 in favor of one.
From the first, the Sangamo settlers took an interest in politics. Years afterward a voter described the first election held in Springfield for members of the General Assembly. "I was present at the general election, August 1822," he wrote. ". . . The voters were chiefly emigrants from the East and South, though a large portion of the men present were Indians and Darkies, they of course not being allowed the right of suf|frage. The voting portion of the community were then called the Yankees and white men. Three men named Kinny, Par|kerson and Edwards, had a long bench ranged along the Court House, on which they set their liquors. The polls were held in the interior. We all got plenty to drink. The white men sang songs, the Indians and darkies danced, and a gen|eral frolic occurred; but what has surprised me, as I have reflected upon those early days, we had no fighting. The great evil was, that every candidate had to fill his portmanteau with whiskey, and go around and see and treat every voter and his wife and family with the poisonous stuff, or stand a chance of being defeated."
Page 31Two years later the presidential campaign of 1824 aroused considerable enthusiasm. In Springfield John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay were the favorite contestants. Both were toasted at the Fourth of July celebration in 1823. As the elec|tion approached, the leaders became active. On September 11, 1824, Clay supporters held a meeting in Springfield, elected James Turley chairman and Thomas M. Neale secre|tary, and chose Neale, Elijah Iles and James Strode dele|gates to a larger meeting to be held in Carrollton later in the month. On the same day an Adams meeting was held in Alton, with Thomas Cox, Charles R. Matheny and William Har|rison in attendance as Sangamon County's delegates.
At the election the two favorites stood almost even, 125 votes being cast for Adams and 123 for Clay. Only 37 out of the total of 294 were given to Jackson electors. Four years later, however, it was a different story. By that time Andrew Jackson's popularity had increased mightily, and he had no difficulty in polling nearly 700 of the county's 1,100 votes.
The election statistics furnish a rough measuring stick by which the growth of the Sangamo country can be gauged. Nearly four times as many votes were cast in 1828 as in 1824, and this in spite of the fact that during these years Sangamon County lost more than half its original area, while at the same time a large exodus to Galena and the lead mines took place. Of course, more lively interest may account for part of the increased vote, but even so, settlement was in|creasing rapidly. In the autumn of 1825 the editor of the Illinois Intelligencer of Vandalia counted the wagons pass|ing through there on their way to Sangamon County, and estimated that in five weeks 650 persons must have been added to its population. And this was only one of the routes used by emigrants!
The arrival of new settlers added zest to life in the town of Springfield, for not much happened there to break the routine of daily living. Occasionally, however, an event took Page 32 place which seared itself into memory so deeply that men never forgot it. Such was the Van Noy hanging.
On August 27, 1826, a blacksmith named Nathaniel Van Noy killed his wife in a drunken fit. He was arrested at once. The next day the circuit court met in special session and his trial commenced. On the 29th a verdict of guilty was re|turned, and the murderer was sentenced to be hanged on November 26. A large crowd assembled for the event, men coming twenty-five and thirty miles and bringing their fami|lies. At the jail a long procession formed—wagons filled with men, women and children, men and boys on horseback and on foot. Passing west on Jefferson Street, the crowd turned south on First to a gallows in the hollow north of the present State House. The wagon containing Van Noy was driven beneath the posts, the noose was slipped around his neck, and then the horses were started. And for many years there|after events were dated by "the fall Van Noy was hung."
The Winnebago War was another event long to be re|membered. In the summer of 1827 word came to Governor Edwards that the Winnebago Indians were committing dep|redations and that the miners in the vicinity of Galena were in serious danger. Edwards ordered Thomas M. Neale, the Springfield lawyer and surveyor who commanded the 20th militia regiment, to muster 600 volunteers and proceed to the scene of the disturbances.
Late in July the first volunteers from Sangamon County gathered in Springfield, and formed in a ragged line at the northwest edge of town. They were not a martial-looking group, but Colonel Neale's splendor made up for their de|ficiencies. Dressed in braided blue, with "epaulets, cock hat and plume, sword belt and spurs," he galloped up and down before his men—and so dazzled the boys of the town that they played soldier until winter set in.
A few days later the Sangamo Spectator recorded the de|parture of the troops. "On Friday last Col. Neale, with about Page 33 230 mounted volunteers, left this place for Peoria," Hooper Warren, the editor, wrote. "Other troops, which were not in readiness to go with the Colonel, will depart to-morrow, to join him at that place. Among these is a new company of riflemen, organized for the occasion, and commanded by Captain Edward Mitchell, Jr."
The expedition, thus bravely started, developed into some|thing of a farce. At Peoria the regiment chose its officers. James D. Henry, Springfield storekeeper, was elected adju|tant. Elijah Iles, elected major, was dubbed the "mule major" because of his mount. Gershom Jayne was chosen surgeon and William Smith, another Springfield man, quartermaster. After various difficulties—with provisions, not Indians—the regiment reached Gratiot's Grove near Galena, but being unable to find either Indians or the federal troops who were known to be in the neighborhood, Neale disbanded his com|mand and the men straggled home.
The outstanding event of pioneer days, however, was the deep snow of 1830-31. Before it, in the memory of early set|tlers, all else shrank to insignificance. Births, deaths and weddings were dated by it, while stories of its vagaries passed into the folklore of the prairies.
After weeks of mild weather, snow commenced to fall on Christmas Eve, 1830. On Christmas Day it was a foot deep, and everyone was jubilant. Then the weather turned bitter cold, and the snow continued. Day after day it fell, until even on the level surfaces it was four and five feet deep.
For the youngsters of Springfield it was a time of hilarity. Sleds and sleighs were improvised and tied behind the cutters of Doctors Todd and Jayne, famous horsemen and fast drivers, until the doctors tired of the sport and discouraged it by driving headlong into uncleared streets. Sleighing par|ties were organized—to Sangamo Town for a barrel of flour, to Jacksonville to rescue snowbound friends or just for the fun of the trip. "Though the description of these rides, as Page 34 given at the time, is vivid in my recollection," wrote Rev. John G. Bergen with ministerial reticence, "I shall leave them to the imagination of the reader, with the rough roomy sleigh, covered with buffalo robes, filled to overflowing with hale, happy companions, behind four fiery horses, champing their bits in the cold, ready for the plunge. The driver cracks his whip, the bells jingle as the merry parting sings out, and they are off—sometimes in deep drifts, where they flounder, snow within, snow without, snow everywhere, cold cutting the face, drifts blinding the eyes, horses rearing and plung|ing, and at times drawing their 'slow length' wearily along."
In many places there was suffering. Often it was impos|sible to get to a mill for flour, and in that case the snow|bound family had to live on homemade corn grits. Hogs froze to death in the woods, and game animals died in great num|bers, so that it was hard to obtain fresh meat. It was a serious matter when the wood supply ran low, for horses were not strong enough to drag logs through the drifts.
That Springfield escaped without hardship was due to Pascal P. Enos and his fondness for fine oxen. He had two large teams, and with them he broke the way to mill and wood lot. Throughout the weeks when the town was snow|bound, he could have been seen almost daily, "with wolf|skin cap on head, a Yankee frock buttoned close to the neck behind, reaching below his knees, belted over a great coat beneath, with legging protectors and ox-goad in hand," haul|ing huge logs to the doors of those who were destitute.
In the spring, when the streams were swollen with the melted snow, three young men of Macon County floated down the Sangamon to the Springfield landing, and came into town to meet the man who had hired them to take a flat-boat to New Orleans. Twenty-nine years later one of them, Abraham Lincoln by name, wrote that this was "the time and the manner" of his first entrance into Sangamon County.