March 14, 1900 pg. 8 of Robinson Constitution

Transcribed by Barbara Dix.

March 14, 1900, pg. 8 of Robinson Constitution
A Former Citizen Writes of Early Days in Crawford
Windsor, Mo., Feb 23, 1900

Note: The following is a letter written by Mary A. Hand Shepherd Franklin to her nephew, Woodford D. Hand, which was published in the Constitution. Woodford was the Captain of Company D of the 30th IL Infantry during the Civil War.

W. D. Hand -- Dear Nephew: Your letter received requesting me to write on my 89th birthday a sketch of my father's family. My parents, Eli and Jane Hand were married in the wilds of KY about the year 1800. My two older brothers James and George Hand were born there. From Kentucky my parents moved to Ohio, near Chillicote, where I and the younger members of the family were born. About 1820 my father bought a soldier's claim on the Spoon River in the wilds of IL, and in the spring of 1821 started to move to his land. On April 15, on his journey west, he met a man of Busrun(?) prairie, east of Merom IN. and in conversation learned his name was James Newlin, who said he had settled on land about nine miles northwest of Merom and directed father the route to his cabin in the unbroken regions of Crawford, and stated that there as a cabin close by that had been built by two bachelors who had gone. He told father to take possession and he would return in a few days. We crossed the Wabash at Merom, and the only cabin between there and Newlin's was Thomas Gill's on the west side of Lamotte Prairie. We went into the cabin as instructed and the first night the wolves made a charge on our dog and kept him under the cabin. In your letter to me you stated that Cyrus was the only member of Uncle Jimmy Newlin's family living. My mind goes back to the happy days when I used to nurse him when he was small and the older children of both of both families toiled and played together as one family, Never could a family have received kinder treatment than we received of the Newlin family, and it is sad to think that myself and Cyrus are the only ones living of the two large famlies. My father left his family there and rode horseback, carrying gun, pocket compass and rations and found his land on Spoon river. he was well pleased with it and anxious to move; but when he returned and told the adventures of his trip we would not consent to go any farther. He said for five days and nights he traveled without seeing a white person. Indians would meet him on their ponies and escort him to their wigwams and fill his saddlebags with venison and give him new flints for his gun. Fort Clark was the nearest white settlement to his land. After his return we remained two or three years on the Newlin farm. During our stay father went hunting and killed an elk and hauled it with oxen by the cabin in which we children were attending school for us to view the monster, which weighed between four and five hundred pounds. Father then bought and improved a farm where Quaker Lane was afterwards laid out. My brother ,James was elected captain of militia in 1827 and received commission from one of the first governors of Ilinois. Their drill ground was on the prairie then known as Conrad Prairie but now know as the Emily Newlin( nee) Rains farm.. My brother George served apprenticeship with Jesse Barlow on Lamotte Prairie, and got to be a boss mechanic. His work can be seen yet in the wood work of Uncle Doctor Hill's old home and Ed Rains's home. Chas. B. Shepherd, my first , made the spinning wheels with which the mothers spun the flax and wool for the cloth that our clothes were made of. In the early 40's he moved to Robinson and he and Abe Jeffries contracted and built the first court house on the corner where the bank now stands. It was afterwards moved and is now the first house north of Olwin's store. My part of the work was to do the cooking. I will close by saying I would be glad to meet Aunties' McDowell and Gwen and Nixon Evans and other old settlers of Crawford whom I used to know so well.

Mary A. Franklin


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