Hutsonville During the War Days - Article 1

Transcribed by Barbara Dix

Hon. H. C. Bell gives Reminiscence of Stirring Times

Next to Old York, on the banks of the Wabash, the village of Hutsonville, Crawford County, has always possessed peculiar interest and has been surrounded with the most tender memories to me of any spot on earth. It is here I used to "foot it" on many Saturday afternoons to visit for the family of my uncle, dear old Noah Evans, whom none knew but to love, and to play with Clint Evans, his son. Noah Evans' first wife was Martha Bell, the sister of my father, Wiley Bell. She died when Clint and Mary were quite young, and after her death my uncle Noah married Sarah Jeffers. Both Noah and Sarah have been dead a number of years. Mary Evans has also been dead for more than forty years. Clint is still alive, or was when I last heard about him, and was then living near St. Louis, Mo.

It was also the town of Hutsonville I used to often visit in the early days of our Civil War, and often during the years that followed. Hutsonville was intensely loyal at the beginning, as well as all through the war, though it was not without the Copperhead element to make things intensely interesting on occasion: and as it, in those days was never without the open saloon, and a goodly number of them, one could see more fights and rows and roughhouses in Hutsonville in an hour any Saturday afternoon, than he could see in all Crawford County in a week. With Jack Plough, Bill Sutherland, the Mackey boys, Bill Ayers, Tom Claypool, the Green boys, Ike Mullady, Hughes, Big John Wise, and others, generally to be courted among the loyal boys, as they were called, in that far away time on the banks of the Wabash so far away.

It was indeed a dull Saturday from the spring of 1861 to along in 1866 when one could not get to see at least two or three good fights, occasionally a shooting scrape or two, by simply "hanging around" Hutsonville, as, with the exception of the year I was myself in the Federal army, I often did so. I saw Jack Plough, Bill Sutherland, Ike Mullady, Tom Claypool, Bill and Charlie Green, in more than one hot battle during those five strenuous years in the life of Hutsonville. And also I saw John Wise and others of the fighting machines of Hutsonville during those red hot days on the banks of the Wabash.

I was in Hutsonville the day that Bill Adams killed Tom Bostick, on the grade south of town, and when he was given a preliminary hearing before James W. Wilhite, my wife's father, for the crime. Hon. E. Callahan and Jim Barlow, as I now remember, were in the case, and of course on opposite sides, for I never remember of seeing these two Hutsonville luminaries on the same side of any case. Of course, Callahan was a fine lawyer, even then and Barlow was not much of a lawyer, but what he lacked in legal knowledge he made up, at least before justice of the peace, in cuning, courage, and bull dog courage, moral, as well as physical and Callahan, then, as always from the beginning of the Civil War until recent years, the leading lawyer of Crawford county, rarely got any the best of Jim Barlow before a justice of the peace. In the preliminary hearings and the little cases which usually, in those days came before that judicial luminary of the township and county. You see Jim knew tricks and was willing to get down on them, which Callahan was loth to practice, and could not turn the sharp tricks which Jim Barlow could and would turn in a case whenever it suited his purpose, or the interest of his client to turn or work upon court or jury. And then, too, Jim was dead game, and he would fight at the drop of of the hat, and which Callahan, not being a fight man, well knew, having bumped up against James on several occasions during thier J.P. practice, and he usually let Jim have things pretty much his own way, relying for his final success, and which he usually in the end attained upon the higher court of the county on appeal.

About the bravest man in all Hutsonville, and who was not a quarrelsome man, but whom all got out of the way when he went on the war path, was Jack Plough. He could make Bill Sutherland, Ike Mullady, Hughes, Charlie Green or any of the tough kids climb a tree when he went gunning for them either with a shot gun or pistol or a club. Ah, the many glorious fights which I and my cousin Clint Evans, have enjoyed in Hutsonville.

Hutsonville was not only intensely loyal, but what amounted to much the same thing in those days, but intensely and overwhelmingly Republican in politics, as I am sorry to say it still is, and it was about all a poor little democrat could do to live in Hutsonville, much less cut much ice there. Uncle Jack Hurst, and a few very few, others managed to get along without much trouble with the rampant loyal contingent of the village. But it took more tact and discretion than Geneal Grant ever displayed to do it. Even for some years after the Civil War, and even to this day, I doubt if there is a hotter Republican spot in Illinois, according to its population than Hutsonville. Any small town in which my friend Milt Rackerby, Dr. Eaton, the Musgrave boys, and others whom I might mention, and whom I have counted among my personal friends for many years reside, will soon let it be known and never forgottten that the party of Abraham Lincoln, Hayes, Harrison, McKinley, Taft, and Roosevelt rules the roost. But when the war with Germany comes I would bet my last dollar that Hutsonville now, as in the days of the Civil War, will be for the government to the man, even if it is presided over by a Democratic President, for they know, as all Democrats of the North should have known during our war with the Southland, that in times of war with any foe to the government, we should know no party, no partisanship, until it is fought out to victory, and especially so when that foe, as in this case is going to be, will be a foreign foe, and one which in endeavoring to fasten military despotism upon the whole world, the United States included.


This page last updated on February 05, 2015.