Hutsonville During the War Days - Article 2

Transcribed by Barbara Dix

Hon. H. C. Bell Gives Further Reminiscense of Days of Long Ago

And still the ancient village of Hutsonville, on the banks of the Wabash far away, lingers in heart and brain, and not pass from my mental ken {vision} away. How the ever lively, shifting, exciting, entrancing scenes of that dear old town, as I saw them in the long ago, come crowding on heart, and brain, and mind and soul today, after all the intervening years. How the remembrance of the gay, excited, rushing, strenuous crowds of Hutsonville, in those far off days rush upon me now. How lifelike appear the busy store keepers, the rushing eating house keepers, the noisy wharf, as the boats came and went, how the songs of the negro boat hands ring in my ears, as they loaded the corn and the wheat, and the pork and the lard for the markets of the country. How the wild, roystering saloon crowds, as they sang and talked, and quarreled and fought, break on mind and brain as my mind runs back to Hutsonville, in those strenuous days of our great Civil War. The faces and forms of Bill Sutherland, Ike Mullady, Little Watts, Tom Claypool, Charlie Green, Bill Green, Hughes, Big John Wise, the Mackey boys, Bill Ayers, the Davis twins, Ira Drake, Catlin Preston, George Preston, Joe Voke, Joe Petri, Andy Cox, Uncle Jack Hurst. Some of the former adding constantly to the gayety of the town's, by keeping things eternally "het-up," while the latter were ever trying to keep the peace and prevent the towns going permanently mad with the spirit of the War and the juice of the corn. Ah, those were the strenuous days on the banks of the Wabash river, far away.

All these things are ancient history, or are not known at all by practically all the inhabitants of Hutsonville and vicinity today; but there are men in Hutsonville, even yet, and many in Crawford and the southern parts of Clark county, who have not forgotten them, and which scenes and incidents will linger in heart and mind and brain until death comes. And those who did not live through those scenes, as did the typist, are on the threshold of other incidents and scenes, new, exciting and strange, which are upon us. when men will have their minds constantly racked and their hearts constantly torn, and their souls constantly strung up to the hightest pitch of loyalty and love of country, by incidents, sights, and experiences which they have never known before, and which, while life lasts, will linger in heart and brain, as the incidents and scenes I have sketched of the long ago linger in heart and brain of those, who like the typist, and many more in Hutsonville and Crawford County who have seen and heard what I have seen and heard.

As I now remember it. Uncle Jack Hurts(Hurst?), Uncle Byant Cox, the Harness boys, the elder Lindleys, Newlins, the Atheys, Reynolds family, one branch of it at least, Burner, Prestons and a few other individuals and families constituted about all there was of a Democratic party in Hutsonville and Hutsonville township, during our Civil War. But there were enough Democrats, though generally of the loyal kind, in Hutsonville, which, when added to the Sullivan County, Ind., contingent, which came often to Hutsonville to get their drinks, play cards and fight, to keep the Republican boys constantly sitting up and taking notice. And to make Hutsonville, every day in the week and especially on Saturdays, the warmest baby of a village on the Wabash river from Terre Haute to Vincennes. Time and again during the Civil War, it was given out the the "Copperheads" of Sullivan County, Ind., as they were called, were coming over to Hutsonville to slaughter its people and burn the town and more than one night during those troublesome times, the men of Hutsonville, with loaded guns, guarded the Illinois bank of the Wabash, waiting to give a warm reception to the "Copperheads" of Sullivan county, who were expected to cross the river and storm the town.

Usually, when things were normal and quiet in Hutsonville, the Democrats were allowed to repose in peace, but when a lot of the "boys in blue" happened to be home on furloughs, and when they were spending their bright new "shinplasters" in having a good time in the usual way of those days, Democrats, and those who were not in sympathy with the doing of "Uncle Abe", kept in the background, and did not run amuch with the antagonistic sentiments among the "boys in blue" who swarmed the streets and saloons and eating rooms of the village. Captain Markley, who fell at Belmont, Captain Guy Alexander, Capt. Langston and other well known Hutsonville soldiers, privates, as well as officers, were held in high esteem by all loyal citizens of Hutsonville, and war rallies, big dinners, and dances, given in honor of soldiers home on furloughs, and in honor of others just entering the service, were numerous in Hutsonville in those days and the praises of loyal men and the smiles of beautiful women and girls, encouraged men to enlist in the service of their country, welcomed them home on their furloughs, and cheered their departure to the front again when they went away.

Big speakings, and loyal rallies were frequent, and eloquent speakers frequently, came to Hutsonville to talk of the war, and to encourage enlistments for the front. It is doubtful if anywhere in America could two more unanimously loyal towns be found that Hutsonville, Crawford County, and York, Clark Ccounty, Illinois. If anything, York was just as true to the cause of the union as Hutsonville, but the fighting blood did not crop out at York to the marked degree it did at Hutsonville, and so there were not so many nor so violently hot times in the old town of York as there were at Hutsonville. Since that time, Hutsonville has increased in population and extent, though it does not seem so to me, but York has almost passed into a state of absolute inocuous destitude, and had dwindled from perhaps nearly 800 people to not more that three hundred. If indeed, so many even as that remain.

While York was a good little town during the war, yet it was not so good a business place during those strenuous days as was Hutsonville, and, of course, the railroad having missed it, it can no longer be mentioned in importance with its ancient rival, along with Darwin, ten miles north of York, which was also a very good little business point before, during, and for a few years after the Civil War. Hutsonville, when the Kinneys and Adamses, run the hotels, Prestons, Bill Draper, Jack Hurst, the Harnesses, the Ploughs, the Canadays, the Davises and the Parkers run the business instutions of the town, and when the river front was graced by a splendid harbor, and boats from the Ohio and the Mississippi were constantly coming and going, was a fine little town, and a splinded business place in a small way, as it is now, and always has been. I have always loved Hutsonville. It was here and at York I played as a boy. It was at Hutsonville I taught my third school, the first along with Sam Bennet, the second with my cousin and dearest boyhood friend and relative: P. G. Bradbury; and it was in Hutsonville, as before said, that I found my wife, in the person of Stella Wilhite, the daughter of James and Nancy Wilhite, and it was here also that Sam Bennett, found his life companion, in the person of Mattie Draper. Both of whom went to school to Sam and I, and, as intimated in my former letter, my part in this dual transaction, alone, would make it imperative, that dear old Hutsonville should linger in my heart and brain and soul untill the great transition comes to me.

And then, too, think of the good friends like Dr. Eaton, Milt Rackerby, Will Hurst, Allen and Steve Newlin, Clint Newlin, one of my namesakes, Lawrence Newlin, Dr. Cullop, Will Holiday, Jack and Jimmy Lindley, Mart Newlin, Dr. Ryerson, John Thomas, the Draper boys, the Holdermans, boys and girls, Warren Martin, John Shore, Minnie Hurst, the widow of dear old Lush Hurst, Ella Hurst, both the latter pupils of mine during my pedagogic days, Mrs. Rogers, and many more I might mention, whom I knew in the long ago, and whom I have known long and well, and whose faces crowding around me now, along with many more whose faces are no longer seen among the living, but who have crossed the Great Divide.

Ah, how I remember the many happy hours I have spent at dear old Hutsonville. How well I remember when Sam Bennett and I opened our first school there, and when my cousin, P.G. Bradbury, whom I could never get enough of in boyhood days, and in the days of our early manhood before manhood's duties separated us, also opened our fall term of school there. How well I remember Andy Cox, his wife, C. Cox , Mrs. Holderman, with whom I boarded when we taught at Hutsonville, old Uncle Jack Hurst, W. P. Draper who was always a good friend of mine, and who gave me much good advice; and how sweetly there lingers in soul and brain the remembrance of the time when I first saw my mate, in the form of a fifteen year old school girl, and about the same time that Sam Bennett saw his in an fifteen year old school girl; and how there still linger in heart, brain and soul, the best scene of all and which makes Hutsonville peculiarly dear to me that in which the Methodist Episopal church at Hutsonville, in the presence of the whole people of the town, on July 22, 1875, I was so fortunate as to lead to the marriage altar she, who, in my mind and eye, at least, was Hutsonville's fairest daughter. Do you wonder that I love Hutsonville, along with Old York, as to me at least, the two most interesting and never to be forgotten spots on all this big round earth today, as at the age of 68 years, my mind runs over and jots down the milestones which are set there? The place of our birth, the place of our marriage, and the place of our transition, are indeed the three most interesting and tender, or should be in all our journey, be it long or short, from the cradle to the grave.

H.C. Bell

James Ormiston, who formerly lived near West York and for almost two years had visited in California, returned from there last week. He attended the "Old Settlers" meeting here Thursday. Mr. Ormiston is still using a crutch as a result of a broken leg received in Los Angeles in January, 1914, by being struck by an automobile.


This page last updated on February 05, 2015.