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PICHEREAU, Arcene

Arcene PICHEREAU is a well-known citizen of Marshall county, and is now living a retired life in the city of Lacon. He was one of a colony of fifteen persons who left Leman, France, in 1833, for the new world. This colony was fitted out by one of Napoleon’s old captains, a nobleman of France, named Louis De GUILBERT, and sailed from Havre for New Orleans.

It was the intention of the colony to locate in Tennessee, but the promises held out by the Tennessee agents were not fulfilled, and hearing of the condition of Illinois after the Black Hawk war, it was decided to try that favored country. Arriving at St. Louis, the colony secured passage on the steamer “Bee” up the Illinois river to Pekin. De GUILBERT selected a site at Black Partridge, where he erected a saw and grist mill that he had brought from Paris, and set his little colony to work. Some seven years later the colony scattered and De GUILBERT himself settled in Tazewell county, and became an industrious farmer, where he died some fifteen years later, and was soon followed by his wife. Their son, Louis D GUILBERT, now resides on Richland creek, Woodford county, and with our subject is the only survivor of that little colony.

The mill at Black Partridge furnished Lumber for the Peoria market. That place was then known as Fort Clark, and was not much like the Peoria of to-day. The mill did a good business, people hauling their logs to it for twenty-five or thirty miles around. It was known as the French mill.

Another well-known person who came to America on the same vessel bringing the colony was John B. DUCHESNE. He had been educated for the priesthood, but was married in St. Louis, and reared a family, of whom three sons served in the army during the civil war. He also located near Black Partridge, abut later came to Marshall county, finally locating on Coon creek, but spending his last days in Lacon, dying in 1893.

Jaque PICHEREAN, the father of our subject, was a day laborer. His wife and daughter died of cholera at New Orleans soon after landing from the vessel. He subsequently married Mrs. ROCK, who resided near Metamora, and surviving her, late in life married another estimable lady. He first located at Black Partridge, where he resided until advanced in years, when he removed to Lacon, and there died in 1875, in his ninety-third year. The only surviving member of the family is our subject.

Mr. PICHEREAU, of whom we now write, was a lad of eleven years when the colony came to the Untied States. When twelve years old he commenced work at the carpenter’s trade. He scored and hewed timber, helped put up log cabins, and made clapboards for the roof. When no work was to be had at his trade he made rails, and was an expert at the business. In 1836, he says, he had all the work that he could do in fencing gardens with palings, that kind of work being in great demand. In winter he would make ox bows and sleds, which had a ready sale. In 1838 there was a great demand for shingles, the people but then commencing to use shingle roofs. He would hew the rafters and rim out the slats on which to nail the shingles. About this time the people also began to use clapboard siding, and in due time to have frame houses. Mr. PICHEREAU, with other carpenters, was obliged to hew all the framing timbers, and it can be surmised the frames would be strong. He remained with his father at Black Partridge until 1839, when he came to Marshall county. He left the colony because of a desire to become better acquainted with the English language. He liked the Americans and their ways and wished for a time to live among them.

On coming to Marshall county, he secured work with Colonel John STRAWN, who paid “clean cash,” about the only man in the county that did so. He made forty-five thousand shingles for him and helped frame the large barn on his place, which is one hundred and twenty feet long and forty feet wide. He made the greater part of the siding used and helped nail on the clapboards. The barn was erected under the superintendency of Deusel HOLLAND, who was a good carpenter. The shingles used on this barn stood the wind and weather for fifty-two years, the south side being re-shingled in 1896. After working for Mr. STRAWN for nearly seven years, he married his youngest daughter. Levicia STRAWN, the first white child born in Marshall county; the wedding ceremony was performed October 8, 1846. He then commenced farming on his own account, and soon had his place cleared, which yet remains in his possession. It is located near the old Strawn farm, in Richland township, and is regarded as one of the best in that locality. Here he lived from 1846 until 1865, when he removed to Lacon. While residing there for some years he engaged in the grain trade with fair success, also in the grocery business for about twelve years. In 1874 his wife died, leaving the following children: Victorine, now the wife of Joseph WALLACE, of Wichita, Kansas; Arcene J., of Madison, Iowa; Josephine, now the wife of Gus MOATZ, of Kansas City, Missouri; Acil, an attorney, of Chicago, Illinois; Frank, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Hortense, wife of Kenyon LEVOUS, of Kansas City, Missouri.

For his second wife, Mr. PICHEREAU married Mrs. Maggie D. ARNOLD, a native of Lacon, and a daughter of Henry L. CRANE, and widow of Frank ARNOLD. By this union there is one daughter, May. By her first marriage, Mrs. PICHEREAU had one daughter, Laura, wife of James HOWARD, of Lacon. Mr. CRANE, the father of our subject’s wife, was a native of New Jersey, but came to this county at a very early day – he was a popular and much respected citizen, and served two terms as sheriff; he was one of the best masons and builders in this section of the county.

After residing in Lacon a few years, Mr. PICHEREAU returned to the farm, where he remained until 1885, when he again took up his home in Lacon, where he has since continued to reside. His career has been somewhat remarkable. Coming to this country a very poor boy, he has worked hard and been rewarded with much of this world’s goods. As a boy he was quick with tools, and for a time was engaged as clerk in a furniture store. As a man his strength was tremendous. At one time he lifted thirteen hundred pounds on a pair of scales. In height he is full six feet, and his weight has varied from two hundred to two hundred and seventy-five pounds.

Mr. PICHEREAU has ever been a lover of liberty. Even as a boy he rebelled against the demands of the Catholic church and the priesthood, and has always been an admirer of Tom Paine and Voltaire, and for what they stood in liberty and freedom from priestly domination. The United States has always been to him the home of the free, and he has ever had an unbounded faith in its possibilities. He has been a man of peace, and many quarrels have been settled by his intervention. Powerful in physique, his blow would have felled an ox. He was a dangerous enemy and outspoken in his views. A fluent conversationalist, he could at any time entertain a crowd of eager listeners.

Extracted April 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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