Marshall County
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1880 Records of the Olden Time

Published in 1880 and authored by Spencer Ellsworth, Records of the Olden Time is full of many biographies, portraits, and illustrations. The first 600 pages offer incredible stories. Excerpts have been provided below and throughout this site.

Belle Plain - First Births, Deaths and Marriages - Page 428

The first birth in Belle Plain Township is believed to have been that of Nancy Jane Bennington, now Mrs. William M. Hatton. She made her first appearance March 22, 1833. Robert Bennington's daughter Eunice, died about the same time, and her's is supposed to have been the first funeral.

The first wedding in the vicinity was probably that of Daniel Hester and Miss Hallam, when James Martin tied his first official matrimonial knot as Justice of the Peace. He says he will never forget the occasion, as there were present nearly all of his neighbors large and small, beside a number of strangers dressed in "store clothes," and he was so terribly "frustrated" that he hardly knows what he said or how he got through with it. He was at first somewhat encouraged when he observed that the bride and groom were both very nervous too, but when he came to hear the tremulous tones of his own voice in the awful stillness, he felt weak and faint-like and devoutly wished he had never in his life consented to be an Esquire. But he adds with commendable pride," The job was sufficiently good, as the marriage proved a happy one and no divorce court ever overhauled my work or picked flaws in it."

Sandy Precinct - Page 447

This was once an important political division of Marshall County. In 1833 it belonged to the jurisdiction of La Salle County, and on the 30th day of March of that year an election was held for justices of the peace and Constables. The exact spot whereon this important event transpired is not certain, but the best sources of information point out as the probable one a large log near the center of the settlement.

The poll books, in possession of Thomas Judd, Esq., do not mention more than that the voters were : Dudley Humphrey, John S. Hunt, John Darnell, Thomas Dixon, Benjamin Darnell, Thomas Judd, Abram Darnell, Barton Jones, Justus Jones, George Martin, Josiah W. Martin, Joshua Evans, Alvah Humphrey, Horace Gaylord and Lemuel Gaylord.

Justus Jones and Richard Hunt were elected Justices of the Peace, and Barton Jones and George Martin, Constables. The officers of the election were: Alvah Humphrey, Joshua Evans and Horace Gaylord, Judges, and Thomas Judd and George Martin, Clerks.

The Justices are said to have exercised their judicial functions with credit, and the Constables were sufficiently alert and active. There was but little legislation in those days. The law of kindness and mutual forbearance governed, and few sought to take advantages of a neighbor. Business transactions were conducted on the principles of right and perfect justice, and crime was unknown in this orderly community, so the officers and minions of the law had nothing to do. When misunderstandings arose friendly arbitration was invoked by both sides, and no appeal was sought.

On the 4th day of August, 1834, the electors met at the new log school house and voted for State officers. Joseph Duncan had fourteen votes for Governor, and William Kinney two; Benjamin Mills, ten for Representative in Congress; William Stadden, twelve for Sheriff; William Richey and Isaac Dimmick had a majority of all the votes cast for County Commissioners of La Salle County. There were in all sixteen votes cast at this election, being the same persons with one or two exceptions who voted at the first meeting.

In August, 1835, Thomas Judd and Justus Jones were elected Justices, and William Brown and Horace Gaylord, Constables.

In August, 1836, Stephen A. Douglas and John T. Stewart were candidates for Congress.

The former, on the Democratic side, received nine votes, and the latter, the Whig, ten votes. Up to this date politics had been little discussed in public. The settlers had come from the east and south, and each had brought with him some party predilictions, but party agitation had caused the voters of Sandy to take sides, with the result as indicated.

William Stadden and William Reddick, prominent citizens of Ottawa, were well known to the voters of this Precinct, and at this election the former was elected State Senator and the latter Sheriff.

At the Presidential election, November 7, 1836, party lines were drawn, and eight citizens of Sandy voted the Democratic ticket. The electors voted openly for the candidate of his choice.

In those days political papers had not begun to circulate and stir up that bitterness of feeling so characteristic of their efforts, and while men voted on different sides but little was said, and no violent language or work at the polls disturbed the good nature and serenity of the people.

The only newspapers in the West were at Galena, Springfield, Chicago or Varidalia, or at Terre Haute, Indiana, and when one happened to stray into the settlement it was a month or two in coming. Election tickets, a necessity of the secret ballot, had not been invented. The voter merely thrust his head in at the window of the polling place, and announced his preference of candidates, the clerks recording his name and tallying the vote opposite that of the candidate.

After a county election it was two or three weeks before the poll books were all in and the vote counted, and often a month or more would elapse before the result was definitely known throughout the county, and it required as many months to disseminate the result of a Presidential contest.

The general election of 1840 brought out the most of the voters of Sandy Precinct, as it did all over the country, and thirty-three votes were polled, sixteen Democratic and seventeen Whig, and this was the first time that Abraham Lincoln's name was conspicuously brought before the public. He was on the Whig ticket as one of the Presidential electors.

One of the voters at that election was Joseph Warner, who was then one hundred years old, and another was Lemuel Gaylord, also a very aged man, both soldiers of the revolution.

In April, 1843, the question of being attached to Marshall County was submitted to the legal voters of Sandy Precinct. The great distance from the County seat, Ottawa, seemed to be the only argument in favor of the proposition. But it WMS sufficient, and every vote was cast for the change. Bennington did the same. There was not then a single inhabitant in the present towns of Osage or Groveland, in La Salle County.

The next election, after this region had been attached to Marshall County, in August of that year, was held at the house of Enoch Dent, the name, "Sandy Precinct," being still retained, and including then the territory of what is now Evans and Roberts Townships.

Thomas Judd and William B. Green were elected Justices of the Peace, and W. T. Dimen and Albert Myers Constables. Among the well known citizens who voted were John O. Dent, R. E. Dent, Enoch Dent, Livingston Roberts, Andrew Burns, Thomas Patterson, Joshua Myers, C. S. Edward. Jervis Gaylord, Albert Myers, David Stateler, David Myers, George H. Shaw and James Hoyt in all forty-eight votes.

Sandy Precinct remained intact, consisting of the present towns of Evans and Roberts, till the adoption of Township organization in April, 1852. As some evidence of the rapid increase of population of Illinois, it might be mentioned here that in 1836 we had five electoral votes; in 1844 nine, in 1852 eleven.


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