Calhoun County
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1934 History of Calhoun County

Chapter 3 ~ Early Settlers

THE FIRST PERMANENT WHITE SETTLER

The first white settler to make his home in what is now Calhoun was a man named O'Neal. He came in the year 1801 and settled in Point Precinct at the Two Branches. Although his name might lead us to think otherwise, one account says that he was a French trapper and had made his way there from Acadia.

He lived in Point Precinct a number of years before any other settlers came to that region, and when they did come he refused to mingle with them. He lived in a small cave which he had dug, and which was located about a quarter of a mile from the Mississippi River. He continued to live in this cave until his death in 1842, and after that he was referred to as "The Hermit" due to the fact that he would not visit the other settlers or allow them to come to his place. In 1850, Soloman Lammy, who then owned the farm upon which the cave was located, dug up the boards of the floor and leveled the sides on which large saplings were then growing.

THE FRENCH SETTLERS

The next settlers were French trappers and some half breeds, who started a colony about a mile above the Deep Plain Ferry, on the Illinois River, in the southern part of the county. They remained until about 1815 when they were driven out by the very high water.

Another French settlement was located at Cap au Gris (which means Cape of Grit or Grindstone). This place was located at the present site of West Point Ferry, in Richwoods Precinct. The French settlers who lived here came sometime after 1800 and by the year 1811 there were 20 families, who had a small village on the bank of the river, and cultivated a common field of about 500 acres. This field was located on the level land about a mile from the site of their town. One writer said that these families were driven away by the Indians in 1814, but there is some doubt as to the accuracy of the statement as John Shaw who took part in battles near the place and who mentions all attacks made on Missouri people makes no mention of any harm coming to the settlers at Cap au Gris.

OTHER EARLY SETTLERS

In the year 1811 Major Roberts arrived and settled near the present site of Brussels, on a farm later known as the "Henry Kiel place". He made the journey from Ohio in a keel boat, and landed at the present site of Bloom's landing, on the Illinois River.

John Shaw arrived in 1821. He had taken part in the Indian wars along the Mississippi River and had become acquainted with all of the territory between that river and the Illinois. He purchased much land in the county in the neighborhood of Gilead, Guilford, Belleview, and Hamburg. His decision to come to Calhoun was quite an important one, as will be explained later.

Joshua Twichell arrived in May, 1822, with a large family. He came in a keel boat and landed at Coles Grove (now called Gilead). He had been a blacksmith in New York state and after coming here he engaged in his trade at Coles Grove for about a half year and then moved to the present site of Brussels where he started a shop. His son, Chesley, brought iron from St. Louis in a canoe and this iron was afterwards used in making the first iron plow that was ever used in the county. Mr. Twichell also ironed the first wagon used in the county. This wagon was made by Mr. Twichell for his son-in-law, Major Roberts.

Samuel Smith emigrated from Pittsburg in 1822 and built a house in a field that was later owned by Marion Todd, and which was located near the Point Pleasant School, in Point Precinct. About the same time the Mettz family moved into the county and settled at the present site of Brussels. Mr. Mettz cleared a patch of land and constructed his home near a large spring.

In 1826 Robert Andrews, the grandfather of Thomas Andrews, came from Detroit where he had been one of the first settlers. He settled in what was known as the "Cresswell Settlement." Nathanial Shaw came in 1821 and settled where the old Schulze homestead is now located, southeast of Brussels.

Captain Nixon and Ben Carrico settled along the Mississippi, near the Jacob Auer farm, in Point Precinct. Asa Carrico settled on the farm now owned by Mrs. Agnes Carpenter at Deer Plain. Another influential citizen of early Calhoun was Captain Marcus Aderton who owned a large tract of land near the Robert Andrews place. Some of the other families that settled in the Brussels neighborhood in the early days were the Roys, Marshalls, Stiles, Lates, Clines, and Greambas.

Judge Ebenezer Smith arrived in Calhoun on the 10th day of May, 1819. He said there were only five settlements in the county at the time. He settled south of the present site of Hardin, and he is said to have been the first man to set out an orchard in the county. The small orchard was started a short time after his arrival in the county. Mr. Smith found a trading post in the neighborhood which was kept by a French-Canadian. In order to be free from the danger of drunken Indians in the community, he bought the trading post, and then destroyed it.

John Ingersol arrived in the county about 1823 and settled at Guilford, five miles south of the present site of Hardin. A few years later he moved to the spring south of the A. C. Squier place. The Ingersol home was one of the first places in the county that was used as a place where church services were held.

Jacob Pruden arrived in the county in 1829 and bought the farm that is now owned by the Mortland family. A Mr. Still, who sold the farm to Pruden, was afraid to stay in the neighborhood saying "the place was full of wolves and rattlesnakes". Charles Squiers came to the county in 1833 and in the spring of 1834 Pruden and he built a school house in Mortland Hollow.

There were other early settlers who came before or shortly after 1830, hut most of them will be mentioned in connection with the founding of certain villages and communities.

THE MILITARY LANDS

The territory between the Mississippi and the Illinois Rivers was known to the early settlers as the "Military Lands" or the "Military Tract”. The government of the United States set aside three and a half million acres of land lying between these two rivers, the land to be given to soldiers who served in the War of 1812. The soldiers who enlisted before December 10, 1814 were given 160 acres of land, while those enlisting after that date were given 320 acres. Most of the land was surveyed in 1816 and 1817 but the rush of settlers did not begin until 1823. Much of the land in this section of the state was owned by speculators and other people living in the east and this hindered the settlement of the region. Many of the soldiers who fought in the war, claimed the land that was due them, but immediately sold the land to speculators. In 1833 there were 139 pieces of land in Calhoun County that were to be sold for taxes, and but 34 of these pieces of land were then owned by the people to whom they had been assigned.

By studying the lists of the early settlers and the lives of the parents of the people who lived in the county at a later time, we find that very few of the first settlers were men who had taken part in the War of 1812. But due to the fact that the government had set aside this land for the soldiers, it became well known and caused other settlers to know about the region and finally settle in it themselves.

Extracted 20 May 2017 by Norma Hass from History of Calhoun County, pages 11-13.


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