Reminiscences of Mrs. Lewis 1896
Mrs. Lewis Writes of Early Recollections
Lived In Holderman's and In Big Grove
Originally published in the Sandwich Argus
Re-published in the Kendall County Record, July 22, 1896
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson
Many years ago, as far back as 1829, my father emigrated from Kentucky to Illinois and located at Mackinaw for the winter. The following spring we came north as far as Holderman's Grove, where my father rented Henry Holderman's farm for that season.
In the same year father pre-empted a farm of his own and built a log house on it. We moved into the new house, having only a dirt floor and neither windows nor doors.
Scarcely were we settled before there were rumors of war with the Indians, who were beginning to be very troublesome in some parts of the country. We did not realize how active a part we would be compelled to take or the great damages to be braved in those perilous times. Nor the need to leave our home at only a moment's warning, as so many had done, to seek safety in flight. One afternoon a friendly half-breed came to my father and asked him if he intended to stay there all night. He answered that he did, not thinking of the immediate danger to us. The Indian replied, "Me think you had better not, for there be some bad Sock Indians close around."
My father did not wait to be surprised, but ordered the man who was plowing with oxen in the garden to hitch the two yoke to the wooden wheel cart, such as when then used for drawing prairie plows about from place to place. After putting in two feather beds, my mother with two children beside myself was helped in. Without making any further preparations we started for the fort at Ottawa. We reached the fort about sunrise next morning, safe and sound, but thoroughly drenched. A terrible storm came up in the night, which added to the terror of the situation. Perhaps the storm helped to save our lives.
At the close of the Black Hawk War, we came back to the same farm, which is now known as the Lott Scofield place. I spent my childhood there. It was nothing unusual even then for Indians to make us frequent visits, and with threats and brandishing of tomahawks demand something to eat. Which, I assure you, we always gave them for we had learned by sad experience how treacherous they were. We believed that the only safe Indian was a dead one, so we made an effort to keep peace with them.
When old enough to attend school, my brother and myself walked a mile and a half through thick woods. There was nothing to guide us but a tree blazed on either side of where the path ought to be. We saw wolves and deer by the hundreds and no end of snakes, owls, and wild animals of various kinds. They filled our young hearts with indescribable fear and terror.
My first recollection of hearing anyone preach was at my father's house by a circuit preacher by the name of Moreland. He spoke one Monday at four o'clock in the afternoon. The people were so anxious to hear the gospel that they came from miles around in ox teams. They would all be dressed in their Sunday best. The ladies were in calico dresses and sunbonnets, which was the style in those days. Such a friendly feeling existed between the old settlers. They thought nothing of going in their ox teams to spend the evening with a neighbor four or five miles away. Although restricted and limited, it seems to me they were happier and more content in those days than we are now.
In 1854, I came to sandwich, which then consisted of four or five houses. The little red school house and the Baptist Church. The church was dedicated in the winter of 1854-5. Since that time, with the exception of nine years, I have lived here and seen the town grow to its present prosperity, with its shops, city water, electric lights, weekly papers, lovely homes, and its many avenues of beautiful trees. It is with a feeling of pride I note all these changes and am happy to think I am still one of the residents. I hope to always call Sandwich my home. Signed Mrs. M. E. Lewis
Previous page: Story of the Hollenbacks and the Phillips brothers.
Next page: Martha Lewis 1910