OLD SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION.
Oh! A wonderful stream is the river of time,
As it runs through the realm of tears.
With a faultless rhythm, and a musical rhyme,
And a broader sweep, and a surge sublime,
As it blends in the ocean of years.
--B. F. Taylor.
It is not strange that among the pioneer settlers of any new country a
deep-seated and since friendship should spring up, that would grown and
strengthen with their years. The incidents peculiar to life in a new country-the
trials and hardships, privations and destitutions-are well calculated to test
not only the physical powers of endurance, but the moral, kindly, generous
attributes of manhood and womanhood. They are times that try men's souls, and
bring to the surface all that there any be in them of either good or bad. As a
rule, there is an equality of conditions that recognizes no distinctions. All
occupy a common level, and, as a natural consequence, a brotherly and sisterly
feeling grows up that is as lasting as time, for "a fellow feeling makes us
wondrous kind." With such a community there is a hospitality, a kindness, a
benevolence and a charity unknown and unpracticed among the older, richer and
more densely populated ommon-wealths. The very nature of their surroundings
teaches them "to feel each other's woe, to share each other's joy." As injury or
a wrong may be ignored, but a kindly, generous, charitable act is never
forgotten. The memory of old associations and kindly deeds is always fresh.
Raven locks may bleach and whiten; full, round cheeks sink and hollow the fire
of intelligence vanish from the organs of vision; the brow become wrinkled with
care and age, and the erect form bowed with accumulating years, but the true
friends of the "long ago" will be remembered as long as life and reason endure.
The surroundings of pioneer life are well calculated to test the "true
inwardness" of the human heart. As a rule, the men and women who first occupy a
new country-who go in advance to spy out the land and prepare it for the coming
of a future people-are bold, fearless, self-reliant and industrious. In these
respects, no matter from what remote section or country they may come, there is
a similarity of character. In birth, education, religion and language there may
be a vast difference, but, imbued with a common purpose---the founding and
building of homes-these differences are soon lost by association, and thus they
become one people, united by a common interest, and, no matter what changes may
come in after years, the associations thus formed are never buried out of
In pioneer life there are always incidents of peculiar interest, not only to the
pioneers themselves, but which, if properly preserved, would be of interest to
posterity, and it is a matter to be regretted that the formation of "Old
Settlers' Associations" has been neglected in son many parts of the country. The
presence of such associations in all the counties of our common country, with
well kept records of the more important events, such as dates of arrivals,
births, marriages, deaths, removals nativity, etc., as any one readily see,
would be the direct means of preserving to the literature of the country the
history of every community, that, to future generations, would be invaluable as
a record of references and a ready method of settling important questions of
controversy. As important as these associations are admitted to be, their
formation has not yet become general, and there are many counties in the Western
country whose early history is entirely lost because of such neglect and
indifference. Such organiztions would possess facts and figures that could not
be had from any other source. Aside from their historic importance, they would
serve as a means of keeping alive and further cementing old friendshipd and
renewing among the members associations that were necessarily, interupted by the
innovations of increasing population, cultivating social intercourse, creating a
charitable fund for the benefit of such of their members as might become victims
of misfortune or adversity.
Actuated by such motives as those above outlined, and in pursuance of a call
published in the Carroll County newspapers in June, 1874, a large number of the
old settlers met under the tent on the Carroll County Agricultural Fair Grounds,
on the 2d day of September following, for the purpose of organizing an OLD
SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION. D. W. Dame stated the object of the meeting. Luther H.
Bowen was made temporary chairman, and John Irvine was chosen temporary
secretary. The secretary read the names of over two hundred old settlers then
living in the county, which he had collected from the best sources of
information. The meeting then proceeded to the election of permanent officers,
resulting as follows:
President-Luther H. Bowen, of Savanna, by acclamation.
Secretary-Samuel Preston, of Mount Carroll, also by acclamation.
On motion of Dr. E. Woodruff, of Savanna, it was agreed that all persons who
were residents of the county previous to 1850, should be recognized as old
settlers and entitled to membership of the association. [This proposition was
subsequently amended,, and in the adoption of the constitution and by-laws,
section two declared any one entitled to membership who had been a resident of
the county twenty-one years.]
On motion of Mr. Monroe Bailey, it was
Resolved, That in order to make the association a progressive institution, that
a residence of twenty-five years shall be held to constitute an Old Settler, and
a member of this association.
The following gentlemen-one from each township-were then elected vice presidents
of the association.
Washington-S. E. Hodges.
Rock Creek-C. Hegerman.
Cherry Grove-J. G. Garner.
York-N. D. French.
Fair Haven-C. McMullen.
Nelson, Fletcher, Monroe Bailey and Elias Woodruff were elected as an Executive
Committee, and John Irvin, N. Fletchet and D. W. Dame were chosen to draft a
constitution and by-laws for the government of the association.
The meeting then adjourned to meet again on the Fair Grounds on Thursday,
October 8, 1874.
The meeting of Thursday, October 8, 1874, was a very large and pleasant one-the
Old Settlers and their friends to the number of five hundred being present. The
exercises of the day were commenced by a quartette of the Mount Carroll Glee
Club singing a song, composed for the occasion by Dr. George R. Moore, and set
to music by Mr. James Irvine, as follows:
Sing, oh! Sing of the days when all was new,
Ere the plowshare had vexed the sod;
When the hills and plains lay full in view,
As they came from the hand of God.
When the fruitful earth
Gave a willing birth
To a sea of nodding bloom.
As the rolling swell of the prairie green,
Danced up to the wood in its summer sheen.
Like a bride to a fairy groom.
As we spoke with a trill,
And worked with a will,
And thought with a thrill,
Of the homes we would build,
In a land where all was new.
What a happy trill, a resolute will, and a joyous thrill.
In the homes we would build,
For the sunlight to gild,
In a land where all was new.
Gaily sing of the days when all was new,
When the wood heard the echoing swell
Of the shining ax of builders true,
As the pride of the forest fell.