By Charlene Shields
Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."
Copyright ©2000 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."
In "A History of Southern Illinois," by George Washington Smith, which
was published in 1912, the author has this to say about the early-day
wild pigeon roosts in White County:
Mr. Hay has written an account of a wild pigeon roost in White County
that will preserve a bit of local history to posterity. In an early day,
probably from 1840 to 1870, the wild pigeon was a semi-annual visitor to
many localities in Illinois. The writer remembers a wild pigeon roost in
Greene County just after the Civil War. In White County there was one
roost just at the south edge of White, a few miles west of New Haven;
another a short distance northwest of the town of Enfield. The latter
was the larger and the one used the longer.
In the spring of the year the pigeons would go north to rear their
young. In the fall they would return in great swarms that blackened the
sun. They would feed on the acorns and other mast through the day, and
late in the afternoon they would begin to gather for the night's
roosting. They lighted upon the limbs of the great white oak trees. They
clung to each other just as bees do when they "settle" after swarming.
They weighted the great trees so that limbs broke, killing thousands of
birds. People came many miles to see these pigeon roosts. Many people
would kill them with long poles, hauling away their "catch" in wagons.
The noise of the birds' wings, the breaking limbs and the chattering of
the pigeons could be heard for miles. Mr. Hay says that no pigeons have
been seen in the Wabash Valley since 1874.
For Mr. Hay's complete story on the pigeons and other early White County
phenomena, you might wish to refer to a little book in our library, "A
Matter of History." Or better still, drop in and purchase a copy for
$10. Makes a good stocking stuffer at Christmas.
CEMETERIES: The weather will soon be more favorable to our volunteers
get out and read tombstones. Some volunteers have had to resign. We're
now needing someone to read Centerville and Mt. Pleasant in Burnt
Prairie Township; most of the cemeteries in Emma Township; Springerton
in Mill Shoals Township; Stokes Chapel in Phillips Township and West
Union in Carmi Township. Plus there are still many cemeteries which no
one has ever volunteered for. Give me a call at 966-3744 or visit the
Genealogy Library on Wednesdays.
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The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley
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