Notes from the White County Historical Society

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."

A pioneer's story of the early West

Former Grayville citizen Bob Walsh, now of Mt. Vernon, Ill., comes in to visit the library from time to time. Recently he brought in some pictures from the early 1900s, and he brought along his mother's scrapbook.

As with many old scrapbooks, the clippings do not list the name of the newspaper in which they appeared or the date. There were many interesting items, but one especially caught my eye because of my Hon connection.

Mrs. Carson Hon was the former Mary Ellen Crowder, daughter of Phillip Jr. and Maria Bower Crowder. Philip Crowder Sr. was a colorful ancestor who fought with Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. Mary Ellen was born in 1848 and died in 1912. She married Carson Hon in 1866.

At some point she wrote to the local paper telling of some of her travels. The following article was written by Mrs. Carson Hon.

"The following is a short sketch of my travels. In 1849, my father and several uncles left Pike County, Ill. and went to California at the time of the gold rush and came back to Pike County near Quincy in 1850. They then made up a train and took their families; my father and mother had three children, one older than I and a brother younger. One sister was born on the Humboldt River on the way out, lived to be grown and passed away in 1916.

Those in the train included my grandfather Bower and Phillip Crowder Sr. and wife, daughter and son; my father, Phillip Crowder Jr. and family; John G. Bower and wife and three boys; Uncle Edwin Bower; and several friends and neighbors. They went somewhere in Missouri, I think it might have been Kansas City, and camped there until other emigrants joined them to make it safe to go on.

They then elected a captain and other officers. I was too young to remember, but have heard my parents tell about the trip. Most of the wagons were pulled by ox teams and also cows, for they drove the cows in the teams then.

We were about three months on the road, had no trouble with the Indians, and none of the crowd died on the way. We camped on the Humboldt, then went on to Yolo County, about six miles from Woodland and 2 1/2 miles from Cacheville, and settled. We lived in tents until my father made clapboards to build his house of oak trees.

My father, uncle and grandfather all had adjoining farms. Grizzly bears passed through our farms, going from the low hills to the sink or Cache Creek; that was a thicket and blackberry patch. Very little of Yolo County was settled at that time; later it was a great farming country.

l lived there until I was 18 years of age. At that time, there was no levee along the Sacramento River (now there is one about 18 feet high), and when the river was up, it flooded all of the land between Sacramento and Woodland.

In 1854 Carson Hon of Phillipstown, White County, came out there and worked part-time on the farm and part-time mining in the mountains."

The article will be concluded next week.

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