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."
The Centennial Edition of the White County Democrat carried an article
about a Mill Shoals pioneer which it said was taken from the Democrat
files. So that gives no clue at all when this article appeared in the
newspaper. Accompanying the article is a picture of Towle Simpson and
his sawmill. The article is quoted:
"Mill Shoals Township is the home of Towle Simpson, well-known on the
western side of the county. Towle Simpson has never aspired to shine as
a big man, nor has he tried to cut a wide swath of any kind. But
nevertheless, he is entitled to distinction for the grit and enterprise
with which he has stuck to his business.
"At the age of 75, Mr. Simpson, hale and hearty and jolly, is running
threshing machine and doing it well. He can do it well because he has
back of him more than half a century of experience....
"Mr. Simpson owned and operated the first threshing machine in Mill
Shoals Township. In 1854 he was running an old 'ground hog' separator
with horsepower. A majority of the people of White County never saw one
of these old machines. The grain was beaten out of the straw, and the
two were run from the machine together, to be separated by hand and fan
"Mr. Simpson threshed all winter in those days, many times having to
scrape the snow from the wheat stacks. He has threshed an average of
20,000 bushels each year since starting with his first machine.
"As the years went by and improvements were made, Mr. Simpson kept
pace with the times. He bought the first traction engine owned in Mill
Shoals Township; probably the first one owned in the county. He likes
the work and steadfastly refuses to quit. When the threshing season is
over, he runs a saw mill. He is now talking of going to Arkansas for a
winter sawing, the timber having become too scarce here, and he talks
about it with the enthusiasm of a boy.
"We believe this record has not been equaled in the state of Illinois.
"In choosing his occupation and paying devotion to it, Towle Simpson has
won distinction that comes to few men. And it is more than likely that
in satisfaction and real happiness, he has surpassed many.
"Mr. Simpson has eight children living. Two sons, John and Thomas, help
him with his business."
Is Towle Simpson another name for Tolliver? There was a Tolliver
Simpson, son of Tolliver Simpson, who was son of William Simpson who
early settled in Mill Shoals Township and on into Wayne County. I cannot
find anything about a "Towle" Simpson. Mill Shoals genealogists
probably can help me out on this.
"What is the future? What is the past? What are we? What magical fluid
surrounds us and hides from us those things we most need to know? We are
born, we live, we die in the midst of the marvelous."--Napoleon (in a
letter to his wife, Josephine)
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