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 Barry Cleveland, editor, "The Carmi Times."

A tip to help read older tombstones

Have you cemetery-reading volunteers been taking advantage of the
weather for the past several weeks? Several people have been working in
Phillips Township. Marilyn Cobb turned in her readings of both old and
new Phillipstown Cemeteries. That's a lot of work for just one person.
Kathleen Greene of Portland, Ore., an indefatigable genealogist, had
once suggested using those chunks of blue carpenter's chalk to bring out
the lettering on the old stones. I found some of that chalk at Rister's
Hardware in Crossville and told proprietor Rick Stone how I planned to
use it. He suggested I wait until after Halloween in case someone who
saw me marking tombstones here and there might think I was performing
some kind of pagan ritual.

I did use this blue chalk at Charles Cemetery at Calvin. This is an
extremely old cemetery (the death date on one stone was 1817), and the
stones had so much lichens and other "stuff" on them, I had previously
estimated that we wouldn't be able to read more than half of them. I was
amazed how the chalk brought out the spelling and dates. Also, I found
if I'd go back at a different time of day so the sun would be shining in
a different direction, I might be able to make out something which I
had not been able to read previously. I wanted to read everything
possible, as the cemeteries probably won't be re-read for another 50
years--and by then lots of those old stones will have completely

Anyway, all of this is just a pep talk to try to get all you volunteers
out and working. And there's still about half of the cemeteries for
which no one has volunteered.

Don and Kay Cherry of Houston, Texas were here this summer doing
research. Our library has received a great packet of materials from
them, mainly on Willis CHERRY. They think he might have had a ferry
business, and noted he had a $400 repair bill for a boat at the time of
his death. They quoted from material they had copied while here:

"From the 1830s, the settlers went by canoe up the Wabash to
Vincennes to get seed corn, lead and powder and other supplies or to
Shawneetown after 1812 to do their banking and get their land entries
recorded.... Where the Illinois Territory was carved out of the
Northwest Territories and the frontier was a place of peril, Indian
scout fur traders and trappers came into this section and stayed for
short periods of time, and Vincennes, Ind. was the fortress to which
they fled and reported when necessary. From that period until about
1860, a fearless man might venture into the forests, clear a small
patch of ground, raise corn and pumpkins and return to his family at the
fort for the winter. He usually lived in a rude hut or lean-to during
the summer.... Phillipstown and its vicinity, including Calvin, was one
of the earliest settled communities in southeastern Illinois. In its
early history, it included (under the name of Fox Island Precinct) not
only the present township of Phillips but parts of Gray and Hawthorne.
It was directly on the old Indian trails from Vincennes to Shawneetown
and in the 1860s, a daily four-horse stage traveled between the two


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