Our Ancestors and the Start of Sangamon County, IL (Part 2)
Part 1 told of the general experiences of the first European-American pioneers in what we now know as Sangamon County, Illinois. It took a special breed of people to venture out into the unknown land and find ways to survive in the unfamiliar, unspoiled land. The early settlers were the ones who eventually followed the pioneers into the territory and helped (as settlers would) settle the land.
Our ancestors Robert (1784 – 1840) and Ann (McNary) Blue (1786 – 1820) and his brother John (1777 – 1841) and his wife [and Ann’s sister] Elizabeth (McNary) Blue (1782 – 1849) and their children were among the first settlers to this central Illinois county.
John C. and Sarah A. Power in their book, History of the early settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois: “centennial record” (published January 1876 by Edwin A. Wilson & Co., found on Google eBooks), shared a bit of the history of the John Blue family as among those early settlers. Here is the bio of the Blues found in that book (I have typed it exactly as it is found in the book; what look like typing mistakes simply represent how the language has changed over the last 130+ years):
BLUE, JOHN, was born Sept 9, 1777, in South Carolina. His father was a soldier in the Revolutionary army, and was taken prisoner by the British the very day of his birth. His parents moved to Fleming county, KY., when he was quite young. Elizabeth McNary was born in South Carolina, and taken by her parents to Fleming county, KY., also. They were there married about 1806, had seven children in that county, and then moved to Hopkins county, where they had four children. About 1823 they moved to Green county, O., [Ohio] where they had two children, and then moved to Sangamon county, arriving in the fall of 1830, in what is now Clear Lake township.
MARTHA married Robert Blue, had six children and died.
SAMUEL married Isabel Webb, had eight children, and resides in Missouri.
DAVID H., born Sept. 23 1816, in Fleming county, KY., married in Sangamon county May 19, 1844, to Fannie Webb, They had two children, one of whom died young. MELISA C. married Abel P. Bice. David H. Blue resides two miles north of Barclay.
ELIZA married Adolphus Jones, had one child and all died.
WILLIAM M. born in Fleming county, KY., married in Sangamon county to Adaline Cline. They had five children. JAMES H. married Catharine Dunlap, had one child DORA E., and live in Fancy creek township. GEORGE W., LUCY, DAVID and PARTHENIA, live with their mother. William M. Blue enlisted in Aug., 1862, in Co. C, 114 Ill. Inf. for three years. He was killed at the battle of Guntown, Miss., June 10, 1864. His widow married M. Hardman, and lives near Cantrall.
HARRISON married Margaret Alexander. They had three children, and he died in Fancy creek township.
CAROLINE married Stephen Cantrall. They have six children, and live near Kansas City, MO.
AMOS went to Oregon when a young man, and resides in Jackson county.
John Blue died in 1842, and his widow in 1848, both in Sangamon county.
The Blue family had been early settlers in Kentucky, arriving there with a land grant after the Revolutionary War (the new federal government had lots of land but not much cash so paid many of their soldiers with land after the war). Moving west to Ohio, they settled in new territory again. The final move for John and Elizabeth (McNary) Blue was to Sangamon County, Illinois. Here they set about the work of domesticating the land so that more people could come and make good lives. The Hon. Milton Hay, continuing his speech at the 12th Annual reunion of the Sangamon County Old Settlers described the early settlers’ task this way:
In process of time came a class who desired progress in improvements and civilizations, and these men began the work. Not content with building for themselves the cabin to live in, they built the early log school houses and churches. They began the work of cultivating the soil for something more than their own personal wants; of opening farms and laying out roads. Then began the location of trading points and towns, and traders and mechanics came in to supply the wants of population. And so, step by step, population and improvement slowly increased. . . . Our trading was mostly a system of barter; an exchange of one article of produce for another; of corn for cattle, or cattle for horses, and of the produce of the farm for labor, manufactures or merchandise. Money as a medium of exchange was scarcely to be had, and hence but little was used. All this belonged to the period anterior to the introduction of railroads. With the facilities afforded by railroads for reaching quickly the great markets, came cash buyers and ready sales. These iron rails not only connected us with the commercial world, but along them came the quickened pulsations of a more commercial life. This quick and ready intercourse with the commercial world, soon affected our old habits and usages, our fashions and modes of doing business. We set about to adapt ourselves to a changed condition of affairs.”