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The remainder of the letter breathes the anxieties of a patriot facing "strife, enmity, and anarchy if not disunion” as the inevitable aftermath of the election. The great problem of statesmanship is to reconcile the warring sections. And in its solution Bell can be of much assistance, for he possesses the hearts of a majority of his countrymen, Republican victory being that of a minority. Amid the apprehensions stirred by developments at the South, the sting of individual disappointment is slight. “I am very sure that you will regard personal defeat as of no account, in comparison with the dangers which threaten the stability of the republic. We have the consolation of feeling that we are not responsible for these calamities, but have made an honest effort to avert them. This reflection is far more valuable than all the trophies of victory.”5
Among the peace projects and resolutions hurriedly evolved on the eve of the Civil War, this effort of the BellEverett and Douglas leaders to agree on a common program for the control of New York and its pivotal vote should rank as not the least important. The idea rested on patriotism and good politics, a third party being manifestly a detriment to the fundamental ideals of either candidate. The stars in their courses willed otherwise. But the attempt should stand, as Hunt himself declared, to the credit of its authors.
5 John Bell Papers, Library of Congress. Lockport, N. Y., Nov. 21, 1860.
Washington Hunt to John Bell.
By A. T. STRANGE.
The early history of Montgomery county, Illinois, is practically a record of the work and activities of Hiram Rountree. The Judge, as he was commonly called, had more to do with the establishment, and early history of this county, than any other
He was born in Rutherford county, North Carolina, De cember 22d, 1794. His parents were Dr. John Rountree and Nancy Hawkins Rountree. From Mrs. George T. Barrett of Grove City, Illinois, who was Lura A. Rountree, a daughter of Bereroyal Rountree, brother of Hiram, we have this data as to his ancestry; "Hiram Rountree was the second child, and the oldest son, of Dr. John and Nancy Hawkins Rountree. The family of Dr. Rountree consisted of Nancy, Hiram, Jesse, Thomas, Lucinthia Cynthiana, John Hawkins, Rebecca Hawkins, Bereroyal Hawkins, Lucy Anderson, Rutherford Harrison, and Louisana Perry in the order as given. The father of Dr. Rountree, Thomas Rountree, was born in Goochland County, Virginia, and the Mother, Letitia was born in Rutherford county, N. C. Thomas Rountree lived in Virginia until a short time before his marriage. The Rountrees claimed to be of Scotch-Irish ancestry. The name was at an early day spelled Rowantree, but before the days of Hiram the "a" was dropped. The Kentucky branch and the family to which Mrs. Barrett belongs, continue to spell it Rowntree, but the Illinois branch changed the "w" to u. and have for a century spelled it Rountree."
Shortly after the birth of Hiram the Doctor removed to Kentucky, locating in the growing town of Bowling Green in Green County.
Here Hiram grew to young manhood, and with the encouragement of his parents secured a first class education. Just how he was able to acquire a good knowledge of Greek,
Latin, Mathematics, including Surveying and the study of Law, can only be accounted for by his wonderful ambition to learn, and his ability to acquire knowledge, for at the early age of eighteen the War of 1812 coming on, in compliance with the call of Governor Shelby of that state, he enlisted and was elected an Ensign, and with the troops under General Shelby marched against the British and Indian foes. Here I quote from Hiram Rountree's son, A. H. H. Rountree, “They crossed the Wilderness of Ohio to lake Erie and there embarked on Commodore Perry's fleet and sailed for Canada. After landing, they went in pursuit of the enemy. They soon over took the Brittish and their Indian allies on the river Thames and gave them battle, winning a remarkable victory, capturing General Proctor and his whole army. This great victory together with the death of Tecumseh led to the dispersion of the British forces, and ultimately, to the close of the war".
“On father's return to Kentucky he clerked several terms of Court, thus laying the foundation for his subsequent efficient work in the organization of Montgomery county. He also became a member of city Council of Bowling Green, where more valuable experience was his." From Bowling Green in 1817 he removed to Illinois, locating in Edwardsville, then the location of the Government Land Office, where he obtained employment. He also engaged in teaching school, teaching mainly the higher branches, or as his son says, “The Classics". Aaron continues “Here he taught school and on March 29th, 1818, he married one of his pupils, Miss Nancy B. Wright. Here also was born, his first child, now Mrs. E. R. A. Shumway of Taylorville, Illinois.” Mr. Chandler was then the Land Commissioner, and while in his employ he formed the acquaintance of Joel Wright and John Tillson, both from Boston, Mass., with whom he was intimately associated during the adventurous days of Montgomery county's formative period.
Here we quote from Mrs. John Tillson's Reminiscences of her Four Years in Montgomery County. “Mr. Tillson's first business on reaching Illinois, was with the Recorder of Deeds in Edwardsville, where he arrived in 1819. I think he left his papers with Mr. Randall, and went to Missouri, on land business. When he returned the office was so much crowded that nothing could be done for him. Mr. Randall proposed that he
enter the office as clerk and write until his deeds were recorded, which offer he accepted. Mr. Randall had two other young men employed as clerks, Hiram Rountree, now of Hillsboro, and Joel Wright now of Canton, Illinois.
While they were working in the office during the winter of 1819-20, two or three young men called on Mr. Randall to see if he would buy their land claims. They were specimens of the many disappointed Yankees who had "gone West,” spent all the money they had for land, and had not the means to get back to commence the world anew. The three young clerks, from compassion for the three young fellows, each bought a quarter section of land, paid them, and sent them home to their mammas rejoicing. The land was in territory, then in Bond County, some forty miles northeast of Edwardsville. Towards spring, there being a little ease of business in the office, they started in pursuit of their new possessions. They expected to make the distance in a day, but getting lost in a large prairie, they were obliged to camp, and were several days in finding the tracts, which were afterwards to be their homes. Mr. Rountree and Mr. Wright found their tracts just as nature made them, but Mr. Tillson found that there was a “Squatter” holding down his tract, and had to be bought off.”
After their return to Edwardsville in 1820 Mr. Rountree, to get near to his tract, took his family to an old fort that was located somewhere in the northern part of Bond County.
Here, it was thought they could be safe, until such time as they could locate on their newly acquired homestead. Later Mr. Rountree removed to a cabin in the Hurricane settlement near what was afterwards, the county line, between Bond and Montgomery County. During their stay here Mr. Rountree was necessarily much away from home, and Mrs. Rountree much alone. It was a trying time for her, with Indians frequently slipping into the cabin to steal or beg; and with wild animals, to be frequently seen and heard. Her son Aaron says, that on one occasion his mother caught an Indian trying to get away with a roll of sole leather, and she overtook him and made him return it to the cabin. Again he says that he had heard his father say that he had stood in his doorway and seen as many as four cub bears from his door.
It was while living here that the second child was born, Moses W. This child died soon after they located in Hillsboro and his grave was the first one dug in the Hilllsboro settlement.
Here again we quote from Mrs. Tillson, "The next winter 1820-21 he, Mr. Tillson, with Hiram Rountree, Isreal Seward, and Eleaser Townsend went with a petition to the Legislature, then in session, asking that a new county be formed from Bond and Fayette counties, (their lands being in the territory proposed to be in the new county), and the proposition was received favorably by the Legislature and the petition granted. Mr. Rountree was appointed to be temporary clerk of the county. Mr. Seward to be probate judge, Mr. Tillson to be county post master and Mr. Wright to be sheriff.
Mrs. Tillson continues, "The three men, Rountree, Tillson and Wright, began the building of a fairly good cabin on the Tillson tract, where there was already a cabin sufficient for shelter, and here the three batched for awhile. After getting the place in fairly good condition Mr. Tillson went back to Mass, telling Mr. Rountree that he would bring back with him a wife and a brother of hers, Mr. Rountree was asked to build a kitchen on to the house during his absence. This was done, and then Mr. Rountree went to his own tract.
Here we may say, that from such information as we have, Mr. and Mrs. Rountree had quite a number of children but only two lived to be grown, Mrs. Shumway already mentioned, and Aaron H. H. who became a banker of Hillsboro, and lived to a fairly old age, and who is succeeded by two children, Prof. H. P. Rountree of Chicago and Mrs. Etta Stubblefield of Hillsboro, Ill.
Judge Rountree was not a man to speak of his own deeds, he was a worker, but not a propagandist. He was a natural leader, by his forceful personality, and his efficient manner of taking the lead, thus impelling a following. His son Aaron H. H. became in later years the recorder in some slight degree of his father acts and activities, in the publication of a series of reminiscent articles in the Hillsboro papers, and from these we get our information largely. Here we quote from him, “Montgomery County with its broad expanse of timber and prairie land, drained by the three branches of Shoal Creek, previous to 1816 was inhabited only by the the red man. Robin Briggs,