Imágenes de páginas

by herds of horses and cattle. They built log cabins and took up their life in the new country. There were few railroads in Illinois at that time and the grain grown in Will County had to be hauled fifty miles or more to Chicago where it brought very low prices. There were many hardships; each family went through a yearly siege of malaria, but no one thought of returning to the east and no one was homesick.

After two years in Reed's Grove the family moved to Jackson's Grove and the school which Miss Buss attended was fortunate in having been in charge of a Miss Persons who had been educated at the Willard School in Troy, New York, and who was a born teacher. We do not know how it happened that Miss Persons had charge of this little frontier school, but we do know that her school was a most unusual one for the time and the place. Botany and astronomy were included in the curriculum and Miss Buss having learned to read when so very young was able to enter these classes at an usually early age. She remembers with pleasure the many ways in which Miss Persons made the class work interesting. For example, the class would gather at the home of one of its members and sit up with their teacher to study the stars as they appear before midnight, and at another time, at the home of another member, they would all retire early, to be awakened by Miss Persons after midnight, to study the constellations as they appeared in the early morning hours.

From a child, Miss Buss had aimed to become a teacher as her Father's sisters were, and in April after her fourteenth birthday went to Joliet to take the examination for a teacher's certificate. The examination was oral and no time was given to think out answers, but a thorough training in mental arithmetic and in grammar had given her the necessary equipment and she passed with ease. The county Superintendent placed

. the certificate in her hands with the remark that she was rather young to teach.

In May she began her first term of school in Will County, boarding around and receiving Ten Dollars a month for her services. This was in 1853.

Almost immediately the young teacher began to feel that she must have a better preparation for her life work and at sixteen she entered the academy at Conneaut, Ohio, where her uncle lived; here she remained for three years, teaching school in the summer terms near town. Returning to Illinois, she applied for the school she had attended near her home, but some of her former classmates still being in attendance, the directors felt that she might have difficulty with discipline. A little later they asked her to take the school and she taught there for six terms.

In 1863 occurred what Miss Buss considers one of the most important events of her professional life; she entered the Seminary at Dixon, Illinois as a pupil teacher. The head of the school was Professor Allen, formerly one of the faculty of Brooklyn Polytechnic, a fine man and a splendid teacher. Mr. Lathrop, head of the preparatory department of the Seminary, was Chaplain of the State Penitentiary at Joliet and his duties kept him away from the school part of each week. To Miss Buss was assigned the work of carrying on his classes under the guidance of Professor Allen; the knowledge gained under his leadership of the subject matter and the technique of teaching have been an inspiration to her to this day. Hearing of a vacancy in the High School at Wilmington in her home county, Miss Buss applied for and received the position in 1865, as the Civil War was closing; she remained there until 1900, a period of thirty-five years.

The school to which Miss Buss was assigned was a four room building on the site of the present structure. The new school was completed in 1871 and its first principal was Mr. Long who was followed by Mrs. Grover, and she by Mr. R. H. Beggs during whose term of five years the school was graded and greatly improved. Mr. Beggs organized a library, a literary society, and graduated the first High School class.

Miss Buss was always connected with the High School department at Wilmington and among other subjects taught literature, botany, physiology, grammar, and history there. She presided with power and with dignity over her classes; the joy she felt in living and in learning she communicated to her pupils. She gave them a real insight into their work and inspired them to make the most of their ability. In the long years given to her since the close of her notable term of service, she has kept them in her mind wishing them well and delighted at their success. In their turn they marvel at and rejoice in her ability to participate with enthusiasm in the life of today although belonging to a generation that has all but passed.

A visit with Miss Buss is a rare privilege; instead of finding a person afflicted with the infirmities natural to one of her years, one beholds a sprightly figure and finds her ever ready to enjoy a lecture, a luncheon, the opera, the latest book, a ride through the open country, or to undertake, as she has lately done, the long train journey to Atlanta, Georgia, alone, to visit relatives there. Her mind and her spirit have kept forever young.

[ocr errors]


BUT 694 CENTS PER YEAR. By D. E. KEEN, Mount Carmel, Illinois. If the sadly overburdened taxpayers of that portion of the State now constituting Cook County should waken some morn. ing to discover that the total cost of maintaining their courthouse for the preceding year had been but six and one-fourth cents, with other expenses almost in proportion, they would probably think, and no doubt with good cause, that the millenium had arrived; yet, the fact remains that at one time in the history of Illinois, the courthouse for what is now Cook County, together with a vast additional area of the State actually cost but six and one-fourth cents per year.

This occurred, of course, in the early portion of the last century before Cook County had any organized existence, when the process of cutting up the southern and more populous end of the State into counties of reasonable size, leaving the more ones of huge dimensions, had been in progress a comparatively short time.

The county of Edwards, when organized in 1814, comprised almost half the State of Illinois, and in addition extended northward to the line of Upper Canada, including a large portion of the State of Wisconsin as well as a considerable section of Michigan.

The capital for this vast territory was fixed by the act creating the county, at Palmyra, located a short distance above what was then called the Great Falls of the Wabash, but since known as the Grand Rapids, and about three miles up the Wabash from the city of Mount Carmel, the present beautiful capital of Wabash County.

The ill-fated town of Palmyra whose founders fondly hoped that it would some day rival Zenobia's famous capital of the East, was created on the twenty-second day of April, 1815 by Seth Gard & Co., composed of Seth Gard, Peter Keen, Gervase Hazleton, Levi Compton, and John Waggoner. Of the members of the above company, Messrs. Keen and Compton were great-grand-fathers of the present writer, while Seth Gard was a great uncle. Both Gard and Compton were men of no little prominence in their day, the former having been a member of the territorial and state legislatures, and the latter a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1818. Most of the men came from Virginia, but Peter Keen was from Hamilton County, Ohio, where he is reputed to have assisted in erecting the first cabin built in the city of Cincinnati.

The site of the new metropolis was chosen with a peculiar disregard for all conditions pertaining to the health of its people, and in direct defiance of warning by the Indians that "Red man die here; white man die too." It was on a sandy ridge bordering a sluggish bend in the river, where, in the summertime decaying vegetation sent out a constant miasmatic stench. Back of this sandy ridge was a series of swamps almost entirely surrounding it and adding their share to the unhealthfulness of the site. The water supply of the town was taken from a large spring at the river's edge which was, no doubt, the outlet for some of these poisonous swamps. This spring is still running.

So far as known, no explanation has ever been given why men of sound judgement, such as composed Seth Gard & Co., were presumed to be, should have selected a site so obviously unfavorable as to foredoom their enterprise to failure. But the writer would hazard the guess that it was for the purpose of being able to keep in touch with the French settlements at hand near Vincennes, from which they would have been cut off during a great portion of the year had they located below the rapids.

Palmyra soon grew to be a town of five or six hundred people and it was to this place that all residents of the enormous territory included within the boundaries of Edwards County, were compelled to come to transact business that required their presence at the county seat, even from as far north as Chicago and beyond.

« AnteriorContinuar »