Centennial History of Mason County
By Joseph Cochrane
Springfield, Ill., 1876


Page 140-141

In gathering material for the present work, we heard of Charles P. Richardson, the old pioneer of Grand Island in 1836, who assisted Mr. Lincoln in the original surveys of this county, etc. We fixed in our minds that we would meet an old, decrepid man, walking on two canes, or on crutches, with an asthmatic cough, etc., etc. But imagine our surprise. We found him, of course, on in years, but vigorous, hale and hearty, a model of health and activity, engaged in an occupation requiring the exercise of muscle, of which he has an abundance. A hand-shake with him wakes you up if disposed to be dull; a mine of information, a splendid memory, a pleasant gentleman.

Mr. Richardson was born in Kentucky, in 1814; moved to Illinois in 1819, and settled on Grand Island, in the Illinois river, opposite Bath, in 1836, and has resided in Bath for the past nine years. He assisted the late President Lincoln in the original surveys of this country and the town of Bath. Mr. R. is a natural mechanic; has been engaged in the various occupations of blacksmithing, shoe-making, boat-building and cabinetmaking. Mr. Lincoln and surveying party boarded with Mr. Richardson was so pleased with the society of his guests that he refused all compensation for board. Mr. Lincoln persisted, however, in some compensation being made, or some service rendered, in return and surveyed Mr. Richardson’s lands for him in that vicinity. During the stay of Mr. Lincoln and party at the home of Mr. Richardson, a party from Schuyler County came there on a deer hunting expedition, and also were the guests of Mr. Richardson. Three beds were filled, and the rest bivouaced on the floor of the one small room the house contained.

Billy Brown, one of the Schuyler County party, had a frightful dream. He dreamed the world was on fire, and event Mr. Brown did not feel prepared for, and consequently was much alarmed. Rising hastily from his bed on the cabin floor, he looked through the openings between the logs of the cabin walls, and beheld the fires in the open furnaces of an Illinois river steamer, which was headed for the shore, near where the cabin stood, wakening the echoes of the island shore with her shrills whistle, to rouse the men of the wood yard from their deep slumbers. Poor Billy Brown, from his frightful dream, half awake, beheld the fires, the puffing steamer, and the shrieking whistle, so mistook his surrounding as to believer that Gabriel had blown his last trump, that “the elements were melting with fervid heat” and the heavens were about to be “rolled together as a scroll”. Billy engaged in very fervent devotions then and there, on his humble cot, much to the amusement of Mr. Richardson and Mr. Lincoln, and the rest of the company. The poor fellow was finally brought to his senses, and made to comprehend the true cause of his alarm. For the balance of their stay Bill’s devotional exercises were not allowed to be long out of mind.


Contributed by: Mandy Reiley


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