Pioneers of Menard & Mason Counties|
Including Personal Reminiscens of
Abraham Lincoln & Peter Cartwright
By T.G. Onstot, 1902
We make no apology in appearing before the public as a literary crank. When we first began to publish these letters in the papers a few years ago we little thought to have them in book form. Like Harriett Beecher Stowe, when writing letters that finally crystallized into "Uncle Tom's Cabin," we wrote as the spirit moved. Our Menard county friends insisted that these old-time reminiscences be put in shape by one who had lived through the formation period - should connect the past. One who had lived under the old dispensation should hand down to those who live under the new dispensation the pioneer life of their ancestors; and they insist more strongly because the old pioneers are passing away and a few more fleeting years and they will all be gone. We were born in Sugar Grove, in 1829, and being blessed with a retentive memory know as much of the early settlers of Menard and Mason as any man now living. In our early boyhood the Indian yell was still heard along the bluffs of Salt Creek.
We have lived to see this country grow to be intelligent, educated and refined. All of the useful inventions of today have been perfected in our time. The present generation knows but little of what its fathers had to contend with. We acknowledge obligations to Harvey L. Ross of Oakland, California, for many events in the Salem life of Abraham Lincoln. He carried the mail on horseback from Lewistown to Springfield when Salem was the only town between Havana and Springfield, and was probably better acquainted with him than any man living.
We are also indebted to General Ruggles for dates to many of the Mason county incidents, and to R.D. Miller for dates to many Menard county occurrences. We obtained their permission to do this.
There was a Menard and Mason county write-up about twenty years ago, but it was expensive and but few bought it and not one in fifty ever read it. This book sold for $8. Later a history of Mason and Tazewell counties was gotten up and sold for $15, which put it out of the reach of common people. Our book, at a price of $2.50, condenses the facts and incidents of the pioneers and supplies the place of both for a small sum of money.
The Salem life of Abraham Lincoln is well worth the price of the book. There may be some mistakes in the book but in the main we believe it to be correct. We have been in no hurry in writing the book; it has been three years in preparation.
We have counted Abraham Lincoln as one of Menard's early pioneers, as it was here he lived during his formative period of life, and it was here that Peter Cartright would often come while he was in political life. These two celebrities ought to give Salem a name to live in future generations; so we send this volume out to all classes. The old will read what the pioneers did for the upbuilding of this country; the young will read it although some parts may seem like romance.
Transcribed by:Jeanie Lowe