Pioneers of Menard & Mason Counties
Including Personal Reminiscens of Abraham Lincoln & Peter Cartwright
By T.G. Onstot, 1902

The Cold Day in 1837

Page 136

Things ran along smoothly after the deep snow till December, 1837. This day I recollect as well as if it was yesterday. It had been a warm, drizzly day. My father had cut a tree in the back part of the yard and us kids were carrying wood to the house. There was nothing in air or sky that showed signs of an approaching storm, when, quick as a flash, an awful cold wave swept over the earth at the rate of sixty miles an hour. It came on without any warning. The mercury fell 100 degrees in less than five minutes. Hundreds of people all over the state were caught out and unless near some house were stricken down. Their clothes that were wet froze so stiff that they were unable to walk. It was the time of year when hogs were being driven to Beardstown to be slaughtered and sold. Several droves from Menard county were on the way and part of them were frozen on the prairies, and the men driving them had to take refuge in the nearest farm house. There was no telegraph in those days and the number of people that were frozen to death will never be known.

This cold day formed another cycle and things were dated before and after the cold day in 1837.

Granny Spears, who officiated at more than half of the births within a radius of a dozen miles of Clary's Grove, always rode horseback. She had been captured by the Indians in her girlhood and spent several years with them before she was rescued. She learned many of their cures for diseases. She had good success in doctoring children and had many remedies. Some of the old settlers will doubtless remember Granny Spears' salve and other medicines. She followed her calling till over 90 years of age. I recollect her as a little old woman whose chin and nose came nearly together. She was the mother of George Spears and was a very useful woman.

In the "forties" there were in Menard county two old soldiers who had fought in the Revolutionary War. One was Daddy Boger, who lived in Wolf country. He was a small man and made baskets. People would buy his baskets to help him. I don't know whether he got a pension or not. He would come to Petersburg every Saturday. He always carried a bushel basket on each arm - baskets made of good white oak splits. He would sell his baskets as soon as he got in town, then do some trading and after resting awhile would start home. The other soldier, who lived north of Petersburg, was old man Short, the father of James Short. He was a good turkey hunter. Wild turkeys were very plentiful in the Sangamon bottom. About a half mile east of his house he had a pen built of logs and covered with brush, in which there was corn, and when the turkeys would come close enough he would fire into them. One evening James Short went down after him and found him with his leg broken and sixteen turkeys dead. The old man was so excited that he forgot and his gun kicked him over and broke his leg. There were about fifty turkeys and they had come within fifty feet of him. Just as they discovered him and raised their heads he took them in the neck.

Transcribed by:Brenda Hamilton Johnson



1902 Index

Copyright 2007 Jeanie Lowe & contributors
All rights reserved
Illinois Ancestors