Pioneers of Menard & Mason Counties|
Including Personal Reminiscens of
Abraham Lincoln & Peter Cartwright
By T.G. Onstot, 1902
A Trip to Petersburg
Tobe Kirby landed us safe in Petersburg Tuesday evening, December 20, 1899. Next morning we started out to renew old acquaintances, and went to the Observer office and with Mr. Parks spent a pleasant hour discussing men and measures, after which we went to the postoffice to see Tim Beekman, with whom we became acquainted years ago. Tim used to come to Forest City to buy cattle for the Menard county farmers, and he asked many questions about the men with whom he became acquainted twenty years ago. Some had died, others were still alive, but not selling cattle. Same old Tim, though a little more fleshy - (feeding out of the public crib had been some help to him). A trip to the court house to see Theo. Bennett, a schoolmate. He has been clerk since the winter of the deep snow, and as a Democrat, never dies nor resigns. He will hold the office for years to come. The county officers have cause to feel proud of their new court house. All in modern style. Thanks to the good farmers who pay taxes. We called on Jasper Rutledge, the newly elected sheriff, another of our friends from the pioneer years. Jasper referred to our article about Jim Berry's hands that gave the woman so much trouble at the campmeeting, and endorsed what we had written about them. If I were a citizen of Menard, a good comfortable office in the court house, with it guaranteed for twenty years, would suit me first rate.
We ran across Ed. Laning and he insisted on our going to dinner with him at the Smoot Hotel. We had been too well raised to decline. Ed. was a saucy little lad when we first came to Petersburg in 1840, but managed to keep up with the rest of us boys. Ed. referred to one of our letters a few years ago, when we spoke of the fine residences around on the hills as belonging to lawyers, and that we had said that they toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Ed. said it was true.
Next we made a visit to our old home. Sacrilegious hands had so nearly obliterated the original design that we hardly knew it. The old house had been moved back and a new front had been built. Mrs. Gibbs kindly showed us the old part which still stands, but the "old home ain't what it used to be." We met many old friends.
We found the people eager for our writings. "How long," asked one, "are you going to keep them up?" We told him that we were like Mary. Her mother had been chiding her about kissing John so much. "Why, mother," said she, "it appears to do him so much good and it does not hurt me a bit." If we can make others happy and it don't discommode us any, why should we not contribute to their happiness? Life is short at the farthest, and if we can strew flowers, instead of thorns, we should do so.
We have been writing a history of Mason county the past year and expect at the close of 1900 to put it in book form, and will sandwich a few of the Menard letters in the publication. As Andy Johnson once said, "Look at Peoria," so I say look at Petersburg.
Petersburg, with all thy faults, I love thee still.
Transcribed by:Brenda Hamilton Johnson