Pioneers of Menard & Mason Counties|
Including Personal Reminiscens of
Abraham Lincoln & Peter Cartwright
By T.G. Onstot, 1902
The Old School House on the Hill
From 1840 to 1846 the school at Petersburg was taught in a frame house south of Dr. Allen's brick house on the hill west of the court house square. Charles B. Waldo was the teacher. He was a brother-in-law to John Bennett. I suppose he was above the average teacher or he would not have taught for six successive years. He had Latin scholars younger than I was, but I never studied Latin. I thought if I mastered the English language I would be content. Mr. Waldo was not so strict as was my cousin Mentor Graham.
I will try and call to memory some of those who attended school. There was the Brooks family. Albert, Lucy, John and others. Albert and Lucy have handed in their checks. John also is dead. There was the Laning family, Ed and Sarah (wife of Dr. Short of Jacksonville), John, "B." and Fred. There was Thomps McNeely, who was a modest boy but we expect his contact with the world had had a hardening influence on his nerves.
There was Tom, Dick and Harry Bennett - all gone. Tom, after years of toil and discouragement in Salt creek bottom, died just before his land was sold to the Hergets of Pekin at a good price. Harry died while keeping a drug store in Easton. Not a member of John Bennett's family is alive today as far as I know.
There was Bill Cowgill and a sister, who removed from Petersburg a long time ago. The Trent family - Hugh, "Wimps," Nancy and Belle and John. Hugh and Williamson and Nancy and John have gone the way of all the earth, while Belle is living in Havana, the wife of William Webb.
There was the Elam family, now scattered to the four corners of the earth, except Frances, who lives in Forest City.
There was James Miles, Still hale and hearty, who lives just north of town, and his sister Elizabeth, who married Chatterton, of Springfield, and Ann Miles, who became the wife of Lincoln's partner and who, I am informed, is dead. Fifty years makes a vast difference in a community.
There was the Wright family. Lucy, the widow of Tom Bennett, is running the Hotel Smoot. Buck and Jack and Ed, are well known, having been born and raised in Petersburg. There was the Brahms, who lived north of Petersburg, but who came to town to school. The oldest was Thomas, who died years ago; Nancy died a few months ago. John is in poor health and has moved to Chicago.
Transcribed by:Brenda Hamilton Johnson