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

Old Time Stories

Page 203

Among the pioneer settlers of Menard county who have answered death's call within the past year were Dulcena Goodpasture and Parthena Hill. I remember Mrs. Goodpasture from the time of her marriage - a tall, beautiful young woman of majestic carriage. She came from a noble family and was a sister of Jacob and John Williams. As a boy, I had great reverence for her; she was so kind and affable and made one feel at ease when in her presence. I had not seen her for nearly fifty years until about a year ago I met her at McGrady Rutledge's in Petersburg. She had changed greatly, of course, but there was the same kindly greeting as in the olden times. I saw her again at Old Salem Chautauqua and the signs of declining health were plainly visible. The end came in a few months and this uncrowned queen of the earth was re-united with her husband. When the roll is called up yonder, no purer, brighter spirit will answer than Dulcena Goodpasture.

It was in 1837 that I first saw Parthena Hill. He had just been married to Samuel Hill, the Salem merchant. Her maiden name was Nance, and she was a sister of Hon. Thomas Nance. She stood high in the circle in which she moved. She joined the Presbyterian church and was a devoted Christian as long as she lived. Mr. Hill died and many years of her live were spent in the loneliness of widowhood. I made it a point to call on her when I visited Petersburg, and was always warmly welcomed. She loved to talk over old times and more than once spoke about my plat of Salem and the article about the village which I furnished the Democrat in 1892. She had preserved them in a scrap book.

These two noble women outlived their generation. Like ripened shocks of grain they have been gathered into the heavenly garner and the world is better because they lived.

When a boy I helped Abraham Goodpasture farm the bottom land along where the C. P. & St. L. railroad crosses the river south of Petersburg. The land was new and very fertile and the corn grew so high that I had to bend the stalks down to gather the ears. The bottom land between Petersburg and Salem, though it has been farmed a long time, appears to still produce abundant crops. I saw corn on the old Able farm two years ago that would make sixty bushels to the acre.

Goodpasture and I ran a thrashing machine one year. Not a steam thrasher. Oh, no. It was a horse power of the primitive kind. We scraped off a round spot of ground about twenty feet in diameter and when we had ten acres of wheat the thrash we would haul a couple of loads and lay it down on this ground and I would ride the horses around on it until we would get dizzy; then I would turn them and go the other way as long as I and the horses could stand it. Then Brother G. would say: "While you are resting take my fork and stir up the grain." I thought it was a queer way to rest, but generally obeyed. I think we could thrash and clean about one acre a day. Goodpasture was from the hilly part of Tennessee and commenced farming in the Sangamon Bottoms. He was a fair preacher; not of the sensational kind, but of the doctrinal sort.

The history of Menard county would be incomplete without an extended notice of Hardin Bale, the eldest son of Jacob Bale. As early as 1836 he was running the carding machine in Salem. He was an expert machinist. The main building was a frame about forty feet square. A shed on the north covered the incline wheel which was forty feet in diameter and stood at an incline of twenty-five degrees. On this wheel two oxen furnished the motive power. A large sill operated by a lever in the side of the mill held the wheel still, and it was set in motion by letting the brake loose. The cogs in this machine were all made of wood. With this rude machinery all the carding machines were run. First was the picker, which made the wool ready for the first machine. After going through this it was left in bats ready for the finisher, and came out in rolls. It was then done up in bundles and tied up. Hardin took toll out of the wool after it had been run through the picker. In 1841 he moved his machine to Petersburg and established it on Main street, for blocks south of the present court house. Great improvements were made. The buildings were larger, the wheel was nearly fifty feet in diameter, iron cogs were substituted for the wooden ones and horses and mules were used instead of oxen.

In the course of a few years steam took the place of horse power and machinery for fulling cloth was added; then a spinning jenny with one hundred and sixty-eight spindles; then weaving machines. Samuel Hill, who always took a great interest in machinery and Hardin Bale, became partners and a pair of French buhrs were added. The mill now assumed large proportions and was successfully run till fire destroyed it in 1865. The ground has since laid vacant.

Hardin Bale came out of the fire considerably worsted, but he was not inclined to give up. He secured a large building across the branch by the coal bank and there carried on the business for a number of years. Among the men who worked for him many years where Hurd, the fuller, and Caleb Carman, the carder. These men and their employer have gone to the country from whence no traveler has yet returned.

Hardin Bale married Esther Summers in his early manhood and raised quite a family. His father-in-law, Len Summers, was an old settler who lived west of Salem and was noted for murdering he English language.

Hardin Bale's history is like that of hundreds of others. For a few years he prospered in every venture, but the tide turned and misfortune overtook him. He always had a brave heart, however, and never gave up.

Transcribed by:Brenda Hamilton Johnson



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