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            Yesterday, men employed in opening First Street through from Monroe to Adams Street, removed a noble old elm tree standing in the intersection of First and Monroe.  This was one of the old landmarks, and, from its appearance, may have sheltered the red savages of this region before the possibilities of the present great commonwealth had ever been dreamed of, and when the site of this city was a part of the common, wild waste of prairie.  It seemed like sacrilege to disturb so handsome an old monarch, and a person of an ingenious, not to say sentimental, turn of mind could readily have devised a way of preserving it without detriment to the utility or convenience of the streets, and greatly to the picturesqueness of the neighborhood.  But perhaps it is unreasonable to expect a municipal corporation to have any ideas that verge on conceptions of the beautiful.  At least, up to this year of grace, they have not been known to give frequent exhibitions of such weakness.  But why should they be expected to?  They are usually made up on the opposite principle, a fact which goes a great way in explaining the homeliness of that part of most cities for which the corporation is personally responsible.  What beauty these cities have, is general such part of nature’s work as has been suffered to remain and such additional touches as tasteful citizens have added to their own possessions.  The least can be said, however, about the removal of the old elm in question, is that it was an act of vandalism for which no good apology can be offered.
Illinois State Journal - May 1, 1883

Immense Hit of Their Wild West Show
Yesterday’s Performance Attended by a Great Crowd
Picturesque Scenes of the Plains – Fights, Races, Etc.

            Cody and Carver’s novel show, which is advertised under the somewhat taking title of the “Wild West,” was given at the fair grounds yesterday, in the presence of a crowd which must have numbered not less than 8,000 souls, and it may have reached 10,000.  The great amphitheater was densely packed with men, women and children.  Many carriages and buggies, with occupants, were on the grounds, and the pagoda and surrounding ground were also thronged.  The day was a splendid one, neither too warm nor too cool, and to say that the people were pleased with the exhibition, in general and in detail, would be putting it too mildly.  They were wild with delight, and as the various features were presented, the air was rent with shouts and loud huzzas.  The opening parade was the first feature, and it was picturesque and well gotten up.  A band of twenty pieces marched at the head, and then came “Little Sitting Bull,” riding a pony, and gorgeous in his war bonnet and paint; then three Pawnees on ponies; then several grown buffalos and the baby buffalo, a frisky young thing; then a group of Omaha Indian squaws with papooses riding on ponies and led by their respective bucks; another group of squaws trailing an Indian wagon of hickory poles, the aboriginal baby carriage; next, about forty Sioux and Pawnee braves mounted and in war paint; after them Hon. W. F. Cody (“Buffalo Bill”) and Dr. Carver, who were cheered enthusiastically; then a party of cowboys; after them two strings of elk, who pranced about wildly; then a pair of burros with packs; then the Monroe and Salisbury stage coach, which was attacked by road agents on the Black Hills run, some years ago, drawn by six fine mules.

            The performance was announced by “Pop” Whitaker, the noted caller for athletic games, who is familiar to all patrons of sports in New York, and who stood godfather to the new show.

            The first was a half-mile dash for Indian ponies, in which there were several starters.  They rode like the wind and created much enthusiasm.

            Next was exhibited the pony express rider’s method of carrying dispatches in which the riding and changing of saddle covers was done with startling rapidity.

            Great interest was taken in the representation of the attack on the stage coach, and it was a thrilling scene, never equaled by an act in a hippodrome or a theater.  The coach started out with its passengers, including Tom Wilson, the only man who survived the attack which the scene was gotten up to represent, and who killed the first Indian in that fight.  He was seated on the top and the coach, it should be remembered, was the veritable one that was attacked.  The stage agent warned the driver against his dangers, and the six mules sent the vehicle rolling down the track.  As the coach reached the last quarter a band of fifty Indians emerged from a hiding place and set out in pursuit, yelling like demons.  The driver whipped up his mules, but the Indians closed around the coach and the interchange of revolver shots made the scene exciting.  Just as it seemed that the coach was captured “Buffalo Bill” and Dr. Carver, leading a party of scouts, came to its rescue, driving the Indians back, shooting and scalping them, and routing the discomfited savages from the road.  The audience went wild with excitement, stood upon their seats and cheered.

            Next came a race between an Indian runner and a mounted Indian for fifty yards and repeat, which was applauded.

            Feats of shooting were the next acts.  Capt. Bogardus opened with a marvelous exhibition in breaking glass balls and pigeons after the English and American rules.  “Buffalo Bill” and Dr. Carver followed in feats with the shotgun and the rifle, concluding with shots while riding at full speed.  These exhibitions are beyond all rivalry, for the three best shots in the United States and the champion shot of the world were engaged in them.

            “The Cowboy’s Frolic,” with bucking broncos, came next, and then two fine Texas steers were turned loose and allowed to run wild within a circle of cowboys, after which they were deftly lassoed and thrown, and one daring cowboy rode a steer for a few yards until the animal tossed him off.

            The final act was the “Buffalo chase,” in which the buffalo were liberated from the corral and set galloping over the ground, with Cody, Carver and the cowboys in hot pursuit.

            A dash of the Indians around the ground excited much enthusiasm, and concluded the performance.

            There was no mistaking that the show was a success.  The swiftest and most daring Indians, the most expert lassoers and riders among the cowboys, and above all Cody, Carver, Bogardus and the best talent in every line to be had, deserved and won the favor of the people.
Illinois State Register - June 1, 1883

            The police are requested to be present at the corner of Seventh Street and Capitol Avenue any evening after 7 o’clock.  They will be able to disturb public meetings interesting to the parties concerned, but disgusting to persons who pass by.  The lewd women who seem to make this a trysting spot should be looked after.

The question that is puzzling some of our citizens just now is, why is the cow ordinance not enforced?  We have not, as yet, found anyone that could answer it.  But we do know that the bovines have almost undisputed range.  It is exasperating to make improvements and try to beautify one’s grounds for the cows to destroy.
Illinois State Journal - October 22, 1883



Possibility That She Has Been Killed and Her Body Devoured By Dogs

            Night before last a woman hired a horse and buggy at McWhirter’s livery stable, and at a very late hour of the night the horse came home alone, minus the buggy.  Yesterday the buggy was found in a sadly demoralized condition on Third street, near Capitol avenue, and near by were discovered a cushion, a lap robe, a whip and a woman’s hat.  The woman was unknown to the person who let her have the buggy, and nothing has since been heard of her.  Late yesterday afternoon something was picked up on the street that was supposed to be one of her feet, but it proved to be a spoiled ham which some butcher or grocer had slung away.  One theory is that she was dashed to death from the railroad bridge and that her body was devoured by dogs.  This, however, is mere conjecture, and it is hoped that she has not met with any such horrible fate.  The only thing certain in regard to this matter is that the wreck occurred, as stated, and that the female has not turned up.
Illinois State Register - November 10, 1883

The First Wedding Celebrated in Sangamon County

            As the people of our city are discussing and preparing for the entertainment of the survivors of the constitutional convention of 1847, and the annual call of the “snowbird” upon the survivors of the “deep snow” is approaching, the present would seem to be a fitting time to revive old recollections and recall the pleasing reminiscences of the now traditional history of our country.  Christmas week seems to be a favorite time for the celebration of marriages among our people, and a description of the first wedding in Sangamon county would be of interest to our many readers, showing what a “stylish” wedding was, as it existed among the snow-birds.

            On the second day of November, sixty-three years ago, the first marriage in what is now Sangamon county, was solemnized in the beautiful grove about two miles southwest of Williamsville, and now owned by John M. Poorman, an old settler of this county.  The grove was called by its first owner, Mrs. Stillman, Fancy Grove.

            The parties to the wedding were Mr. Philo Beers and Miss Martha Stillman, of New York.  Mrs. Stillman, the mother of Miss Stillman, came to Illinois the year before Mr. Beers.  Mr. Beers met his wife first in Morganfield, Ky., and afterwards in this county, where Mr. Stillman with a large family of sons and daughters had settled.

            The Stillman family came from New York, but soon became prominently identified with the interests of the state and county which they helped to settle.

            When the marriage of Mr. Beers and Miss Stillman occurred sixty-three years ago, the country of Central Illinois was a wilderness, there were a few cabins scattered about the prairies near streams of water and the forests.  There was nothing where Springfield now stands but two or three log huts.  There was but one house between here and Peoria (then Fort Clark).  The woods were filled with wolves and panthers and the prairie was crowded with herds of deer.  This wedding was considered an event in the settlement, as it was understood that considerable “style” was to be attached to the celebration.  The ceremony was performed in the log cabin of the Stillmans, which was considered as “elegantly” furnished, from the fact that it contained a piano, which had been brought all the way from New York by Miss Stillman’s brothers, by ox-teams used to transport it and other household goods when the family moved west.  When moved from the east, the legs of the piano were taken off and only the body shipped, and legs were hewn out of forest timber obtained in the creek woods.  The piano was the pride of the neighborhood, and was also a marvel and wonder to the Indians for miles around.  The ceremony was performed by Elder Stephen England, who, on being called to attend the wedding, borrowed a pair of shoes of his neighbor and kinsman, Evans Brittin, Sr, to wear to the wedding, as his own moccasins were in too bad a condition to wear upon such an occasion.

            As illustrating the sterling integrity of the old settlers, and the scarcity of ready money among them, it is related that Mr. Beers tendered Elder England ten dollars in gold for his services, which the good man stoutly refused to take, insisting that it was outrageous to receive such a large sum of money for such a service.

            There were present at the wedding the family of the bride and neighbors, Henry Stillman, the business partner of Col. Peter Menard (afterward Gen. Stillman, of the Blackhawk War and hero of Stillman’s famous retreat in that conflict), Stephen Stillman, the first master of the first Masonic lodge in Sangamon county, and postmaster at Springfield – both brothers of the bride, and Caroline Stillman, sister of the bride, who afterwards married Col. Peter Menard, son of Gov. Pierre Menard, were present.

            The bride – who appeared as sweet and lovely as any bride – was attired in a white jaconet dress, a very narrow, gored skirt, short sleeves, low neck and a very short waist (which was then the fashion).

            There were no mills in the country to grind wheat into flour, and everybody used corn bread.  It happened, however, that James Stewart – who also married a Stillman, and resided on a farm next to the Stillmans up to the time of his death, at a ripe old age, a few years ago – received two barrels of flour from New York, from one of his friends, and kindly divided it among neighbors and friends.  A part of this precious lot of flour, which was very scarce, formed the wedding cake for the feast.  A large corn cake, iced with some loaf sugar which Mrs. Stillman had brought with her from the east, was also placed in the middle of the table, for ornament, and it was understood that it was not to be cut, the smaller cake made of the flour supplying the company.  Of course all varieties of meat, venison, wild turkeys and wild fruit appeared on the table in abundance.

            Mr. Beers took his bride to Carlyle, which was an older part of the state and located.  Here he was elected justice of the peace and then a member of the legislature, at Vandalia, in 1824.  As a principal index of the times the following is told.  Mr. Beers was elected to secure from the legislature the locating of the county seat of his county at Carlyle.  His predecessor failed to accomplish it, and was hung in effigy by his indignant constituents.  Mr. Beers, by hard work, in which he rode all of one night from the capital to his home to get some papers necessary in the case, obtained the coveted prize and was given a public dinner on his return home.  In 1826 he returned to Sangamon county in Fancy Grove and from there to Springfield, where he erected the first brick dwelling house in the city, on the corner of Fifth and Madison streets, where Ide’s foundry now stands.  There were no brickyards, and Mr. Beers boarded his moulders and burners until the brick were made and burned.

            The offspring of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Beers was a son, Henry Beers, and a daughter, Caroline, who is now Mrs. Eld. A. J. Kane, a snow bird residing on Second street, the mother of the Kane family in this city.  A curious fact in connection with the case is that the grandson of this union, Chas. P. Kane, about two years ago married the granddaughter of the gentleman (Mr. Brittin) of whom Rev. England borrowed the shoes in which to perform the ceremony.

            We can scarcely realize the change in sixty-three years.  Towns and villages have sprung up like magic, and unbroken forests, and vast prairies are converted into farms.  The deer, howling wolves and animals of prey have followed the red man to his doom.  We now, in a metropolitan city, celebrate our weddings with all the pomp and glory of modern innovations, yet who would think it, sixty-three years ago there were but cabins in Sangamon county.
Illinois State Register - December 23, 1883