IN THE OLD PRAIRIE MOUND cemetery, on Six Mile Creek, southeast of New Hartford village, are the graves of numerous forefathers of the Hartford Settlement. Some of the early settlers who sleep there, most of them "to fortune and fame unknown," died as early as 1831, as revealed by inscriptions on weathered stones that mark the burials. This village of the dead is peopled largely with men and women of the Boone line, connected, either by blood or marriage, with the noted pioneer family.
Here, in this burial place of pioneers, is the grave of an old Indian fighter and soldier of the second war with Britain, a grave undesignated as that of a soldier of the Republic. This grave is that of Robert (Robin) Alcorn, a comrade of Daniel Boone in the old Indian wars, and the husband of Mary Elledge, eldest daughter of Francis Elledge and Charity Boone.
Robin Alcorn died in a cabin in the field north of the present Lawrence Wilkins home and three-quarters of a mile west and south from New Hartford, in the year 1831. He was first buried in the field near the cabin in which he died. Later, when Prairie Mound cemetery was laid out, he and one or two of his kinsmen who had been buried beside him, were removed to the newer cemetery. The stone that was set at his grave is now down, but its inscription is still clear. It affords the information that Robert Alcorn was born in 1768 and died in 1831 at the age of 63. The grave is in "Rogers Row," where lie 13 of the Rogers Alcorn line, headed by the graves of David Redmon Rogers and his wife, Fanny Alcorn.
Robert Alcorn married Mary Elledge in Kentucky at "green-up time," in 1797. Mary was the first-born of the daughters of Francis Elledge and Charity Boone. She died in Kentucky in 1824 and is buried "on the banks of Green." Robert later married Frances (last name not of record) and in 1825 came wit' Jesse Elledge and his wife, Elizabeth Philips, to what is now Scott county, Illinois, crossing thence into Pike county and settling near present New Hartford.
At that time, only one log cabin had been built between the Atlas settlement and the Joel Moore settlement on Bay Creek, north of present Pittsfield. This was the cabin occupied by the Jacob and Daniel Husong families, who had come in 1823. This cabin was a quarter mile south of the present Charles Shinn residence, south of New Hartford. The stone fireplace of this early habitation still stands, a noted landmark, where the road turns east from U. S. 54 toward Prairie Mound cemetery and school house. Immediately north of this old cabin site, on land now occupied by Charles Shinn, was the early home of Squire David Redmon Rogers and his wife, Fanny Alcorn, she the daughter of Robert Alcorn and Mary Elledge.
Robert Alcorn and Mary Elledge were the parents of seven children, three sons and four daughters, namely, Cynthia, Charity, Frances (Fanny), Rachel, William, Benjamin and Jesse Alcorn. Cynthia, the eldest daughter, married Robert (Robin) Rogers in Kentucky February 26, 1824. On the same day, in a double wedding, Cynthia's younger sister, Frances (Fanny), married Robin Rogers' brother, David Redmon Rogers. Both couples later came to Illinois, Robin and Cynthia moving subsequently to the state of Iowa, where both of them died.
Of Charity and Rachel Alcorn there is no record, save for the fact that they were children of Robin Alcorn and his wife Mary. Descendants believe that Charity and Rachel died young and that they were buried in Kentucky, probably beside their mother. Charity was named for her grandmother, Charity Boone. Among the records kept by William Riley Willsey, 83-year-old descendant of the Boones and Alcorns, is a notation in his own handwriting that "Charity Alcorn was a sister of Uncle Benjamin Alcorn." Mr. Willsey is now unable to recall either Charity or Rachel or what became of them.
Fanny Alcorn, third child of Robert and Mary, was born in Kentucky August 25, 1803. Following her marriage to David R. Rogers in 1824, she and her husband made their home on the Kentucky river, near the Goose Creek Salt Works, in Clay county, and here three children were born to them, namely, Mary Ann (known also as Polly Ann), born January 4, 1825; Bartlett, November 3, 1826; and Nancy Jane, February 15, 1828. Soon after the birth of Nancy Jane, David and his wife and the three children, accompanied by his brother Robert and Robert's wife, started for Illinois, reaching the early settlement of Williamsport on the Illinois river, opposite Montezuma, late in 1828. Bartlett Rogers, Sr., father of the two Rogers brothers, had emigrated to this region and had settled in Williamsport in 1826. He died there in 1831 and is buried in the Illinois bluffs.
While they were residents at Williamsport, a fourth child was born to David R: Rogers and Fanny Alcorn, the girl Malinda, who in 1851 married James Gallett Willsey and became the mother of William Riley Willsey. Malinda was born August 14, 1830. Shortly afterward David Rogers moved his family across the Illinois river into Pike county, and settled on Dutch Church Creek near Big Spring below Stony Point, on a place later owned by James Wassell. (Note: Dutch Church Creek was so named by the early settlers from a rock bluff near its bank supposed to resemble an old Dutch church in the city of Albany, New York. The creek is now known merely as Dutch Creek.)
Later, the Rogers family removed to what is known as the John Hoskins place, southwest of New Hartford, and there David Rogers built a small cabin. In that log home, a fifth child, William Riley Rogers, was born January 1, 1833, a few months before Pittsfield, the present county seat of Pike county, was laid out, and three years before the founding of new Hartford.
The New Hartford region at this time was wild and but sparsely settled. Wild animals were numerous, and snake dens, from which in the spring issued countless reptiles, abounded. North of the Rogers cabin, in a little valley, was a swamp or quagmire that still exists. The Rogers children stood guard at this swamp to keep the cattle out of the bog. Wolves prowled in great numbers. The luckless cow that strayed into the swamp and became mired was soon devoured. Bears, panthers and lynxes also had abode in this wilderness region.
In an old account book of William Riley Willsey's is this reference to the early Rogers settlements at Stony Point and at the Hoskins place, written therein by Mr. Willsey:
"Wolves and bear and panthers were plenty at that time and the howling of wolves was of nightly occurrence and the scream of the panther was frequently heard. Not far from Stony Point, ‘snake dens were plenty and the early settlers in the spring of the year would set a day and go to the dens and kill snakes."
In 1834 or 1835 David R. Rogers moved a short distance east, to the old W. D. Shinn place, now the home of Charles Shinn, a beautiful country estate located on U. S. 54 between New Hartford and Summer Hill. Here Squire Rogers, who was justice of the peace for 30 years, spent his remaining days, passing away March 21, 1871. His wife, a daughter of Mary Elledge and a granddaughter of Charity Boone, died there March 10, 1873. Both are buried in Prairie Mound, on the banks of Six Miles.
Three sons of Robin Alcorn and Mary Elledge had much to do with the early development of Pike county's Mississippi valley. They were William Riley, Benjamin Franklin and Jesse Elledge Alcorn. These three great grandsons of Daniel Boone's brother, Neddie, co-operated in the building of the first warehouse west of Rockport at Gilgal on the Mississippi river, this being one of the earliest warehouse on this part of the old Military Tract. This warehouse was long under the direct supervision of Benjamin Alcorn.
William (Willy) Alcorn was born in Kentucky February 2, 1811. He was the Daniel Boone of early Pike county. He, like his great kinsman, was a mighty hunter. Many a great turkey and many a noble stag fell before his rifle. Once, when the three brothers were warehousing at Gilgal, Willy took his gun and plunged into the bottom wilderness, bringing down on this adventure what was probably the biggest wild turkey ever killed in the county. William Riley Willsey thus recounts the story as William Riley Alcorn told it to him:
"One Friday evening we knocked off work. I took my rifle and thought to get a turkey or something. I went up the river about a mile, when I saw a turkey in the very top of a big oak. I shot it. It fell out. My brothers, about a mile away at the warehouse, heard me shoot. They heard the turkey fall, heard it hit the ground. Every bone in its body was broken. I brought it down (to the warehouse) and cleaned it and took a butcher knife and split it down the back, dividing it in half. We cooked half of it. This was the larger half, because we kept the gizzard, liver, etc. We had no way to weigh the turkey. On Sunday I came to Hartford and brought the other half and weighed it and it weighed 23 pounds. This was after it was dressed and we had cooked a little more than half. I am sure that turkey weighed every bit of 50 pounds."
William Alcorn, on February 3, 1832, at the home of Nimrod Philips at Philips Ferry on the Illinois river, with Andrew Philips, J. P., officiating, married his cousin, Miss Eliza Norris, a daughter of Nancy Elledge Norris, who, as her second husband married Nimrod Philips; Nancy being a sister of Willy Alcorn's mother.
William and Eliza Alcorn lived for a time in a little log cabin near where Prairie Mound cemetery is now located. In this one-room log house, William cut a small opening and inserted a sash with four small window panes, so that he could tell when daylight came. He had a dog named "Butch," as famous a deer hunter as was his master. Whenever his master shot at a deer and failed to bring it down or merely wounded the animal, big Butch would at once be off in full chase of the quarry. Butch seldom failed to get his deer.
One morning just at daybreak, according to a story remembered by Mr. Willsey, Willy Alcorn, looking out of the solitary little window of his cabin, saw a deer coming up the side of the knoll. Shutting Butch in the house, he stole outside and got a shot at the deer at long range, merely crippling the animal. The shot was still echoing among the hill of Six Mile, when Butch, with the window sash around his neck, bounded by in pursuit of the fleeing deer. The smashed window, dearly prized by the Alcorn, was replaced with difficulty, window glass being scarce in those days.
William Alcorn, like Daniel Boone, continued to hunt in his old age. Boone pitched his hunting camp in what is now Detroit township when he was past 80; Alcorn at 88 climbed rail fences and surmounted the obstacles of the trail with the agility of a middle-aged man. At 88 he challenged William Riley Willsey to a shooting contest. At 93 he left for California to hunt bear. Mr. Willsey recalls that one of William's nephews went with him on this trip. William, in his latter years, lived at or near Winterset, in Madison county, Iowa, and died there at a very advanced age, a hunter and trapper to the last. He had a daughter, Rachel Alcorn, named for his sister, Rachel. W. R. Willsey remembers that Rachel once came from Iowa and spent the winter here with her uncle, old Benny Alcorn..
Billy Alcorn and his nephew, Benjamin Rogers (son of David R. and Fanny Alcorn Rogers), operated a pioneer store at New Hartford in the days of the gold rush, 1848-49. This store of Alcorn and Rogers stood where Will Varney's service station is now located.
Benjamin Alcorn, sixth child and second son of Robin and Mary Elledge Alcorn, was born in Kentucky October 14, 1814. He came with his sister, Fanny Rogers, and her family to this western country late in 1828. His mother, Mary Elledge, having died in Kentucky in 1824, he then, at the age of 10, went to live with his sister after marriage to David R. Rogers.
Here, in Pike county, on May 9, 1839, Benjamin Alcorn married Christena Goodwin, daughter of pioneer settlers. The Rev. William Foreman said the ceremony. To them were born four sons and one daughter: James C., Archibald, Robert, Sylvester and Frances (Fanny). Fanny was the second child.
James C. Alcorn, first-born of the children, went to the defense of the Union in the Civil War and died in the service of his country. He is buried in the old Uriah Elledge cemetery, on what is now the Lee Newman place, east of Griggsville. This early family burial plot, far from any road, is now overgrown with briars and underbrush.
Archibald Alcorn married Minnie Thompson, a native of Pennsylvania. They lived in Oklahoma, near Vinita, and later in Arkansas. Archibald died in Arkansas and is buried near Van Buren in that state.
Robert R. Alcorn married Lucy A. Miles in Pike county, April 30, 1871. They were married by Lucien W. Shaw, a justice of the peace. A double gravestone in Prairie Mound marks the burial of two infants born to Robert and Lucy. Frederick E. Alcorn died August 2, 1875, aged one year, two months and 28 days; Effie Etta died September 13, 1876, aged eight months and 19 days. Robert R. Alcorn was a plasterer by trade. The family resided at Pleasant Hill in the latter 1870s, and there on February 26, 1878 another child was born to them. Robert later went to California and died in that state. He is buried at Oakland.
Sylvester Alcorn, on November 26, 1871, married, in Pike county, Annie Williams, with Salem H. Chappell, J. P., officiating. Sylvester later married as his second wife Mary Penney. They emigrated to Kansas and there Sylvester died. He is buried at DeSoto, Kansas, about 35 miles from Kansas City.
Fanny Alcorn, only daughter of Benjamin Alcorn and Christena Goodwin, was married in the Alcorn home at Summer Hill, January 5, 1865, to William J. Henley, with her uncle (by marriage), David R. Rogers thw officiating justice. David Rogers, at the Alcorn home on this day, married three couples in a triple wedding. The other couples were Josiah G. Williams and Mary Shinn, and George Henry Shinn and Ellen Graham, the latter an aunt of Lucretia (Graham) Carlton, wife of Guy Carlton of Pittsfield. Mary Shinn, one of the brides, and George Shinn, one of the grooms, were children of Daniel D. Shinn's widow, at this time the wife of Benjamin Alcorn, whose first wife had died. Fanny Alcorn Henley, one of the brides in this triple wedding of Civil War time, died in New Mexico and is buried there, near Nogales.
Benjamin Alcorn, some time after the death of his first wife, Christena Goodwin, married as his second wife Eliza (Graham) Shinn, widow of Daniel D. Shinn. Daniel D. Shinn and Eliza Graham had been married in Pike county by Justice David R. Rogers, July 6, 1837. Eliza Graham had come to Pike county with her mother from her native Ohio, in which state her father had died. She and Charles English, father of the Pittsfield merchant, Harry English, were first cousins, her mother, Elizabeth English, being an own sister of Robert English, father of Charles.
Children of Daniel D. Shinn and Eliza Graham include: George Henry Shinn, who married Ellen Graham and whose children are Hattie (Mrs. Isaac J. Duffield) of the Summer Hill neighborhood, Otto of Newton, Illinois, and Edward of Farmington, Missouri; Elizabeth Shinn, who married George W. Turnbaugh and whose children are Frank Turnbaugh of Pittsfield, James Turnbaugh of California, Roy Turnbaugh of Portland, Oregon, Mary (Mrs. John Kramer) of Frankford, Missouri, and Mrs. Sadie Pettit of Council Bluffs, Iowa; Abigail Shinn, who married Charles McClain and whose children are Daniel McClain, resident of a veterans' hospital, Ida (Mrs. Edward Speaker) of Decatur, Illinois, and Dora (Mrs. Tone England) of Oakland, California; Mary Shinn, who married Josiah G. Williams and whose children included Daniel Williams of Summer Hill (the only one now living), Helen (Mrs. Warren Deam) of Summer Hill, Effie (Mrs. William Owsley) of Summer Hill, and John Williams who died in Louisiana, Missouri; and Sarah D. Shinn, who married H. Robert Wood and whose children are George L. Wood, who lives with his aunt, Mrs. Josephine Alcorn Baker at Summer Hill; Ed Wood, with the King Milling Company in Pittsfield, and Dr. Harry Wood, who died at Batchtown, Calhoun county, July 4, 1934.
Josephine Alcorn Baker of Summer Hill is a half-sister of the above named children of David D. Shinn and Eliza Graham, they having had the same mother. Daniel D. Shinn was a son of pioneer Daniel Shinn and Mary Hackett, and the brother of Phoebe Shinn who married Thomas J. Rogers, a brother of David Redmon Rogers, Phoebe Shinn being the mother of Hannah Rogers who married Benjamin Elledge's son, Harvey V. Elledge.
Daniel D. Shinn died aboardship when returning from the California gold fields, and was buried at sea. On March 17, 1858, Benjamin Alcorn, then a widower, married Daniel D.'s widow, with Justice Thomas Billings officiating. They became the parents of one child, a daughter, Josephine Alcorn, born in January, 1861. Eliza Graham Shinn Alcorn died at Summer Hill on March 7, 1892.
Benjamin Alcorn died at New Canton January 25, 1900, aged 85; he is buried in the old Shinn cemetery where stands a clump of cedar trees in the midst of a farming area, a plot reserved out of the old William Walker (now Emmett Walker) land, a short distance northwest of Summer Hill. This early burial ground has now reverted to a semi-wild state, overgrown with thickets of sumac, other native vegetation and carpeted in places with the vivid green of the live-forever plant.
In this old cemetery stands the stones marking the graves of Daniel Shinn, the pioneer, and his wife, Mary Hackett. These stones record that Daniel died February 28, 1852, aged 70 years and three months; his wife, October 19, 1849, aged 63 years and seven months. Here also is the grave of the younger Daniel D. Shinn, brother of Merrick and W. D., born February 5, 1857, died January 31, 1879; also the graves of George W. Turnbaugh and his wife, Elizabeth Shinn, she the daughter of Benjamin Alcorn's second wife, Eliza Graham Shinn.
George Turnbaugh was otherwise related to the characters of our story, being the son of the Rev. Joseph Turnbaugh and Locha Rogers, she a sister of Robert, David Redmon and Thomas Jefferson Rogers, two of whom (Robert and David) married granddaughters of Charity Boone while the other (Thomas J.) Married Phoebe Shinn and became the father of Hannah Rogers, who married Harvey Elledge. Joseph Turnbaugh and Locha Rogers were born in Kentucky. Locha (written also Locke, Lockey and Luckey) was born October 7, 1814, and married Joseph Turnbaugh in Pike county December 25, 1831. Their son, George W., was born in Pike county December 6, 1832; his wife, Elizabeth Shinn, whom he married April 10, 1856, was born February 14, 1840. George W., a soldier on the Union side in the Civil War, died at Summer Hill October 28, 1911. His name is inscribed on the monument to the members of Major Sam Hays Post 477, G. A. R. Department of Illinois, standing in the Summer Hill park.
Elizabeth Turnbaugh's sister, Abigail McClain, and her brother, George H. Shinn, are also buried in this cemetery. Her sister, Sarah Wood, is buried in Martin Taylor cemetery, south of El Dara, and the other sister, Mary Williams, in Summer Hill cemetery.
Josephine Alcorn, on March 3, 1904, married Colonel Elliott Baker at Summer Hill, with the Rev. James J. Watson officiating, she becoming the Colonel's second wife. Colonel Baker was a veteran of the Civil War and was long a fighting leader of the Republican party in this section. He was the son of James Baker and Mary Betts, natives of Ohio, and a grandson of Joseph Baker, who removed from the Buckeye state to Illinois in 1832. James Baker and Mary Betts, following their marriage in Ross county, Ohio, rode across country on horseback to join his father here. James Baker resided on the Martinsburg farm that had been opened by his father, until his death which occurred about 1846. His wife survived him and did a pioneer mother's full part by her children, one of whom was the boy Elliott.
Elliott Baker continued upon the old farm (now the home of his son Logan) until he was about 20 years of age when, on March 14, 1862, he responded to Lincoln's call and joined Company B of the Third Missouri Cavalry which was attached to the Western Army. He served for three years, participating in several major and a number of smaller engagements. On one occasion he sustained a gunshot wound in his right arm but lost no time from active service and was honorably discharged at Macon City, Missouri, March 14, 1865.
In the year after the war, on September 13, 1866, Colonel Baker married Miss Susan C. Goodin, with whom he lived upon the Martinsburg farm until March 15, 1900 when Mrs. Baker died, her remains being interred in Prairie Mound cemetery. Four children had been born to them: Sherman, born in 1867, who married Nettie Brown and resides at Williams, California; Mary F., born August 6, 1869, who married David Rupert and resides on U. S. 54 at Summer Hill; Lilly E., born in 1871, who married Ernest Ellis (now deceased) and resides at Phoenix, Arizona; and Logan, who married Pearl Rainwater and resides on the old Baker homestead in Section 16, Martinsburg township.
Colonel Elliott Baker died July 15, 1918 and is buried in Prairie Mound. He was 76, having been born in Pike county January 2, 1842. His widow, Josephine Alcorn Baker, granddaughter of Robin Alcorn and Mary Elledge and great granddaughter of Charity Boone, has always known that she was of Boone descent. From her earliest girlhood she has been familiar with the name of Charity Boone. She recalls that some of the descendants thought that Charity was the daughter of old Dan'l Boone, but she remembers distinctly that her father, Benjamin Alcorn, always talked of Neddie Boone, who was Dan'l's brother. The present story of Edward (Neddie) Boone's Pike county descendants has brought back to her memory her father's talk of Neddie when she was a child.