December 16, 1914 Robinson Argus. By ex-State Treasurer, Ed S. Wilson

Dear Wash: You say you will publish anything I may say about the days in Crawford when you and I were young. I hesitate as to what to say, and what I do say must be of the Eastern side of the county because then Palestine was the county seat and Robinson did not exist. There were no railroads, telgraphs or telephones. A very few steamboats came up the Wabash in the spring, and fewer in the fall. We had a tri-weekly mail from Vincennes to Paris.

As I remember Palestine from a boy's standpoint, it was a very large town. It was the county seat of Crawford County. It was larger than Chicago and Cleveland. It was a United States Land Office, and second only to New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and New Orleans - in fact I never heard of Chicago. Cook County was in the Palestine Land Office District.

Rich Arnold was the sheriff of Crawford County. Rich had got his face wrong side out when a baby and spent the rest of his life trying to fet it straight. He was so much uglier than Isaac Jennings that by comparison Isaac was an Apollo. He was so ugly his wife practiced kissing the cow before she would marry him. But he was a good fellow, and a true man, and also collector of taxes, and traveled north as far as Danville. It was not worth while to go further north. He would take any old thing in payment for taxes, principally coon skins. He would start riding one horse and leading one. He would come back, leading three, all loaded down with pelts - these he would dispose of at Vincennes, and with the money thus obtained, make his settlement with the state and local authorities. In looking over my father's tax receipts I found one, and the state, county, and other taxes were 75 cents. I expect father complained over high taxes.

William Wilson was Circuit Judge, a relative of my family, and was the greatest judge that sat on the bench. The nine circuit judges composed the Supreme Court. Wilson wrote most of the decisions in the first eleven volumes of that court. Two only of these were reversed, and then afterwards were re-affirmed. He was suceeded as circuit judge by that quaint and learned jurist, Justin Hanlan, but he is so well known by all middle-aged citizens of Crawford County, that it is unnecessary for me to speak of him at length.

When I was a boy in Palestine, the amusements were all primitive. There were no electric, gas, or kerosene lights, so the boys, and sometimes the girls, turned to the fiddle - not the violin - for an outlet for their musical souls, and there was a very large percentage of the men who played the fiddle. My father kept a hotel at Palestine, and always kept a fiddle for the entertainment of his guests, some of whom could always play. On one occasion I remember, there were twenty-five around the fire. After supper father came in, and they being largely unknown to each other, were silent. He got out the fiddle and handed it to the right handed man and asked him to play. Without hesitation he did so, and after playing a tune offered the fiddle to father who said to give it to the next man, and it was passed on. Out of the twenty-five, twenty-two played, and not an indiffernt fiddler among them. Of these, two, Hank Harrison and Sanford Beecher, were violinists. Hope and Selim Beecher were there also, but they were only fiddlers. The sweetest player, the man who came nearest giving Blind Milton's definition of a fiddler "a man who can make himself great with his own fiddle", was a left-handed fellow named jack Shaw. If when I die my can play the harp with as much feeling as Jack Shaw played the fiddle that night, I will be willing to spend eternity in heaven playing on that instrument, even though the crowd is not just to my taste. But in parentheses (I might even then prefer a Hades).

Other amusements being so scant, there was much dancing, and I do not belives any boy or girl ever enjoyed that diversion more than the boys and girls of Palestine. There were no castes in society, no dress suits for the boys, or fine gowns for the girls. I remember one wet, cold day a traveler came. He was wet, he had a fiddle, it was wet. He told father he wanted to stay with him and he had no money. "Can you play for a dance?" "Yes." "Will you?" "Yes." "You can stay." A November day of cold rain and five P.M. My brothers started out with two wagons full of girls. That night I danced my first cotillion with my cousin, Angelin Wilson. The weather remained bad and that fiddler stayed on, and we danced night after night. How I wish the boys and girls could have as good a time now. The standby in our dances was Alich Sutherland, who called the figure, and Alf Noore who played the fiddle. And they came as near giving boys and girls wings as a Methodist revivalist. Alich's voice was about as musical as Alf's fiddle.

But life was not all fiddlin and dancing. I think a boy's life was happier then because it was more simple. But it was more laborous and had more hardships. I think the eastern half of Crawford County is God's country and the early settlers of Palestine God's people. The town was largely Presbyterian and some of the best men I have ever known lived there. Finley Paull, Dr. E. L. Patton, and my uncle Harvey Eilson, I think the most consistant Christians I have ever known; and as fine a set of boys and girls came up in that time as ever grew to man and womanhood. They seperated, but I don't care where you meet a boy or girl out in the world, that was born and educated under the influence surrounding them in Palestine, they are honest, industrious and enterprising , with all the good qualities created by birth and the education of her schools, and the example of the men they knew when children. There is one man I want to mention especially, William Donnell. Man and boy, I knew him for thirty years. He was one of the greatest souls I ever met. If charity is the sweetest virtue, then he had it to an unlimited degree.

The town was largely Presbyterian, and once in the year, and that meant half of the town , went to the Beckwith Prairie to the Presbyterian church there. Church was held in the grove, and they all had a basket dinner. In one such occasion Wash and Ed Harper , Rush Patton, my brother John and myself, and some other good little boys were standing at the outskirts, and I was telling them some nice Sunday School stories, at which they insisted on laughing over. Father was always easily worried over bad conduct and constantly looked around at the laughing. I knew him and was watching him. When he looked around I looked solemn. Finally he looked aroun and picked up a good sized stick and threw it at me and hit Wash Harper on the side of the head. This broke up my Sunday School class. Someone proposed that we go and help ourselves to someone's dinner. When we opened the basket, Russ Patton said, "This is Aunt Hannah's (my mother's) basket." Well we finished our dinner and left like innocent boys. And hour after, Wash came and said "your father apologized for hitting me and said that he was throwing at his innocent boy Edward." Wash said" I didn't care for the blow but I did hurt for Uncle Newt to apologize to me after I had helped steal his dinner." But with all the high life and spirits we prospered. We were a manly set of youngsters. The old town always had good schools and my generation was able to get a good education.

In my day the leading merchants were Preston Bros., who had a chain of stores on the Wabash; were able men, and went to New Orleans and Evansville, and other places in wholesale after leaving Palestine. The other merchants were O. H. Bristol and Co., the company being A. E. Bristol, men of sterling and great ability.

At that time there were two flourishing mills in the town: one at the north end, owned by Col. John Houston and operated by Daniel Rumble. It could make more noise in grinding an ear of corn than a modern mill would in grinding two barrels of flour. One in the south end owned and operated by David Martin, afterwards turned into a steam mill, the miller being Rumble, the north mill being dismantled. One mill would do in grinding two barrels of flour.