Buckley, Mark MAGA © 2000-2007
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Virginia, Ill.

By: J. N. Gridley

Printed by the Enquirer



The subject of this sketch was born in the kingdom of England on the 10th day of May, 1815, and will be ninety years of age, if he lives to the 10th of the coming month. His brother, John L. Buckley, was born in 1812, and in the year 1837 these two brothers bade good-bye to "Merrie old England" and started for Illinois, then a state younger than themselves, to seek their fortune. They set out for the far away home of Edward Fletcher, an old family friend who had settled about three miles northeast of the present town of Arenzville in this county (then Morgan county). the brothers arrived with their worldly effects at the Fletcher cabin in December, 1837, and were given a hearty welcome. The house being too small to accommodate the new comers with a lodging place, a nearby log schoolhouse - temporarily out of use, was taken possession of by the brothers, who went to a saw mill at Arenzville for some lumber which was thrown upon the ground and their bedding deposited thereon. the place was so cold that their bedding froze fast to the lumber. During the winter of 1837-38 the brothers gathered cord for Fletcher and on January 31, 1838, John entered the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Sec 33-17-11 (now owned by Eli Wood) and he and Mark built a cabin thereon.

Spring came on with unusual floods and storms, and John Buckley being a carpenter finding he could get employment at his trade in Jacksonville, gave up his plan to make a home on the 40 which he sold the same year to William Lawrence for $200 and went to the future "Athens of the West" taking his brother Mark with him. The latter soon became too sick to work in Jacksonville, and walked back to the Fletcher cabin and hired to Mr. F. the season of 1838 to work on his land for eight dollars per month.

The winter before, David Epler, who lived in the neighborhood, sold a good cow for twelve dollars, and the enormous price that cow brought was the wonder and talk of the whole settlement. One strong, lusty woodman walked a distance of three miles, taking his corn pone and slice of fried bacon for his dinner, to make one hundred rails for fifty cents. The reader will observe that times were much better then, than now; for this rail maker could earn an acre of land in three days, and earn a good cow in less than a month.

The preaching for the neighborhood was done by Richard Matthews, (father of the wife of J. T. Robertson of this city) who held forth in the cabins in lieu of a church. If chills and fever laid hold of a luckless settler, a boy on a horse was dispatched for Dr. Morrison who lived at Lexington - midway between Arenzville and Jacksonville.

After a few months spent in Jacksonville John Buckley came to the little scattered hamlet called Virginia and began the building of a house for James Samuels on lots 1 and 2 in the addition of the Public Grounds, still standing and occupied, and for long years the home of the family of John E. Haskell. As soon as Mark Buckley finished his contract on the Fletcher farm he came here to help his brother; they boarded for a few weeks in the Samuels home; then went to the boarding house of Deweber on the east side of Washington square - where the store of David Wilson is now located, and soon after, removed to the hotel kept by Dr. Pothecary on lot 102 in this city where Centennial bank now stands.

On the 20th day of May, 1839, Dr. Hall sold and conveyed to John L. Buckley lot 46 in the addition to Virginia for thirty dollars, and the Buckley brothers immediately began building a shop thereon 18 feet square and one and a half stories in height. this building is now in good condition, and forms main part of the house in which Frank Long lives one block west of the opera house on the south side of Springfield street. This shop they occupied for nine years as a carpenter and furniture shop; they used the upper part for sleeping room for a time, and when they found they owed Dr. Pothecary a board bill of sixty dollars, they did their own cooking in these bachelor headquarters. Not but what they had plenty of work to do, but money was so scarce they could not collect their bills, and they were finally compelled to notify their numerous customers that they must pay cash on delivery to the extent of the value of materials purchased by the manufacturer, and for the work and labor, credit was extended. Here they made coffins for the dead and furniture for the living, of native walnut and cherry, procured at the local mills. the coffins were sold at from $10 to $15 each; for a time only, the coffins for children were lined, by the women friends of the afflicted families, while the adults were buried in the bare walnut receptacles which were deposited in the ground without boxes or burial cases. A few years later, these boxes "come in style", and were made of well seasoned materials. Bedsteads and tables were made in the shop; some of them are now in use in this county on this day. A wheel was made by these mechanics which turned a lathe in the shop; the motive power was an old blind mare.

In these early days Col. West was the merchant on the west side of Washington square; he borrowed money right and left, and did business in dashing style. He wanted the loan of a few hundred dollars the Buckley brothers then had; they were doubtful of the propriety of letting it go and soon found their judgment was correct as the Colonel went into bankruptcy.

Mr. Loomis was one of the old-time teachers; the same who taught our high school a few years ago. In the old Protestant church where Skiles' lumber yard now is; Mr. Buckley remembers an early preacher named Fox who lived about 7 miles southwest of Virginia in the Nisbet neighborhood; another preacher was named Robertson.

The Mark Buckley farm lies about 5 miles east of Virginia and is described as west half of southwest quarter of Sec 4 and east half of southeast quarter of Sec. 5 T 17, Range 9, 160 acres. this land was owned by the Lees and mortgaged by them to the State Bank of Illinois. Hard times came on, the mortgage was foreclosed, and on April 14, 1848, this 160 acres with 15 acres of timber in Sugar Grove a couple miles west of the farm was conveyed by the bank to J. L. and M. Buckley for less than seven dollars per acre. In the meantime, on June 2, 1844, John L. Buckley had married Mary Ann Lindsley, a Cass county school teacher; the marriage ceremony was pronounced by Alexander Naylor, a Justice of renown, residing in the town. On August 21, 1848, John Buckley conveyed the shop and the furniture business to John Rogers and David Blair. The Buckleys moved into a log cabin built by one of the Lees and began farming. the John Buckley farm, now owned by Wm. Ross, lies less than a mile east of the farm of Mark Buckley and is described as east half of northeast quarter of Section 9 and west half northwest quarter of Section 10, T. 17-9. this farm was naturally wet; it had also become the property of the State Bank and on October 20, 1848, John Buckley bought the farm of the bank for two dollars and fifty cents per acre. One hundred dollars per acre would hardly buy this farm today.

It appears that John Buckley was very unlike his brother Mark, the latter being a man satisfied with slow and steady gains, while John was more venturesome. Accordingly we find John catching the gold fever in 1849, and proposing to go off to California, against the protest of his wife, while Mark, had no desire to leave Illinois. Away went John with Joseph Cosner, Dr. Pothecary, Dr. Schooley and Mike Whittlinger, to make his everlasting fortune digging out gold. He went into an enterprise with two sons of Alexander Beard; these prospectors found some particles of gold along the banks of a small stream and at once surmised there was plenty of the precious metal scattered along the bed of the stream; accordingly they went to work, at a great expense of time, cash and muscle, to divert the flow of water into a new channel. When their task was ended, there was nothing found but the bare rocks that formed the bed of the waterway. Mr. Buckley returned very little richer than he went.

Mark Buckley was married to Miss Cornelia Job, a daughter of Archibald Job, who was an early settler and a prominent man, on March 26, 1850, when she was between 17 and 18 years of age. They have reared five children, two sons and three daughters. He left his farm and took up his residence in this city. he was not born with a very strong constitution, but by a quiet and sober life has prolonged his years to very nearly ninety. His brother, John L., died in this county in 1885 at the age of 73; and his widow followed him nine years later at the age of 78 years.

{A note on the first page of this sketch indicates that Mark Buckley died on 2 March 1906.}