Greenwood, Decatur MAGA © 2000-2007
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HISTORICAL SKETCHES

Virginia, Ill.

By: J. N. Gridley

Printed by the Enquirer
1907

DECATUR GREENWOOD

_____

Mr. Greenwood was born in Franklin county in the state of Virginia on the fifth day of January, 1821, and has passed the 84th mile-stone of his useful life, and is as active and vigorous as the average man of fifty. He came to this county with his wife and four children when he was 31 years old and settled in Chandlerville, this county, in 1852, where he remained for two years. The town then contained less than twenty houses. Mr. Greenwood was a carpenter by trade, but during the first winter of his residence, as mechanical work was not rushing, he was in the employ of Chandler and Olcutt, who were engaged in packing pork. By the spring following they had 1500 hogs packed in rail pens, covered with lumber. Mr. Greenwood insists that thieves were very scarce here, in those days for when they removed the pork, not a piece was missing. It was all taken to Beardstown by farmers' wagons which returned with merchants' goods. These hogs were sold for four and a half cents per pound.

Chandler and Olcutt owned a general store and William L. Way was also a merchant there at that time. Dr. Chandler was the leading physician in this part of the county and has gone as far as fifty miles from his home to visit patients. He would have several horses stationed at different points which he used one after another. Sometimes, he would send out several men, with as many horses to meet him in his rounds; he was full of energy. When people came to him for medicine on Sunday he refused to charge for it for a time, until he found his good nature was being imposed upon by people who made it a point to delay their applications until that day; then he charged the applicants and turned the money over to the Congregational church, of which he was a member.

The Methodists had regular services in Chandlerville when Mr. Greenwood settled there. Among the early preachers of the town he remembers Lippencott (the father of Charles E. Lippencott) and a preacher named Beane.

Thomas Plaster, the father of Jeptha Plaster who lived a few miles below Chandlerville was a justice of the peace. A man named Haynes and a woman named Doty went to his house to be married. When the squire learned their business he solemnly shook his head saying: I married this woman once to Doty, and as the marriage did not turn out well, I am not going to marry her any more;" the disappointed couple went away to find another justice. Squire Plaster used to say that he owned stock in but two enterprises; one was in McKee's scales and the other in Lippencott's preaching.

Mr. Greenwood rented land of Dr. Chandler, the rent - one-third of the crop - delivered in the field. Part of the land was sown in oats. Prices were so low, that Mr. Greenwood, under the direction of Dr. Chandler set the oat shocks on fire as they were not worth hauling in. Childs, a tenant of Chandler's, hauled corn to Beardstown and sold it for ten cents per bushel.

Lippencott (Charles E.) was a physician, who married Emily Chandler, a daughter of the Dr. At the time of the marriage Mr. Greenwood accommodated the groom with a loan of thirty dollars and helped him gather up his housekeeping effects. Dr. Lippencott had some considerable medical practice - at one time having a number of small pox patients on his hands. Later on, he went to California leaving his wife in Chandlerville. Mr. Greenwood delivered to her, in her door-yard the letter giving her the account of the duel fought by her husband in the Golden State.

Mr. Greenwood recalls the canvass made by Cyrus Wright, a candidate for the state legislature. Some temperance legislation was being agitated; at a public meeting in Chandlerville, Mr. Wright, although a Baptist preacher expressed himself as bitterly opposed to the proposed temperance law and stated that rather than vote for it, he would vigorously fight against it. Squire McKee, a political opponent in answering him, said he knew something of Wright's military history; that on one occasion, he (Wright) had kicked an old woman out of her house and was fined five dollars for it. Candidate Wright lost his temper turned upon McKee and savagely threatened that if he repeated that statement, he would knock his teeth down his throat. It was about that time proposed to prepare the Sangamon river for navigation; a steamboat was purchased, Amos Dick became the captain of it; for several miles, trees, logs and drifts were removed from the channel. The town of Richmond was laid out near the Dick farm, and upon the plat a slough was marked "Harbor for Boats." This enterprise was short lived, the boat was seized and sold by the sheriff for debt. John Gum bought the boiler, hauled it to California and back and afterwards it was used by Jerry Davis in running a saw mill.

After a two year's residence in Chandlerville, Mr. Greenwood moved to Middle Creek near the present site of Oakford, but soon after went upon the farm of John P. Dick, about four miles above Chandlerville, where he remained for six years. While living on this farm Mr. Dick rode a horse upon a sidewalk for which he was arrested and fined by Raines police magistrate. Dick demanded an appeal and offered as sureties on the appeal, two men who were supported in whole or in part by the county. Upon the refusal of the Court to accept this bond Mr. Dick gravely assured the Court he would not be able to make a bond, and would become a victim of injustice. The bond was finally signed by his brothers, Amos and Levi, and the papers sent to the circuit court. Wishing to avoid the expense of litigation over so trifling a matter, Dr. Boone on behalf of the town sent a proposition by Mr. Greenwood to Mr. Dick that the town would remit the fine if he (Dick) would pay the costs. This offer was declined, and Mr. Greenwood took back a message to that effect that if the town would remit the fine, and pay the costs, and remit two other fines standing against two friends of Mr. Dick and build a certain bridge, that the matter would end. This not being agreed upon, the case proceeded; the town lost, and for a long time afterward Dick would not use th town walk, but kept in the "middle of the road."

Some years later on Mr. Greenwood lived on land adjoining a farm of John B. Gum in Menard county. Mr. Gum, one season harvested 2500 acres of wheat using seven harvesting machines which were run day and night until the work was done. Gum had a blacksmith shop on one of his farms, and a stranger came along and wanted to rent it; Mr. Gum asked him if he (the proposed tenant) would be willing to do his (Gum's) blacksmith work for the use of the shop and tools; the stranger, supposing he was an ordinary farmer, gladly closed with the offer. A few days afterward Gum came with fifty mules to be shod; the smith said he could not stand that, and a new contract was patched up.

For several years Mr. Greenwood helped Col. Judy drive hogs from Sangamon, Menard and Cass counties to Beardstown, often passing through this city with as many as fifteen hundred in a single drove.

The mental faculties of Mr. Greenwood are excellent; he can walk a half dozen miles or more with perfect ease; he is a man of the highest sense of honor and of the strictest integrity. May he live to see the remainder of a hundred years.


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