McConnell, Cynthia Ann MAGA © 2000-2007
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Virginia, Ill.

By: J. N. Gridley

Printed by the Enquirer



The father of the subject of this sketch, was Dr. Ephraim Rew, who was born in the State of Massachusetts in the year 1778. He started on horseback in December, 1829, from his home in the state of New York, on a western trip, hoping to benefit his health. Six weeks later, he arrived at Meredosia, Illinois, in Morgan County; he had greatly improved in health, and being pleased with the western country returned for his family. As there were two physicians in Meredosia, he concluded he would settle at Beardstown, in which there was but one house, at the foot of Lafayette street in which lived Thomas Beard and family, and also another family with them. Dr. Rew came from St. Louis on a flatboat; he was six weeks in making the river trip. He covered the deck of an old boat in the river with flat stones, on which to build fires for cooking purposes, and began cutting timber in the woods on the Schuyler side of the river, for his cabin, the family, in the meantime living on the boat in the river. At the end of a few weeks. Dr. Rew and his family consisting of himself, wife and his son, Bradford, upon the earnest solicitation of Thomas Beard moved into the cabin 16 feet square with the other two families. In the meantime he proceeded with his building enterprise, and erected a cabin 15 feet square on the northeast corner of Second and State streets on part of lots 6 and 7 in block 11, which property he purchased of Thomas Beard, May 9th, 1831. he lived in this cabin which stood where the opera house now is, but a few days when he sold it to John S. Wilbourn the same month and moved across the street south, on lots 3 and 4 in block 19, on which he again built a cabin for himself and family. The next year Dr. Rew traded this property with Henry Madison for the west half of the northeast quarter of Sec 29 T 18 R 11, which is about one mile west of Bluff Springs and he then moved into a house on Second street, in which house Cynthia Ann Rew was born on the 6th day of April, 1832. This house was afterwards moved 5 or 6 blocks south, where it remained until last fall when it was burned, 73 years after it was built, in 1831. At the date of her leaving Virginia in the spring of 1905 with her husband, David J. McConnell, to make their home at McCook, Nebraska, where their son, Lewis W. McConnell, resides she was the oldest native of Beardstown living in Cass county.

Dr. Rew was the first physician at Beardstown, and while there he practiced medicine, and continued his practice after removing to his farm near Bluff Springs, and up to his death. He was a widower, with five children, and when he married his second wife, the subject of this sketch, being the only child of the second marriage. While living in Beardstown, Mrs. Rew assisted her husband in a financial way, by making men's clothing. In 1833, the Doctor moved from Beardstown to the tract in 29-18-11, which he had procured of Madison, and on May 17, 1836, purchased of John Gains an additional 120 acres adjoining. This land is now part of the Oetgen farm. Mrs. McConnell remembers, that her father dug ditches along the boundaries of his lands, to protect his crops from cattle, as fences were expensive in those days.

Here Dr. Rew remained, raising crops, and practicing medicine until his death which occurred on the 23d day of May, 1842, when his daughter, Cynthia, was ten years and one month old. She well remembers that on the morning of his death, he told his wife, that his time had come; that he had some business matters with his neighbors, that ought to be settled; he mounted his saddle horse and rode away to finish that work; in a few hours he returned, and complaining of being cold, asked the wife to put away the horse, and he went to his bed, and slept for a short time, and upon his awakening, his wife asked him if he would have some gruel made; he replied that he would prefer heartier food, and she went to the smoke house to get a slice of ham to cook for him, his little child remaining at his bedside. While the mother was cooking the meal, he turned his head, looked long and earnestly into the eyes of his young daughter, and died without uttering a word. He was a Free Mason, and the members of his order came from long distances to attend his funeral services, which were conducted by Rev. Levi Springer, who lived for many years on his farm three miles east of Virginia. He was buried in the old cemetery in the city of Beardstown which he assisted to establish. The stone at his grave has crumbled away, and the spot where he lies can not now be located.

The estate of Dr. Rew was settled by his son, Horatio G. Rew; the sale of the personal property was held on Saturday, July 30, 1842, at the farm.

An extract, from the sales bill, may be of interest, as it shows the prevailing prices paid at sales in that day:

One large cow and calf sold to Nathan F. Horn for $9.
One dun cow sold to John B. Bell for $8.25.
One brindle cow sold to Jesse Ankrum for $10.12.
One brown cow sold to Stephen Hoit for $10.
One red cow sold to John McKown for $8.50.
Two cows taken by the widow at appraised value.
One three-year-old white steer sold to Augustus Krohe for $12.
One two-year-old red steer sold to John Duchart for $8.75.
One red yearling heifer sold to Amos Bonney for $5.
One red lineback heifer sold to John Duchart for $3.25.
One bay mare sold to John Decker for $57.
One bay mare sold to Mrs. Lucy Ann Rew for $40.
One two-year-old roan filly sold to George White for $41.
One yearling bay filly sold to Wesley Daugherty for $20.
One three-year-old brown gelding sold to J.C.A. Seeger for $61.50.
One small sucking cold sold to Amos Bonney for $19.
Ten bbls. corn sold to John J. Moseley for $6.06.
Five bbls. corn sold to W. B. Gaines for $2.50.

Joseph M. McLane was the crier of the sale and N. B. Thompson was the clerk. John Savage was the collector of taxes in 1843.

The mother of Mrs. McConnell, Mrs. Lucy Ann Rew, married Benjamin Stribling, on March 26th, 1846. The ceremony was conducted by Rev. Reddick Horn, a Methodist protestant preacher. Mr. Stribling was the father of Isaac Milton stribling; he entered 480 acres of land in secs 32 and 33 T 18 R 10, in 1830; most of this land now belongs to the heirs of I. M. Stribling. Mr. Benjamin Stribling brought his new wife and her daughter to this farm, and here Mrs. McConnell was married to David J. McConnell on September 4, 1855, by Rev. L. C. Pitner, a noted Methodist preacher, the year previous to her marriage Mrs. McConnell professed religion at a camp meeting conducted by Peter Cartwright at the Garner Chapel grove, six miles east of Virginia. Her husband was then a clerk in a store owned by William Chase, of Beardstown; this store was in Virginia, on lot 109, where the shoe shop of John Menzies now is: immediately after the marriage Mr. and Mrs. McConnell removed to Beardstown where he was employed by Chase in his Beardstown store; Chase married Susie Miller, who was a sister of Mrs. Sarah C. Gatton, of this city. Here they remained for nearly twenty years, or until 1874, when Mr. Benjamin Stribling purchased the Bevis property in Barden and Wood's addition to Virginia, and invited Mrs. McConnell to come and live with them. They moved into the Stribling property, and here remained until the spring of 1935. Mr. Stribling died June 25, 1880, and his widow, the mother of Mrs. McConnell, died January 11, 1896.

Mrs. McConnell's memory of past events is excellent; the first church service she recollects was held by Rev. Levi Springer at the farm house of her father, when she was 14 years old; the house contained one room, 18 feet square; benches and chairs were brought in for the hearers; among whom were Mr. Garlick and wife, Mrs. Frank Hammer, of Beardstown, Mr. and Mrs. Higgins, Mr. and Mrs. Gaines. When she was seven years old a school house was built where Bluff Springs now is situated. Mr. Henry Babb was the first teacher, Mary Ann Lindsley, who afterward married John L. Buckley, was the second teacher; the next was a man named Humingston, who was a brutal wretch who deserved hanging. Of her step-father, Mr. Stribling, she says he always regarded her as if she was his own child, and she declares that he was one of the best men that ever lived.

Mrs. McConnell's husband, David J. was born January 4, 1830 in the state of Tennessee; when he was a year old his father, John M. McConnell, a tailor, brought him to Missouri; he came to Beardstown in 1848. he died in the west, a few weeks after their departure from this city.