James A. Tadlock, Cave-in-Rock, will soon be eighty-one years old.
CAVE-IN-ROCK, Ill. (May 2, 1935) — Among the old and highly respectable citizens of Hardin County is James A. Tadlock, whose home for the past 75 years has been near Cave-in-Rock. He was born in Grundy County, Missouri on July 13, 1854, and will therefore be eighty-one years of age during the coming month.
He was the oldest child of the late John B. and Fidelia Tadlock and is the only living member of the famly, his two sisters having passed away several years ago. Mr. Tadlock has some memories of his life in Missouri though the family left there when he was but a small child. He remembers when deer was so plentiful that a herd came up near the home early one morning and his father shot two before breakfast. He also remembers the roving bands of Indians who infested Grundy County which at that time was thinly settled. It was his father's habit to put bells on his horses when he turned them out to pasture. At times Indian stole these bells. One occasion his father noticed that the bell rang in a peculiar manner. He began to investigate and discovered an Indian in the forks of a nearby tree. He seized his captain ball rifle, fired, and killed the Indian.
In the year 1859, the father brought his children to Kentucky, coming on a boat to Caseyville. From there they went to Critttenden County where the father worked for a short time at Bell's Mines. In 1860, they moved to Sellar's Landing in Hardin County, where he worked in a paper mill until sometime in 1861. At that time he enlisted in 56th Illinois Regiment and served for three and one half years in the Union Army during the Civil War. During this period the subject of this sketch and his two young sisters were left at the home of their uncle, James Tadlock at Sellar's Landing. Their father lost one eye in the service and was honorably discharged before the close of the war.
When he returned he moved his family a mile farther down the river to Battery Rock, where he took charge of the ferry between there and Caseyville. The boy, James, many times, helped his father pull the ferry boat across the river when it was loaded with Union men. He remembers very distinctly an incident which occurred in connection with one such occasion. Fifteen Union men were being ferried across the river. A tow boat under Rebel control was coming down the river. It was clearly their intention to run over the ferry boat. One of the Union soldiers fired at shot into the pilot house. The pilot then backed the boat just in time to save the soldiers.
At another time some gun boats were lying at Battery Rock. He was on one of them when a cannon was fired at some Rebel soldiers across the river. As Mr. Tadlock tells the story, "The jar almost knocked my teeth out."
When school was in session at Battery Rock he attended there and well remembers using an old time Websters "Blue backed Spelling Book" and McGuffy Reader." The school was built of logs and the seats were made of split logs and supported on pegs and without backs.
In 1873, the father died at the age of 53, leaving the children alone in the world. His son James, who was then about nineteen years of age, worked and did the best he could to provide for his two sisters.
In 1877, he was united in marriage to Martha I. Whittier, who was two years younger than he. The marriage was a happy one and they lived together in Battery Rock Precinct for forty years. To this union sixteen children were born, nine of whom are living. They are: George Tadlock whose home is near Lamb Town, Clarence Tadlock, whose home is at Peters Creek, Richard, Charley and Freeman Tadlock, of Eldorado, Mrs. Laura Douglas and Mrs. Etta Littrell, who lives near Lamb Town. There are also forty-two grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.
In 1917 death separated the aged couple. Mr. Tadlock then sold his farm and moved to Eldorado, where his youngest daughter Mrs. Burman lived with him and kept house for him until her marriage. Since that time he has no fixed home but his visits among his children.
While living at Sellar's Landing, he fished as well as farmed and learned many things about fishing and building rigs of all kinds for the catching of fish. He is not content being unemployed and during the past winter while making his home with his son, George, of near Lamb Town he knit twenty fish nets, made twenty sets of hoops for them and completed the nets. He also made one dip net.
About fifty years ago Mr. Tadlock joined the Old Union Christian Church at Lamb and in his own words, "been living it ever since."
While his hearing is somewhat impaired, his general health is excellent. He is a small man, but wiry and active. He recalls a running and jumping contest held for men about fifty years of age at Elizabethtown. At that time he was about sixty-five. There were eleven other contestants, all younger than he. He won the running race easily and jumped fifteen inches further than any of the others. He still enjoys running and jumping with his grandsons and other lads of their age. He has a store of interesting reminiscences which he relates with such keen enjoyment that it is a pleasure to hear him.
For the past month he has been at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Laura Douglas at Cave-in-Rock, where he had an attack of influenza. He is now almost recovered and his many friends join in a wish that he may completely recover and live to enjoy many more years of activity.
Thanks to Wanda H. Reed for contributing this article to the Hardin County ILGenWeb site. The Hardin County Independent first published this article on May 2, 1935.
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