Hardin County

1893 - Casper Cummins

CASPER CUMMINS, a prosperous farmer of section 13, township 12, range 7, is one of the early pioneers of Pope County, and has seen and experienced much of the hardships of life in an uncultivated and wild country. His birth occurred in Washington County, Ind., October 16, 1835. He is a son of Benjamin R. Cummins, who was born near Beverly's Ford, Va., on September 9, 1806. The father of the latter, Benjamin R. Cummins, Sr., was also a Virginian by birth, was there married, and in 1811 came with his family to southern Illinois. He was among the early settlers of Saline County, living near Equality and having charge of the Government Salt Works at that place. All of that useful article sold in this part of the territory was made there by the Government, and there is still in the possession of our subject a large iron trough or kettle used in boiling the salt in his yard over a furnace. He hewed a farm out of the wilderness and resided there until he departed this life at a good old age, having reared four sons and four daughters. His wife survived him many years, dying in 1852 on the old farm.

Our subject's father was married in Indiana to Miss Mary J. Eslinger, a native of those parts, and of German parentage. For nine years prior to his marriage Mr. Cummins drove a stage in Kentucky and Indiana, and soon after that event came to Illinois, settling on one hundred and twenty acres of land one mile from the old block house which his father had left him. He arrived here in the spring of 1832, the year of the great high waters. He remained here eleven years, removing back to Indiana in 1843, and settling in Washington County, near Palmyra, the place of his marriage thirteen years previous to this date. He remained in this county until 1849, when he took his departure for Illinois again, settling this time in Pope County eight miles north of Golconda on one hundred and twenty acres of land, a portion of which our subject is now living on. The date of their arrival in this county and neighborhood was November 26, 1849, their journey having been made as far as Elizabethtown by water. They look passage on the side-wheel steamer "Fashion No. 2," which sunk in the river during the trip. The passengers were all rescued, and from that point the parents proceeded with their teams and lumber wagon which they had brought from Indiana. They arrived here just at dusk on November 26 and obtained a brand of fire at Thomas Fulkerson's to make their first fire with. There is still in our subject's possession parts of the running gear of this old wagon, which he still uses and which has been in use since that day. In the early time wagons, houses and indeed everything was built in a most solid manner, as though intended to last a century, and not on the modern plan, where sham and shellac cover a multitude of defects in the structure. The father first bought one hundred and twenty acres for $500, which he had purchased the previous year when on a trip to this locality. Subsequently he added two hundred and eighty acres, making the homestead one of four hundred acres.

The family of which our subject is the eldest comprised four sons and two daughters, the eldest and youngest sons being natives of Indiana, while the girls were born after their parents removed to Illinois, the other two sons being born when the parents lived in Saline County, Ill. The record is as follows: Casper; Wiley, who died in 1884, aged forty-seven years; Isaac L., whose death occurred in 1852; John S., a practicing physician at Raum; Sarah E., wife of John B. Rose, a farmer of this neighborhood; and Mary Jane, now Mrs. R. T. Hufford, a farmer of Hardin County. The father of these children died on the old homestead in 1863, and is buried in the family cemetery on the place, the deed of which tract is in the possession of our subject. At the time of his demise he had reached the age of fifty-seven years. His wife, who died in December, 1876, was just three-score years.

Our subject passed his boyhood in Indiana, the place of his birth, and at the tune of his parents' removal to this State he was fourteen years of age. In 1851 he went to Golconda and clerked in a dry-goods store, of which N. D. Clark was the proprietor, and remained with him eight years, then returning to the farm. In 1860 his father gave him one hundred and twenty acres of land, and in the following year he was married to Miss Margaret E. Dixon, their marriage being celebrated June 23, 1861. Mrs. Cummins is the daughter of Thomas E. Dixon, a native of Tennessee, in which State her birth also occurred, the date being May 13, 1845. With her parents she went to Helena, Ark, in 1859, from which place they removed to Illinois. In 1878 the father died in Arkansas, aged seventy-two years. His wife survived him for about two years, dying at the home of our subject in 1880. Mrs. Cummins is one of four children who are now living, the others being Amanda Simpson, of Arkansas; J. M., a resident of Louisiana; and Reuben L. who lives in Arkansas.

Among the first to respond to the call for troops in the War of the Rebellion was Mr. Cummins, who enlisted as a private in 1861, becoming a member of Company K, Fifty-sixth Illinois Infantry. He was discharged from service February 18, 1862, on account of poor health, returning to his wife, who, during his absence, had remained at the home of her father. They removed to their present farm in November, 1866. Their family comprises the following living children: John R., aged twenty-one, who is married (his wife having been Miss Ida M. Weekly), and is assisting in carrying on the home farm; Robert A., Lollie A. and William A., aged respectively eighteen, ten and five years, are still living under the parental roof. Edward H., Mary J., Lillie M. and an infant son are deceased. The children have all been given good educational advantages, Robert A., the next eldest, having received a certificate to teach. For many years Mr. Cummins has been School Director and Road Commissioner. He is a true and stanch Republican and a member of the Knights of Honor. On August 12, 1891, he and his wife joined the Methodist Church, our subject having a license to exhort.

Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 614

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