C. P. ESTES, dealer in musical instruments at Metropolis, Massac County, is a son of Joseph Estes, who was born at Ft. Nashville, or where Nashville, Tenn., now stands. Joseph Estes' father was a Frenchman, who worked his way up the Mississippi and Cumberland Rivers from New Orleans to Ft. Nashville at an early day. Joseph Estes was a farmer and a hard-working, intelligent and honest man. For the times in which he lived he was well educated, which education, however, was obtained more by his own private endeavors, than by contact with the schools, which in his days in Tennessee were very few and far between, and very poor. He was a man of sound judgment, and his opinions were highly prized by the people among whom he lived. He followed farming for the most part and removed from Tennessee to Kentucky, where he was married to Ritty Lee, a native of South Carolina, who was of English extraction.
While living in Kentucky, Mr. Estes became dissatisfied with the condition of things in that State, and in order, as he hoped, to better his condition he came to Illinois. He assisted in the formation of a colony, consisting of thirty families, and with their ox-teams they all started for the new and better land. They reached the Ohio River opposite the present site of Cave in Rock, where the river opposed an obstacle to further progress difficult to surmount. The great question which then presented itself for solution was how to get across the river. Among the colonists was a carpenter by the name of Barker, and under his direction timber was cut down, lumber sawed out with a whipsaw, logs hewed, and at length a boat was constructed, by means of which they all crossed over the river and reached the promised land, not even the leader being left behind. This was in 1807, and thus these colonists were among the very earliest settlers in Hardin County. They took up land and began life in the wilderness. The timber was excellent, and they built log houses, each day witnessing the completion of one house, and it was not long before the entire thirty families were all safely and snugly housed, each in a domicile of its own. Then the work of clearing up the land began. They raised a little corn the first year, but the nearest mill was eighty miles away, and, as there were no roads or other means of communication, that was a considerable distance to go to mill. These pioneers therefore set to work to invent a kind of mill of their own. The end of a huge log was squared off, set up on end, and live coals were placed in the center, and by keeping the edges wet a hole or depression was made by the fire, which, when deep enough and large enough, served as a mortar, into which the corn to be ground was placed and beaten with a heavy pestle of wood, and thus made into meal. Corn bread was afterward quite plentiful, and as the woods abounded in all kinds of game, such as deer, turkeys, etc.. and as there was an abundance of wild honey, these early settlers had a great abundance to eat, and any one who could not manage to keep from starving on such good and varied diet would indeed be hard to please.
Thus a commencement was made, but all, however, were not satisfied with their surroundings. The country around them was rough, and the land in many places poor, and thinking there was better land further back from the river, Joseph Estes, after a consultation with others, persuaded fifteen families to hitch up their oxen, load up their wagons and seek still another location. After starling they continued traveling until they came to prairie land, where the country was more level, and where there was still timber enough for all needful purposes. They therefore made a settlement in what is now Franklin County, this State, and began again the work of building, clearing, etc. Here Mr. Estes lived until 1840, when he sold out and moved to what is now Jefferson County, where he secured six hundred acres of land, made a good home for his family and lived upon it until his death, which occurred in 1849. His wife, the mother of the subject of this sketch, was his companion through all these trials and hardships and labors. She died in 1856. To her and her husband there were born sixteen children, viz: James L., who was four years old when the move was made to Illinois. He was the pride of the family, and his father sent him to Cincinnati, where he obtained a fair education, and eventually became quite a prominent man, and died in Chicago. John and Priscilla, who both died in Franklin County; Elijah, who died in Oregon; Lucy and Annie, who died in Perry County; Absalom, who died in Jefferson County; Joseph, who died in Keokuk. Iowa; Elizabeth, widow of Alfred Bettis. of Benton, Ill.: Matilda, wife of Robert Creed, of the State of Washington; Chisholm, who died at Mt. Vernon, Ill.; Patience, wife of Parson Taylor, a preacher of Franklin County; Melinda, deceased; Calvin P.; Mary Ann, wife of D. P. Goodrich, of Mt. Vernon, Ill.; and Maletna, deceased.
Calvin P. Estes, the fourteenth child, was born in Franklin County. January 5, 1832, and was reared on the farm, where he herded cattle and sheep for his father during his younger days. He attended school but little until after he was fourteen years of age, and was then sent to Keokuk, Iowa, to make his home with his elder brother, James, and there he had better opportunities than in the country. His education, however, was obtained through practical experience in connection with the business which he followed. One of his brothers had a tin shop and store at that point, and his assistance was almost indispensable to that brother. He was an excellent salesman and very quick and active, and remained there from the spring of 1850 to the fall of 1857. Then the feeling of unrest which characterized his father manifested itself in him, and away he went to California, first to San Francisco, then to more northern points, and at length to Oregon. He spent two years in the Western country, buying stock, handling sheep, etc., with success, and he then returned to Keokuk, Iowa, where he secured an agency for selling lands for Charles Mason, Commissioner of the Patent Office. He continued thus engaged and in selling timber for about three years, and he then became engaged in general trading and speculating, with Keokuk .as headquarters. He then went to Mt. Vernon, Ill., where he engaged with W. W. Kimball in the piano and organ business, which business he has followed ever since. He has built up a large and successful trade, which extends over a large territory.
Mr. Estes was married first in 1855, at Keokuk, Iowa, to Addie Jennings, who was a native of Zanesville, Ohio, and died in 1869. He was then married at Vienna, Ill., to Clara Kimball, of Golconda. Ill., who is still living. By his first marriage he had five children, viz: Delia, wife of Frank Earsman, a contractor and builder of Helena, Ark.; Maggie, wife of Edward Keeley, editor of the Dramatic Star, of Seattle, Wash.; William J., engaged in business with his father; and Mary and Florence, both of whom died in Keokuk, Iowa. By his second marriage he has had two children, viz: Charlie K., at home; and Ritty Lee, deceased. Politically, Mr. Estes is a Democrat, and both he and his wife are members of the Congregational Church. He has been in business at Metropolis for twelve years, and his is the leading house in his line of trade. Mr. Estes is a genial and popular gentleman, and is highly esteemed in this portion of Illinois.
Extracted from Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, published in 1893, page 474
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