Source: Gregory Dunn web site, accessed 26 May 2004 at; originals in possession of Gregory Dunn [address for private use] as of 23 May 2009.
Published here by permission. Printed = 22 pages


Color legend:

Black, the autobiography text identical in Kelly Book and original manuscript

(italics) original manuscript text as transcribed by Greg Dunn, 1994 differing from Kelly Book

Red, changed wording as published in Kelly Book, 1972

Dark blue, editorial comments of compilers of Kelly Book, 1972

Light blue, Frank M. Crain and others, published in Kelly Book, some 1915, mostly 1949, commenting and supplementing autobiography

Green, C.Q. McGinnis, 1915

Brown, Greg Dunn, 1998

"The Kelly Family Book" was compiled and published privately in 1972. (LCC#72-86152) The authors are Laura Kelly and Esther Kelly Watson. Because the Kellys married the Crains, and because James Crain McGinnis was a Crain on his mother's side, the autobiography he wrote was a centrally important document for both Crain and Kelly early ancestry. Through Dr. Charles Quincy McGinnis of St. Louis, son of James Crain McGinnis, via a cousin living in 1915 in Havana, Cuba, Ralph Crain, grandson of William Crain, itinerant minister, discussed at length in the autobiography, acquired a copy of the autobiography. This copy was passed down through the Crain family and was commented upon and eventually acquired and privately published by the Kelly genealogists, without notification to the McGinnis family. The Kelly research has been careful and adequate. There are however significant differences from the original handwritten autobiography which has come down to me through my mother's McGinnis family. This section compares the Kelly Manuscript Version with the original written version. GDunn.


The following chapter is included because it relates to the history of the CRAIN family. James Crain McGinnis, the principal author, was a nephew of Moriah Maldon Crain (his mother, Mary Harrison Crain McGinnis, was the older sister of Moriah Maldon Crain), third wife of Clinton Kelly. The several footnotes, indicated by parenthetical initials, show that this manuscript has been reviewed by other members of the family, who have added explanatory notes. The following legend will clarify relationships: (RWC) - Ralph Waldo Crain, nephew of James Crain McGinnis (CQMcG) - C. Quincy "Quince" McGinnis, son of James Crain McGinnis (FMC) - Frank Matthew Crain, brother of Ralph W. Crain, and nephew of James Crain McGinnis (ED) - Estella McKeehen Duddleson, great-great-great granddaughter of John Crain and Sarah Rousseau Crain

"Havana, Cuba February 28, 1915

To the Crain Family and Connections:

I have just received a most valuable addition to the Crain family history which I am now engaged in writing and compiling. I refer to an uncompleted autobiography which was written in 1876 and 1877 by James Crain McGinnis. I have to thank for this my cousin Dr. C.Q. McGinnis, of 4257 Meremac Street, St. Louis, Missouri, a practicing physician in that city. Dr. McGinnis, as my request, has been so kind as to copy his father's original manuscript, and for which service I am deeply grateful to him. In copying this work, Dr. McGinnis has inserted in parentheses side remarks of his own which bear on the subject in hand. These I shall mark with the Doctor's initials to show he is the author of such comments. I find that in later research made by myself certain additional information has come to light, and in a few cases I have come into possession of corrected dates and other little items of information which bear on the subject so closely that I shall also make some insertions enclosed in parentheses, marking same with my own initials (RWC). The parenthetical remarks occurring in the original manuscript, if any such occur, will be set off by dashes, thus - to show that they belong to the original manuscript, so that in such cases it will not be necessary to employ the initials of the original author. We should be proud of the fact that our family is of the old time genuine American stock, dating far back into Colonial times. In the mountainous sections of Virginia and Kentucky have lived for many generations the descendants of the bold and hardy pioneers, of the stamp of Daniel Boone, who are of Scotch, Irish and English blood, who are men and women of splendid physique and high courage, with a code of honor higher than written law, free from the taint of wealth and caste, loyal to their families and to their friends - where blood is thicker than water, where liberty and freedom are fairly infused into the mountain air they breathe, and where men are not afraid to die." While it is to be lamented that Major McGinnis did not complete this work, yet we may consider ourselves fortunate in securing even this fragmentary portion of the family history in the early days: I hope that they may be supplemented by the elderly members of the family whose memory reaches back almost to this same period, who may help us to piece out the narrative here begun, though of course not in the comprehensive manner that would have marked the work of the distinguished man who began it."


I am now forty-six years old and have had a most eventful career - a history of which I propose to write a history for the benefit and satisfaction of my descendants. I do not possess, no could I obtain, a single line written by any one of my ancestors, and I have only traditional information (stories) those whom I have not seen. ( concerning some of them as I hope to preserve.) If my descendants will preserve this record, ( By this record) they may know some thing of their ancestors who lived during the Great American rebellion and (who) witnessed many of its most stirring events. I shall write of little things and great ones, as I have witnessed them so that those coming after me will have a true picture of my life and of the scenes through which I have thus far passed.

My father William McGinnis was born in Kentucky. When he was about ten years of age (old) he was left to shift for himself and he entered into indentures with a stone mason in Wayne County, Kentucky. (went to work for a stonemason.) He stayed with this man until he (had) mastered the business, then went (at which time he moved into) Pulaski County, Kentucky.; When he was only about nineteen years old, he met and married my mother, Mary Harrison Crain. He joined the business of a stone and brick mason with that of a farmer and prospered fairly until the year 1836 when he removed to the State of Missouri and settled in the village of (St.) Francisville in Clark County where he continued his former occupations until his death, September 9, 1838 (he was killed by a quack doctor with calomel on the 9th of September 1838.) He was about six feet four inches high, and weighed one hundred and seventy pounds, as straight as an arrow and as supple and active as a panther( tree and as supple as a panther. I will speak of his appearance further in another place.) His complexion was very dark, his eyes piercing black and his hair was glossy black. My mother, Mary Harrison Crain was born in Kentucky and was the daughter of John Crain (b 25, April 1774) and Sarah Rousseau Crain (b. 11 January, 1776); both ( who) were born in Culpeper County, Virginia .( in 1765 and 1774 respectfully, and married in that place in 1794 and moved to in 1795.)My mother's parents first moved to Kentucky in 1795, coming down the Ohio River in flat boats in the company with a colony of Rousseaus, Rodgers, Crittendens, Dogans, etc. They landed at Maysfield and first settled what is now Woodford County, which was then a wilderness, almost without any settlement.

(The father of this John Crain was a soldier in the Virginia line throughout the Revolutionary War. My grandmother's maiden name was Rousseau and her mother's maiden name was Rogers. There were three sisters of this name, one of whom married Rousseau, my great-grandfather. One married Crittenden and became the mother of Senator John J. Crittenden, and the other married Ben Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the father of General William Henry Harrison, President of the United States. These sisters had several brothers, one of whom was killed at the Battle of Blue Licks in Kentucky. Rousseau's ancestor was a Huguenot who came to South Carolina in 1668 at the time of the Huguenot emigration from France. From Carolina the family removed to Virginia about the commencement of the 18th century.) note: In the forward, it is stated: "In the absence of any documentation to establish such a relationship, we are dropping all reference to a kinship with Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and with James Crittenden of Crittenden Compromise fame." (My mother's parents first removed from Virginia to Kentucky in 1795 coming down the Ohio River in a flat-boat in company with a colony of Rousseaus, Rogers, Crittendens, Fords and Dogans. They landed at Maysville and first settled in what is now Mason County which was then a wilderness, almost without any settlements at all. )

Thence they moved to Pulaski County about 1805 ( they removed to Pulaski County) and settled on Pitman's Creek about five miles from Somerset, Kentucky, and there they lived until 1858 when Grandfather John Crain died. (and in) In 1869 Grandmother Sarah Crain died and their ashes repose side by side on what is known as the Big Spring Keaney-Crain place (now occupied by one of their grandchildren, Mrs. Sarah Kelly. -May they sleep well.)

My parents were married in Pulaski County, Kentucky and I have often heard my mother say that she spun and wove the material for all of the clothes (every thread of clothing that) she wore on that occasion (with her own hands. (However dressed) they must have been a(n unusually) handsome couple (pair) as they stood that day. Mother's complexion was dark, her hair soft and brown, and her eyes dark hazel, (soft) and very expressive. I have often heard her say that on their wedding day father held his arm out at right angles with his body, and that she stood erect under it; ( so that ) she must then have been only about five feet tall ( in height). (Since I can remember she was considerably taller, so that she was not full growth when she married. That) She was very active; (I know for) I have seen her jump (leap) over a six rail fence and I have seen her tie her dress around her ankles and locking her hands together jump (leap) over them so that her hands would be behind her back still locked together.

On the 19th of July 1830 I was born in a one-roomed log cabin on Pitman Creek four miles southeast of Somerset. On what is now known as the Richardson Place about half a mile above the Old Gragg Campground. The old cabin was still standing when I was in Kentucky last in 1853. It stood on the side of a hill about 50 yards from the Creek (on the side of the hill) just where the road leaves the Creek in going (to) toward Somerset. A man could stand on the ground and reach the eaves. It was covered with clapboards which were held in place logs laid traversely (by heavy poles laid on the side) one to each course of boards. These logs ( poles) were held apart by wooden knees. (at the proper distance by bits of wood called knees extending from the eave pole against which the corner pole rested.) The floor of this cabin was of hewn (lined with) slabs of wood called puncheons and the single door was of clap-boards buttoned( battened) together. The buttons (batons answering) also serving for hinges for the door. The cracks between the logs were chinked (chunked) with bits of (split) wood and daubed (dammed) with clay. There was no sawed timber about it; (As this was a rather superior cabin we had one window with six glass lights 8 x 10 inches square; and as) my father was a stone mason and (a monstrous man,) he built a stone chimney (to the cabin). It was also unusual in that it had one window with six 8" x10" glass lights. (There was not a bit of sawed timber of any kind about the structure and altogether it was such a shabby affair that I suppose I ought to be ashamed to have been born there. And the only apology I can make for having first seen the light in so very primitive and lowly a place, is that my parents did not consult me in the premises and I really could not help it. )

Before his marriage my father had built a house of cedar logs and called it "The Temple". This place they occupied but just a year or two when father sold it to Hiram Gragg who married my mother's sister Lucy. In this house Hiram Gragg lived until his death. ( lived until a few years ago when he died there.) Soon after I was born father (bought and re) moved (to another place) further down Pitman('s) Creek where my brother Francis Malden McGinnis was born in July 1832. Soon after this another sale and removal occurred; this time to the old Keam (Keane) and Keany (or Keeny) Place where my sister Lucy (Ann) was born. My father sold this place to Grandfather John Crain and soon after removed to Missouri. At the Three Springs where my brother Francis was born we lived in the midst of a dark forest, there being only a small clearing around our cabin. My father was absent from home many days at a time. At such times my mother had only her children and a couple of faithful dogs for company. But she was fearless and indeed the man who would have molested her would have run an immediate and deadly risk thereby as she always kept her own rifle and brace of pistols loaded in the cabin. And she could use them. I know for I have often seen her shoot at a mark with my father and she was hard to beat at it. At Three Springs she used to take her rifle and go around the edge of the clearing in sight of the cabin, leaving her little ones alone, and kill what squirrels she wanted for food.

When I was between three and four years of age I had a cancer on my side, nearly on the heart. My first distinct recollection is of the pain this occasioned me and of riding on a horse in front of my father with a pillow for a saddle and of going to a cancer doctor named Coomany who it seems charmed away the cancer after it had eaten a hole quite through the flesh between my ribs; so that the air rushed in and out of the aperture audibly at each respiration as my mother has often told me. There is an ugly scar left by the cancer which I will carry to my grave.

My Grandmother's brother John Rousseau lived in Wayne County, 25-miles from our home (house). He was a scholarly man (scholar) and very fond of children, and as he was in easy (good )circumstances (he chose to indulge his love of learning and of children by keeping) he kept a boarding school at his home (house) which was a very large one for the time ( that day and place). He had also a primary school kept in an outbuilding and presided over by himself. To this school I was taken when I was four years old. I well remember riding behind my father on a horse and how tired I got before we reached my uncle Rousseau's. His house was at the foot of the River Bluff at the outer edge of the (bottom, a few hundred yards from the) Cumberland River, and he had a farm of very rich land extending along the river bottom from the mouth of White (Oak) Creek to a point a mile or more down the river. Confederate General Felix K. Zollicoffer made my uncle's house his headquarters while his army crossed the Cumberland river and the Battle of Mill Springs where General Zollicoffer was killed during the late war, was fought on this property ( near there). My uncle - or more properly - Great-Uncle - had a number of Negro slaves who cultivated his farm and others who acted as servants to his family which was large. Both he and his wife, whom I remember as a fat, amiable woman, were large people. Although I shall not write a history of the collateral branches of my family yet I deem it appropriate to the object and scope of this work to give the names at least of the member of this portion of it. (My uncle was a man of great size like his kinsman Rogers: this neighbor was about 360 pounds and his height was six feet eight inches. About my only recollection of his wife is that she was a very large, fat and amiable woman.) Their eldest son James Armenius (Arminient) Rousseau became a physician and lived in Iowa until about 1861 (up to the breaking out of the last war). The next son was William R. Rousseau who also became a physician and after living in Texas a few years, then in Iowa until about 1861, when he may have returned to Texas. (came north. He lived in Texas until the war broke out. I think he is now in Texas.) The next was David Hillaire (Hilyar) Rousseau, who also became a physician and settled in Iowa as early as 1844 and married there in Fort Madison. He removed to Kentucky at the outbreak of the Rebellion and died there some years since. The next was a daughter - Lucy, who became a most beautiful woman and married a man named Henderson, I think, in Monticello, Kentucky. The next, Elizabeth, another beauty, married a man named Johnson (Alec) of Monticello. (I am not certain that I have not married those ladies to the wrong men - well...that often happens. Lucy may have married Johnson.) The next, Mary Ann "Polly" was also a great beauty. She married Alvin Jones of Pulaski County, (and, at the last account I had of her, was living) on the Old Crain Cabin Hollow Place a few miles south of Somerset. The next Elijah Rousseau was near my own age, a few months older. He is also a doctor and has been living in Texas many years. There was another son Joseph and I heard that he died unmarried.

My Great-Grandmother Lucy Rodgers Rousseau (note: while James Crain McGinnis gave her age at death as 103, later documentation indicates her age at time of death to have been 87 years.) was also living in my great- uncle's family. She was then nearly a hundred years old and quite blind. So helpless was she that she had to be led to and from the table, and have her pipe lighted for her. The kitchen and dining room were in a building separated by some distance from the residence as was usual at that day, and a rivalry soon sprung up between Elijah Rousseau and I for the privilege of leading Great-grandmother out of the dining room to her meals. This was compromised upon the understanding that Elijah should lead her to and from the dining room and I was always to fill and light her pipe. She used to sit in a high back chair and kept her tobacco in a pouch reticule hung to one of the chair rounds. The pipe was of baked clay, with a cane stem nearly a yard long, and was kept in the same convenient receptacle when it was not in active use, which was not often while the old lady was awake. (I think she lived until 1839.)

I was very young to be put into school, and do not think I learned much beyond the alphabet and spelling (in one and two syllable) of one and two syllable words. My father and mother had both been deprived of school facilities in their youth and determined that it should not be so with me which accounts for my having been started to school at such an early age. The total absence of schools in the neighborhood where they lived necessitated my being sent away to school. I used to get very tired and sleepy during school hours and when I could stay awake no longer "Uncle Jack", as we all called him, placed a cushion on one of the benches for my head and having me lie down, would take his big silk handkerchief and cover my face with it while I slept.

After I had been there something less than a year, Grandfather (Crain) came and took me home. I distinctly recollect (remember) the circumstances of his arrival on horseback late in the afternoon. Elizabeth and I were playing together in the orchard. Grandfather (Crain) rode close up to us before I saw him and when I ran up to him he threw a pocket knife down to me saying, "See what your father sent you."

Grandfather was a short, heavy-set man, being no more than 5 feet 4 inches in height and weighing nearly two hundred pounds. His hair had the peculiarity of having been white from his boyhood, while his complexion was almost a florid one, a perfect blonde with deep blue eyes. On the other hand, my Grandmother was a perfect brunette. Their daughters partook of both types, and were noted for their good looks - indeed, my Aunt Sarah Frances who married her cousin Thomas Marshall Crain was a great beauty.

My mother had two brothers, James and William Crain. James was also a short, heavy-set man and quite dark. He married Catherine (Kitty) Dogan, was a farmer and planted tobacco. He owned several slaves and was quite comfortably fixed for one living in that day and country. William Crain was a tall, handsome man, with a large head and plenty of brains. He was Rev. William Crain grandfather of Frank M. Crain. His educational faculties were limited to such instruction as he could obtain by going a few weeks each year to the subscription schools in the mountains of Kentucky, with a single term at his Uncle Jack Rousseau's boarding school. And as I will have occasion further on to refer more fully to those facilities, I will say no more about them here.

Of course, he was ignorant of the world and its ways, (William Crain was not illiterate and ignorant of the world and its ways) as well as of its learning, but he had an active mind (a great mind) and a warm heart and conscience void of offense towards his fellow man. Indeed, he felt a great desire to benefit his race, like many others - before and since-and he mistook this desire for a Divine call to preach. At the age of 18 years he left his father's house and became a wanderer, and zealous laborer in the vocation of a Methodist Circuit Rider - or itinerant preacher, whose horse was his only property, whose saddle was his home, and whose saddle bags contained his library, wardrobe and general outfit. He assiduously (sedulously) pursued the course of reading marked out by the discipline and government of his church and at the same time traveled all over southern and southwestern Kentucky preaching and exhorting.

Soon after Missouri became a state (10 August 1821) he joined the Missouri Conference and traveled all over the then settled portion of the State lying between the Osage and the Missouri Rivers with Jefferson City as one of his preaching places. There he preached to the Legislature in a log meeting house under the bluff and once or twice by invitation in the Capitol which was two- story brick building on Madison Street, near where in 1876 (constructed near where) the Gubernatorial Houses now stand.

About 1830 his health failed him, and he settled in Jackson, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri and there married Miss Harriett Tong. (gave way and he 'located' near his wife Harriet Ellen and lived in the Village of Jackson, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, and with her removed to) With his wife he moved to "Oliver's Prairie" in the northwest corner of Schuyler County, Illinois, where he entered (purchased) land and made him a home which he has occupied ever since, and where he has established a home, and raised a large and greatly respected family. (raised a numerous family. He had a fine farm and is in independent circumstances as of 1877.)

SUPPLEMENT: (The following supplement is copied from a notebook belonging to Margaret Pearl McKeehen (Mrs. J.L. McKeehen, great-granddaughter of Hiram Gragg and Lucy Crain Gragg) and mother of Estella Duddleson); found by Mrs. Duddleson after the death of Mrs. McKeehan. The handwritten copy, in Mrs. McKeehen's handwriting of "Autobiographical Manuscript by James Crain McGinnis, written 1872" was copied from a copy of this manuscript loaned to Mrs. McKeehen by frank Matthew Crain (1867-1952), son of William Harris Crain (1834-1904 and his wife Rachel Baxter, and grandson of William Crain (1802-1884) and Harriett Tong, great-grandson of John S. Crain (17714-1858) and Sarah Rousseau (1776-1869). This supplement will be initialed "FMC". In Mrs. McKeehen's notebook, it follows paragraph 1, page 16 of the McGinnis manuscript.) The following is a supplement and correction by Frank M. Crain, Augusta, Illinois, July 19, 1949: "My Grandfather and Grandmother, William Crain and Harriett Tong, were married about March or April, 1832, and in the fall of 1834 they moved from Cape Girardeau County, Missouri to Schuyler County, Illinois, arriving in Rushville, the county seat, on Dec. 6 and remaining there until Feb. 1835, when they moved to their land at the extreme west end of Schuyler Cou7nty, in Section 6, in Huntsville Township. In 1834 (August) Grandfather, in company with Abraham Newfield had come from Missouri to Illinois. Part of the land he bought and part he entered. Some of it was near the timber and part was prairie, I think previously called "Oliver's Prairie". Grandfather moved into a double log house that stood on the place and lived there until 1838 when he moved into a frame house that he had recently built. This house with the exception of one room, parlor on the west, is still standing (1949) and is occupied by Mr. And Mrs. Fred Ferris, who is employed by Lawrence Graham, who now owns this farm - 110 acres; this being just a part of the land Grandfather owned. Harriett was the daughter of James T. Tong and Elizabeth Thompson, and her mother died when Harriett was three years old. An aunt, Mrs. Eleanor Tong Newfield, took the little girl to raise and cared for her as though she had been her own daughter, and after he marriage always lived near her. Eleanor's husband, Abraham Newfield (Grandpappy) in 1836 built a frame house just across the lane south of Grandfather's house. It was torn down many years ago. Abraham Newfield died Feb. 6, 1854, and later aunt Eleanor married Thomas Brunton, March 22, 1868, and was buried in the Pulaski cemetery by the side of Abraham Newfield. She was spoken of, as far back as I can remember, as Grandmother Brunton. Grandfather's first children were twins, James Newfield Crain and John Franklin Crain. The next was my father, William Harris Crain, who was born June 16, 1834. These three were born in Missouri and the other ten were born at the old house inIllinois. James Newfield Crain married catherine Debenham; John franklin Crain married Margaret Howard; William Harris Crain married Rachel Baxter, Sarah Ellen Maria (Aunt Ellen) married Robert Ellis, and after his death, Capt. John S. Crain, about Nov. 10, 1880. The next four children - George, Mary, Elizabeth and Julia, died in infancy. Harriett Eliza married William Kirk, (William and Harriet Eliza Kirk lived for a number of years in The Dalles, Oregon and attended a number of Kelly reunions.) Benjamin Bacon Crain (Uncle Ben) married Nettie Gatlin and later Nellie Hess. Henry Clay Crain married Jennie Reed. Edwin Morris Crain (Uncle Ed) married Ellen Fisher. Mary Frances (Aunt Mary) married Quincy Allphin (a preacher) and after his death, Rev. John Helmick, a Methodist. The entire family is gone, Uncle Ben having been the last. He passed away 26 Nov. 1946 at the age of 95. Grandmother died 1 Nov. 1884, and two days later Grandfather died. They had bought a house in August and were expecting soon to leave the old farm. They are buried in the Pulaski cemetery. I will now return to Cousin James McGinnis' narration. END OF DIGRESSION OR SUPPLEMENT.

Mother, Mary Harrison Crain, also had several sisters. The eldest married Hiram Gragg and is still living on Pitman Creek, Pulaski County, Kentucky. The next is Elizabeth, who also married a Gragg-Elisha Perigin (Perrijon). She was still living a few months ago. Ralph W. Crain writes: Hiram was the County Judge for a time and when visiting the Graggs at Somerset in August, 1914, his grandson Lovell, told me that some "gerrymandering" had been done so that Hiram Gragg could live on his farm and still be eligible to hold the office of Judge. I secured a fairly good copy of an old photograph of Uncle Hiram Gragg and Aunt Lucy. I do not know just when Uncle Hiram and Aunt Lucy died (note: from the Gragg Family Bible: H. Gragg died March, 1872; Lucy Gragg died Feb. 4th, 1879 - Estella Duddleson, 1968) but do know that aunt Elizabeth lived until February 1894. My father went to Kentucky in December, 1894, hoping to find her alive, but arrived too late; it seems that after Grandfather's death in 1884 there was little correspondence and Father lost track of his relatives in Kentucky. I visited the Gragg descendants at Somerset in August, 1914, and secured some good photographs of the ruins of the old Crain home, Pitman Creek, the big spring, the famous "soink hole", the burial ground, etc. (There is a section of photographs in the book.) The next, Nancy Crain, married a stone mason named Zachariah Price, and after living with him twenty-five years or more she left him to excape his ill temper and mistreatment. She died at Fort Leavenworth, kansas, in 1876. The next, Sarah Frances, married Thomas Marshall Crain (a cousin) and is still living with him somewhere in southwest Missouri now - 1877. END OF DIGRESSION BY RALPH W. CRAIN The next, Nancy, married a stone mason named Zachariah Price and after living with him 25 years or more has finally been obliged to leave him to escape his ill temper and bad useage. She died at Leavenworth, 1876. The next, Sarah Frances, married Marshall Crain and is living with him in Somerset in southwest Kentucky.

Moriah Malden Crain married (The youngest, Moriah Mara, married in 1840 a Methodist preacher named) Clinton Kelly in 1841, Methodist minister with six children. (widower with four or five children.) This man possessed a fair education and considerable literary attainments, fair talents and a great energy and industry. He had so far impaired his voice as to necessitate his relocation about the time of his marriage with my aunt and in 1847 he started with his family to make the overland trip to Oregon. He spent that winter near Independence, Missouri (at Council Bluff) and in (the Spring of) 1848 the family crossed the plains with ox teams and after suffering the most fearful privations from want of food and water and from exposure, the family reached Oregon City, Oregon, on the Willamette River, late that fall. (persecution from want of food and water and losing two children from those causes and from exposure in the fall of that year.)

The remainder of the family reached Portland on the Willamette River. At that time emigrants to Oregon received large grants of land and Kelly located his within sight of Portland where he lived from 1849 until 1875 until last Spring when he died, my aunt having died 12 (several) years before. (There are several daughters of this aunt still living in Oregon. One married to a man named Kern, another to a man named Turner. I have received letters from these cousins which are found to be very intelligent.)

After I was taken from Uncle Jack Rousseau's School I was sent to a poor mountain school kept by one Billy Dollyhyde. I must have been a rather forward lad for my age for I recollect many things that happened before I was five years old and before I was six I could ride a horse alone anywhere in the neighborhood. My father built the Court House in Somerset, and I used to ride his horse up there 5 miles away - every Saturday - alone, and then ride behind him home again.

In 1836 my father and Uncle James Crain removed with their families to Clark County, Missouri, as it may interest those coming after me to know how people traveled in this Country in those days, I will describe our outfit and journey. There were father, mother and three children in our family - frances Malden, Lucy and me. At six years of age, I was the oldest. In Uncle's (James Crain) family, there were uncle, aunt and four children and two Negro men and two Negro women. Father and uncle had in common a very large wagon drawn by three yoke of cattle. In this wagon was placed the heavy articles belonging to both families. Uncle had a wagon drawn by four horses and in this the Negro women rode an it contained the tents, with camp equipage and provisions, for the whole party for several months besides other things to fill out the load. Then father had a two horse wagon also loaded with household effects and when I rode, which was seldom, it was in this wagon. Uncle had also a large two horse carriage which he drove, and in which my mother and aunt and the small children rode. We had some half dozen head of milk cows that were driven along behind the ox wagon and this duty devolved chiefly upon me and my cousin John S. Crain (afterward Captain John S. Crain of Cretcher, Missouri) - Uncle's oldest boy, age 8, though after the first few days the cows followed the wagon readily enough and the only trouble we had with them was to prevent their stopping too long to browse and thus get behind.

My father usually rode on horseback, and went ahead to look out for the best road and of an evening to select a spot for camping. Next after him came the carriage - then the two horse wagon, then the four horse wagon and following that the great ox wagon (which they called "Noah's Ark") and then the cows with John or I bringing up the rear. Owing to the make up of our wagon train our progress would have been slow over the best of roads, but as there were no roads to speak of at that day it was tedious and difficult beyond comprehension of people who never saw anything like it. In every swayle was a slough or a mudhole and as the streams were all without bridges we were compelled to lie by often days at a time to permit the waters to subside so as to admit of our passage. Our route lay from Somerset through Bowling Green, Kentucky. Thence across the Ohio River at Shawneetown. We crossed in a flat-boat propelled with poles and as only one team could be conveyed across at a time it took all day to complete the crossing. Indeed, we were obliged to put the ox-wagon on by hand as the boat could not carry it and one yoke of the oxen. The cows swam across after the boat with the oxen in it.

Through Kentucky we were able to procure feed for our stock for though we never found it convenient to stop near a house yet we seldom failed to pass a place during the day where we could buy feed, and haul it along until night. There we usually stopped near a stream where we could water our stock and get water for cooking, and where we could get wood for fires. As soon as we stopped and the oxen were unyoked and the harnesses taken off the horses, they were all allowed to graze until dark, when they were fastened up to prevent their running off and to protect them from the wolves. As soon as we stopped all hands became busy. There were three tents to put up, and a fire to build, water to bring and cooking to be done. The tents were pitched in a row with the front to the leeward and the fire was made in front of the middle tent and was made of sticks as large as the men could carry, and was kept up all night by additions of fuel, whenever it began to burn low. This was done to keep off the wolves that were around in such numbers as to otherwise endanger the camp. As soon as we began to cook meat the wolves began to howl in the distance, and almost immediately the camp would be surrounded by them and pandemonium cannot equal the noise they made night after night. They would venture up so close that we could see their eyes shining through the darkness.

At first the stock was very much frightened by this and the horses would paw and snort, and quit their food and try to break away, but as the same thing occurred night after night, and the wolves did not come quite into camp, the horses needed to learn that was the safest place for them and they quit trying to break loose. (26)

From Shawneetown our route lay through Vandalia (Greenville) and thence through Springfield, Illinois and across the Illinois River at Beardstown, thence across the Military tract to Warsaw on the Mississippi opposite the mouth of the Des Moines River. Throughout this whole route we passed very few settlements, and often traveled for days without seeing a house. Sometimes we had to make very long drives in order to reach timber. When we could get wood and water, and except when we were in sight of timber, which was rarely, nothing was visible except the moving prairie grass and, if it was low prairie, which much of it was, millions upon millions of yellow flowers on stalks as high as a man's head.

Up to this point, the typed manuscript by Ralph W. Crain coincides with the copy Mrs. McKeehen made, as previously explained. Mrs. McKeehen's copy of the original manuscript continues:

The prairie grass was as thick as it could stand on the ground and in many places was as high as a man's head and he on horseback. As the season advanced and the grass became dry We often saw the sky lit by distant prairie fires. During the day we saw distant clouds of smoke but we were caught only once. often saw the sky lighted up at night with the reflection from distant prairie fires, and frequently in the day time we had time after we saw it coming to burn a place by the road side, large enough for all the teams to safely stand in before it reach us, which we did and thus escaped unhurt. We occasionally saw herds of deer jumping running across the prairie where the grass had been burned off where it was low, but in the great-prairies where the grass was standing we could see nothing. too high to admit of seeing anything in it.

The face of the country in Illinois has changed so greatly since that day that I can scarcely perceive any of the old features remaining. Then the prairie was totally without timber of any kind. Now it is covered with groves of trees planted by man for use or ornament. Then you could scarcely find any houses to break the even monotony of the men view, and now you can scarcely find a bit of uncultivated prairie, and the whole state is covered with people. Then the timber along the little streams consisted almost exclusively of large trees that had escaped got out of the way of the fires, and within many places an thick undergrowth of underbrush;, and along the edges of the prairie everywhere were dense thickets of hazel plum and crabapple bushes so thick and dense that is was with the utmost difficulty that a person could pass through them on foot.

These thickets died out as the population increased country became full of livestock and the original forests were all felled for fencing and building; materials and what was once then brush in the forest has in turn grown into a forest. I know places in the woods of Illinois where forty years ago a deer could be seen running for half a mile distant, and where a wagon could be driven anywhere over the brush forty years ago and where there are now heavy groves of trees timber that would make six, eight and ten fence rails to the cut. - 1877.

People used to fear that there would be no fuel wood left in that state for fuel But there is now much greater plenty of more wood in Illinois there than there was 25 or 30 years ago,. I think there will always remain an abundance for fuel, for construction of and if the people do not denude the Earth of her forests for purposes of tillage, there will always remain an ample supply, eked out as it will be after a while by the general use of stone coal for fuel in farmer's houses as well as for manufacturing purposes.

We crossed the Mississippi River at Warsaw - which then consisted of two or three houses only - all under the bluff, close to the river. We camped that night on the west bank of the River in the unbroken forest just where Clarksville now stands, and the next day so utterly destitute of roads was the country, we lost our way and did not reach St. Francisville until after dark and camped out as usual. This was in the early part of November, but it snowed that night and was very cold the next morning. We had reached our destination and in fact had reached attained the limit western circuit of the white settlements, except a few scattered settlements ones that had pushed up the Missouri River, the westernmost one into what was then called the Platte Purchase, now Clay and Platte Counties, Missouri. The first house in Kansas City was built long after that time. St. Francisville when we stopped, was then almost as large a place as it is now, and very much more important, for then there was but one more important settlement in northeast Missouri (that at Palmyra). It was an Indian trading post.

St. Francisville had two or three little stores, one blacksmith's, one shoemaker, and two tavernkeepers. There were altogether some twelve or fifteen little houses in the place, mostly built of log and one story high. A man named (Kenny) King kept a tavern in a house neatly weatherboarded with clapboards ; the other tavern keeper was Ignatius Small; another man named Francis Levering kept a store in a little frame building. The shoemaker was a bachelor named Mills. and one Francis Learning had a little framed storehouse. Col. Francis Church had a store and lived in a the only framed house with plastered walls, the only one in the place. He had moved there from St. Louis and he and his French wife were very elegant people, who were much looked up to by their neighbors. I think she was French. They had no children. There was a man named Palmer who kept a little store. Col. Church also had a store. The other tavern, kept by a man named Ignatius Small - he was an unusually large man and father used to call him "Swashus Small" The shoemaker was a bachelor named Mills. There was a schoolteacher named Davadge and his penchant for whipping procured him the name change to Savage. He was a bachelor and so was his friend and crony George Glo' Mason. There was an Apothecary's shop kept by Dr. Alexandre, He had a son named George who was very fond of hunting and he used to kill great quantities of prairie chicken. He had a very intelligent dog who used to go hunting with him, and when he had killed as many birds as the dog could carry, he would tie them upon th dog's back and send him home with them. the dog would go home as quickly as he could, often many miles. As soon as he arrived at home and was relieved of his burden, he would return to where he had left his master, take up his trail and overtake him, frequently to start home again with another load of birds. Dr. Alexander and he and a quack named Troop were the medicos of the village, though there was a very good Doctor (Waylands) living within a few miles in the countryand other whose names I do not recall.

There was quite a settlement of farmers next to the bluff below the village on the second bottom. Among them were Mr. George Haywood and his boys Frederick and William, the widow Bartlett, the Waylands and others whose names I do not remember.

It was too late in the season to build when we arrived, and father was fortunate in procuring a cabin about 12 by 14 feet square to which he built a chimney of sticks stones and in which we passed that winter, and there my brother William was born on the 24th of January, 1837, when the ground was covered with snow to the depth of three feet, a greater depth than has ever fallen in this region since.

After this snow had been on the ground some time, it became covered with a crust strong enough to bear the weight of men who wore broad soled shoes; such as everyone wore in that day and place; but the crust could not sustain the weight of deer; and their feet being so small and they broke through so that they could not travel with any speed. And the people went out into the Des Moines River bottom and killed great numbers of them and brought them into their village for food, so that we had more venison than we knew what to do with.

My Uncle Crain got a house by buying a man out who wanted to get back to the settlements further east. The next Spring 1837 my father opened a brickyard and made a quantity of brick, having cut his wood during the winter. He had several hands engaged making bricks, and I then did my first useful labor in the capacity of an off-bearer. My work was to carry the molds containing clay in the form of bricks from the molder's table to the smooth yard and lay them out there in rows to dry. As soon as I had emptied the mold I had to trot back to the table and clean and sand my mold, then pick up another that was filled and ready for me and carry it off. This was kept up each day until I often became so weary that I could scarcely carry the mold - before night came to relieve me.

The bricks we made that Summer were the first that were ever made in Clark County and, with part of them, father built a small Courthouse at Waterloo which was then the County Seat of Clark County and he built a small meeting house in St. Francisville. Also, a tall chimney to a for the first steam mill built in the county near the village on the Des Moines River, by one The mill was built near the village by a man named Campbell and that was the first Steam Mill built in that County.

The chimney was between 60 and or 70 feet high and while father was laying putting on the last round of bricks, the scaffolding on which he was standing gave way and he fell to the scaffold below him, which saved a farther fall. scaffold on which he was standing gave way and he fell to the next scaffold, which held and saved a further fall, though he would have fallen off this scaffold if he had not caught hold of one of the scaffolds below ( stanchions )and thus saved steadied himself.

Davadge and Mason worked in our brickyard and after the bricks were made Davadge taught took up school in a log schoolhouse on top of the hill above by the Village. I attended this school which was kept until the next Spring and I learned very fast, but My greatest trouble was being with Arithmetic with in which I advanced only to the "Single Rule of three." I could read about as well as volubly and about as intelligently as a parrot can talk. I could beat any of the other boys at anything like near my age in spelling, but could not memorize anything. I had no trouble with the teacher, never got whipped, and was never kept in at play time. Brother Frank could memorize any task given him and could answer almost any question in Walter Brun's Malta Brim's Geography. In fact he was an infant prodigy, but he was so mischievous that he was kept in and whipped every day. before he was six years old. Indeed he was an infantile prodigy.

He was so mischievous that he was always being kept in, and was whipped every day certain. I think Davadge over-tasked him to such an extent as to give him a distaste to mental labor for he has never advanced in learning beyond the point he reached before he was six years old. He is a shrewd, sensible man, and one of more than average intelligence, but he does not read anything, scarcely looks even at the newspapers, and cannot write a letter fit to be seen. And I attribute it all to overcrowding in his early boyhood.

We had a Sunday School of which Francis Levering Learning was the Superintendent and that was the only Sunday School I ever attended. As such, things were unknown in Kentucky where I was raised. Where we lived in St. Francisville the Sac and Fox tribes of Indians owned and occupied the country just across the Des Moines river in the Territory of Iowa. Some of them used to come over to our village almost every day. Sometimes hundreds of them in a crowd. They These Indians all wore red Macinac blankets, and with feathers and colored beads and with their paint - of which they used a profusion - feathers and colored beads, they presented a rather startling appearance, if not a gay one. Even those who had rifles also had bows and arrows. A few of them had rifles and they were very expert marksmen.

Even those who had rifles also had bows and arrows. And the skill of the little ones with those implements was always a wonder to me. something wonderful to me. They used iron arrow points and I have seen them shoot silver half-dollars out of another Indian's hand. from between the fingers of other Indians at a distance of ten paces. They were fond of athletic sports and excelled in most of them, such as running, leaping and wrestling. And they used to be delighted to have father join with them in these sports, and their respect for him was unbounded; first, because he was a superior marksman with a rifle their superior in the use of a rifle, which was, with them, the very highest human accomplishment; and secondly, because none of them could outrun, out jump nor throw him down.

That you may form an idea of my father's physical activity action, I will tell you some things I have seen him do. He wore buckskin moccasins in the summertime and I have seen him run and broadjump leap twenty feet at one leap on the smooth, hard level brickyard. I have seen him run and leap over a stick held aloft on the tips of two tall men's fingers. I have seen him, on the brickyard, leap over a team pair of large horses as they stood hitched to the wagon.

This was only a few years after the close of the Black Hawk Wars and the release of that Chief from confinement. He used to come to our place with the other Indians and I well remember how he looked. He was very old as was shown by his face being as wrinkled as any face I ever saw. At the same time, it was a very dark face and his nose was almost the shape of a hawk's beak, hence his name. His eyes were as black and as bright as those of a snake, and he was as straight and walked as fast as any of the young bucks could do. He was so deaf that one had to speak very loud to him in order to be heard.

The terror of his name was so great that his appearance made a more permanent impression on my memory that it would otherwise have done. I even remember that the first time I saw him he wore a tall stovepipe hat in imitation of the Whites. He also wore a long red blanket overcoat such as white men wore in that day and place, but he wore Indian leggins curiously fringed with buckskin and beads, and his feet were covered with moccasins. He had in his ears very large flat earrings made of silver. He had a habit common among deaf people, of throwing his head forward, opening his mouth and looking most intently at any one who might be speaking to him. He could understand and speak English tolerably well.

Although Black Hawk was the principl Chief of all the broken tribes having their home in Southeastern Iowa at that time, yet he was only nominally so. The real Chief was his nephew Keokuk, who had been in command while old Black Hawk was a prisoner during some years after the close of the War which he had waged with the Whites in the Rock River Country of Northern Illinois. This Keokuk had a young squaw for a wife, and she used to bring her papoose to our house every little while, until she frightened mother one day by insisting upon swapping her papoose for brother William who was about as black and as black-eyed as her own papoose. After that mother always shut the doors whenever she saw any Indians coming and would never allow them to come into the house again.

Father used to go over into the Indian Country and spend days at a time with them. And they got to like him. He was very fond of music and played everyday very well. He could play the flute, and the fife and he played all of his favorite songs. He sang well and had a fine voice and he used to sing and accompany himself on the dulcimer and produced the most delightful music. When he played of an evening the people used to come around the house to listen to him. He was a Methodist, and a class leader, and used to lead the singing at meetings.

At that time all the streams in that region were full of fish. We went out to Fox River one day and father jigged nearly a wagon load, some of them weighing nearly a hundred pounds each.

(inserted page, correct location uncertain)...He had a building on it and a field fenced and plowed and put a man on it to live and take care of it. The Indians could and did give him a good title to it and if it had not been squandered by the administrators of father's estate, would have made ample home for all of us.

In 1838 father had broken eighty acres of prairie which he had bought and fenced during the previous winter, about one mile from the village in a northeastern direction. That portion of the land that was plowed early enough was put in sod corn. The team was one consisting of four or five yoke of oxen and they were hitched to a plow that cut eighteen inches. The sod was so touch and unbroken that it turned over and lay flat, one furrow beside the other and as smooth almost as plank floor, which it somewhat resembled.

The corn was planted by dropping the grains in drills close to the unbroken soil every third round made by the team, so that the next round after the corn was dropped covered it and left it near the crack between the sods. Through this crack the plant came up as no weeds grew the first year on such soil, the corn needed no attention, which was convenient as the soil could not be worked until...

...battle snakes as I saw there, from one to half a dozen attack round the team. The ranch prairie grass had been burned off the previous Fall, so that in the early Spring there was nothing to hide snakes except the short green grass and we could always see them, but the grass grew higher. We could now not see them until we heard them rattle, which they always did, when the plow passed over them. The man who held the plow was in no danger from them, nor was the driver who walked in the furrows beside the team, who wore heavy and tall boots to protect his legs from the snakes. There were the yellow prairie rattlesnakes, never more than three feet in length and seldom so much. They were very venomous but less so than is the Black Timber rattlesnake.

While breaking this prairie, the plow often turned up Indian beads of shell and occasionally the teeth of Indians who had been killed and left to decay when they fell. It was evidently an Indian battlefield. The scene of deadly strife many generations ago. These relics were always found several inches beneath the surface under soil that had evidently formed since they had been fighting there.



In 1838, my father and Uncle James Crain died. Uncle took sick first with a fever. My father was breaking wild land some miles from home, and I was sent on a horse to fetch him. He sat up all night with Uncle and came home in the morning and went to bed sick, and continued to grow worse for nine days, when on Sunday evening September 9th, he died. He had been treated by the methods then in vogue, much bleeding, and heavy does of Calomel. the doctors killed him. Or, rather, the quacks did, for doctors of medicine there were none at that day and in that remote, sparsely settled frontier. My uncle died the same evening of the same disease and they were buried in the same grave in a graveyard about three hundred yards southeast of the village.



Uncle William Crain came in a few days and took mother and her four children over to Schuyler County, Illinois. Her children were myself, the eldest; Frances Malden, who now lives in Caldwell, Missouri; Lucy Ann, who died in 1852 and William Marshall, who lives in St. Louis now. sister Mary Catherine was born in Illinois a few weeks after we reached there.

Father had considerable property, both real and personal and was very little in debt. Thomas Marshall Crain, who married Aunt Sarah Crain, one of mother's sisters, was made administrator of the estate; and he so managed it that we neveer got a dollar while he feathered his own next nicely out of it.

Uncle James Crain's widow remained in Missouri about a year, when she returned to Kentucky, and in a few years married (38) old Jack Sanders and lived with him many years on a farm 5 miles southeast of Somerset on Pitman's Creek. Somewhere about 1855 he died, and a few years afterwards she came to Saline County, Missouri, to her Crain children, who were and who now are (1877) all living there. She also is quite sprightly and strong though about 75 years old.

The Crain children, my cousins, are John Samuel, who married Maria Haw and who has a large family; William Lowell, who married only two or three years ago; Moriah Frances, who married her cousin Christopher Columbus Cundiff and who has a large family; and, Lucy C., who married Chrisman Parker in 1853 and who has a large family of boys, chiefly.

At that day in Illinois, settlers were very few and far between. Quincy Adams County had only a few little houses, perhaps twenty-five. Rushvilles's was the largest in what was known as the Military tract, which comprised all that region lying between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Rushville was a hamlet. Carthage was the County Seat of Hancock County and contained fine houses. There was only one house between Carthage and Warsaw, 18 miles distant and not one between Carthage and Augusta, nothing (39) but one interminable stretch of prairie. The only road being a wagon track with a streak of grass growing in the middle nearly as big as a horse's back.

My uncle lived, and now lives, in a prairie known as Oliver's Prairie, and at that time there was a road running from Pulaski at the west end of the prairie to Koln's Mill, now Brooklyn on Crooked Creek at the eastern end of the prairie 12 miles distant and there was not in 1838 a single house on that road the whole distance. There were few houses scattered along the south side of the prairie, and a village of four or five houses at Huntsville.

There were but two schools on the whole prairie, one at Pulaski and the other at Huntsville in a liittle log hut built for the purpose. There was not a Church nearer than Rushville and that was a very small one, nor was there any other meeting house on Oliver's Prairie other than the log hut at Huntsville. So that people met for worship in the little houses of the settlers. The only mills were that of Kolne and the next nearest was at Warsaw on the Mississippi 40 miles away.

There was a little horse mill down towards Rushville for grinding corn and flour was a luxury very rarely indulged in indeed. Settlers often went weeks without even cornbread living on roasting corn in season, and when the corn began to get hard, on grated corn bread, and after that on hominy and such as had land open on potatoes. (?) The people then had no cattle to spare from their stock for beef, and very few had hogs, but some, especially venison, was very abundant and I remember to have lived during months at a time on no other kind of meat. Milk and hominy were the staple articles of diet.

Wild honey was abundant and those who had been in the country a few years had plenty of bees, and as the prairies were a grand floral sea, bees did well at that day, the more as the moth was unknown as yet.

There were then but two orchards bearing fruit on the whole of Oliver's Prairie. One was the apple orchard belonging to Old Man Oliver after whom the prairie was named. That was at Pulaski and the young trees had borne a few apples. The other was a peach orchard belonging to a man by the name of Spangler, a little southwest of Huntsville and was bearing finely even as early as 1839. Old Man Dorset had put out a fine apple orchard. So had Mr. Bill Gould and perhaps others. And Uncle Billy Crain, too, but none of them were bearing yet.

Indeed, I do not believe there were half a dozen bearing apple orchards in the whole military tract at that time. Wolves were so numerous that there were very few sheep in the country as yet and the people were much pressed for material clothing. The men got along pretty well with buckskin, and I have seen a pretty nice woman's frock made of the same material dyed blue, and trimmed with cut buckskin fringes. Buckskin hunting shirts and pants were almost universally worn by the men.

I once saw my Uncle William Crain - who is a Methodist preacher - preach at a Camp meeting held at Pulaski, Illinois, in 1839, dressed in buckskin from head to foot. There was nothing to take to market and no market to take it to if there had been ever so much. The surplus raised by the settlers found sale to the latest comers as the Country was settling up very fast. It was long after this before the people in the region of Oliver's Prairie began to take wheat and pork to market at Quincy, or to Beardstown on the Illinois River. And when years afterwards they began to do so they hauled in wagons over unbridged roads forty to fifty miles and then sold their port at $1.50 to $2.00 per hundred pounds and their wheat at from forty to fifty cents per bushel.

When we first went to Illinois after my father's death, mother and her children lived about a year in a small log cabin four miles southwest of Huntsville across the timberline near the double log cabin of an old Settler named Mendenhall. I was too small - being less than 9 years of age - to provide firewood in the very cold weather and mother used to knit socks an mittens for the Mendenhall boys, and let them pay therefore by chopping wood for her.

There was a small field near the house cleared out of the shel bark hickory forest. And around the clearing were many hickory tops from which the trunks had been chopped to make rails to fence the field. And I well remember going out one morning in the winter time when a deep snow had fallen the night before, to try to carry wood to make a fire and I shall never forget how glad I was to meet Uncle Billy Crain near the house dragging one of those tops up with a yoke of cattle, nor how rich I felt when he had dragged up tops until the cabin was surrounded by the several tops deep.

My brother Frank and I walked to school to Huntsville that winter when the snow was not too deep on the ground. We used to run most of the way home at night so as to reach home before the darkness and the wolves overtook us. There was but one house on the road. That of a man named Houts which stood about one mile and a half from Huntsville, and from there to our place two miles and more was through woods and thickets along a wolf trail. We could hear the wolves every night before reaching home, and once or twice we heard the scream of a panther. It was while we lived at this place that I received the injury to my left eye which has left me with only one eye - practically.


Brother Will was extremely delicate and subject to spells of croup for which mother's remedy was turpentine. One night he had a severe attack of the disorder, and mother, having no turpentine on hand, sent me to Mr. Murdock's to procure some. The night was very dark and I got out of the trail and immediately stumbled and fell onto a hickory stump from which the tree had been felled leaving a lot of sharp splinters sticking out. I was so unfortunate as to fall with my face on those splinters, one of which penetrated my left eye.

I screamed with the pain so that my mother heard me and went to me. The people at Mendenhall's also heard me and came, and among them they got me to the cabin and some of them got from the thicket the bark of the slippery elm and beat it into a pulp and made a poultice of it for my eye. This kept the humors from running out and healed the puncture. Though by the injury the pupil was so displaced as to leave the sight of that eye very greatly impaired. To the extent of disabling me from seeing well enough with it to read were I deprived of the other eye.

My mother's sister Sarah Frances had married her cousin Thomas Marshall Crain, and they then had two children and lived in a log cabin which stood in the edge of the brush about a mile and a quarter southwest of Huntsville. There was only a square lot fenced in and the cabin was of unhewn logs with a puncheon floor. A single door made of split board and an opening which served for a window in warm weather and when closed with a split board shutter, but it was without glass. There was a split board loft reached by a short ladder and in this loft was a bed for the repose of guests.

My mother had a bed in one corner of the cabin. She had this surrounded by a curtain which she had made by ripping up an old dress or two of hers. In this bed slept my mother and the three younger children. Under the bed was a trundle bed which was drawn out at night and in which Frank and I slept. In another corner of the cabin stood my aunt's bed in which she, her husband and two children slept. Besides this the cabin served for a kitchen and dining room and during the Fall of 1840 besides the ordinary tenants about enumerated, we had two boarders, one a young medical doctor named Mead who has since made a good home for himself in the neighborhood and the other was mother's cousin Hilyar Rousseau. They slept in the loft. Thirty years ago there was no longer a vestige of the cabin remaining.



Harrison Elected President

In the Fall of 1840 mother returned to her father's in Kentucky under the care of Hilyar Rousseau who came out in a two horse spring wagon to take her "home" - we then called Kentucky. Marshall Crain and his family made the journey with us in another wagon, as far as Louisville, Kentucky, where they left us and went to Fleming County, Kentucky, where several of Grandfather Crain's brothers lived and where there are now a great many of their descendants.

We reached grandfather's the day of Harrison's election to the Presidency of the United States and I will mention here the fact that although he was her cousin, my grandmother was very much opposed to his election. Party spirit then ran very high and grandmother and grandfather were very strong democrats who believed that the Country would go to the dogs under a Whig administration. We made the journey in the midst of the campaign and I have a very distinct recollection of the lively scenes witnessed at many of the towns in Indiana and Kentucky. Huge meetings with log cabins and barrels of hard cider in the procession and the people hurrahing like mad for "Tippecanoe and Tyler too".

I have since seen many fierce political contests but none that developed the enthusiasm and wild excitement which characterized the Hard Cider Campaign of 1840. I will have occasion to speak further on of that of 1860, which was perhaps attended with deeper feeling but not with so much demonstrative excitement.

Grandfather then lived on the Keeney Place at the Big Spring on Pitman's Creek in Pulaski County, Kentucky and had in family at home only grandmother and my Aunt Moriah who afterwards married Kelly. They had four colored servants, Aunt Rachel and her two children, Jerry, about 20 years old, and Nelly, about 25 and her child Simeon Peter, a lad of seven or so.

Grandfather's house was a four-roomed building with a pantry on one porch and a little slumber-room on the porch. There was a large kitchen, the yard near the house, and on the other side a frame smokehouse, meathouse and storeroom. The dwelling was one of the best in the Country at that time. The servants lived in houses in the orchard about 70 yards from the house. (end of existing 1876 manuscript)


The above is the end of what cousin James C. McGinnis wrote of his autobiography, and this is what his son, Quincy McGinnis, wrote my brother, Ralph W. Crain, Feb. 22, 1915, about 21 years or more after his father's death. Frank M. Crain - 1949.

Feb. 22, 1915, Dr. Charles Quincy McGinnis writes from St. Louis: " father broke off abruptly. (Note: CQ McGinnis is unaware of the manuscript written by his mother, Sophia Debenham, which continues her husband's autobiography [available here].) I will endeavor shortly to give you a few facts. Father lived quietly until the Mexican War (1846). He enlisted in Co. Shield's Kentucky Regiment and went to Vera Cruz with John s. Crain (his cousin) and Jesse Arnot of Marshall, Missouri as chums and was at the storming of Mexico City, (The "Kelly Book" editor has written in parentheses: "I see where Ralph Crain has written on margin - 'this is a mistake, I think'. FMC 1949..." In fact, this is not a mistake and an account of James Crain McGinnis Mexican War experiences is recounted at some length in the manuscript of his wife Sophia Debenham McGinnis. GDunn) and served actively through the war. He entered at seventeen years of age and was six feet four at the time. He told me of the muttered curses and clandestine knife throwing to which the Americans were subjected unless they went in large bodies. I do not know much beyond this until he came to Illinois and went to Mount Morris. (The Mount Morris period is recounted at length in the manuscript of Sophie Debenham McGinnis.) He thought at the time of following your Grandfather, Uncle Billy, into the ministry, but I never did learn what switched him off; surely not Mother, whom he met in 1856 and married March 3, 1857. Catherine Debenham, my Mother's younger sister, married his chum, James Crain, Hattie's and Willie D's father, whom you correctly record. Uncle Frank McGinnis and Father took a contract on part of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and it was recorded that their strip of track was the best built on the road. Uncle Frank married Olive Gould, daughter of Benjamin Gould; you know her better than I, possibly, and he was a conductor on the CB & O for years, and later was Sergeant at Arms in the Missouri Legislature, in the 1870's and afterwards station master at Cameron, Missouri.

My father and his two brothers, Frank and William McGinnis were in the Civil War. My father was first a Colonel of Militia - I have his commission from Governor Phelps - then he was Captain of Company I, 6th Missouri, U.S. Volunteers I. He

was also brevetted as Major and according to letters was offered Captaincy in the regular army, but declined, and while still in his uniform accepted Sergeant at Arms appointment, which enabled him to study law. He passed creditably, entered upon practice in 1869, and was put up as prosecuting attorney, was elected and served a full term. Later he filled out incomplete terms as a criminal judge and thereafter his life was connected with the Legislature of Missouri. He was a very stern, religious man, both with himself and with other men; I believe at all times he did what he thought to be right, and I can say I am proud of him. However, this temperament of inaccessible dignity prevented me as one of the youngest children from getting as well acquainted with him as I would have done had he lived longer.

Of our own generation, I will say that Robert died Feb. 21, 1899, and left Owen and Vera. She married Sol Heim; they had no children. Harold and an infant son died in 1891. Owen had two boys, Robert and James, also a baby whose name I don't know. Robert's widow lives at Warrenburg, Missouri. Harold, as you know, married Robert's widow and left Frank, a lad about fourteen years old, a fine boy. Harold is buried beside Robert in Warrensburg, Missouri. Mother is buried in the same cemetery.

Jessie McGinnis Batham, oldest child of James and Sophie McGinnis, is in Chico, California, and has living Lloyd, thirty, and he had one child, Dorothea, three. Jessie's other children are Ruth and Oscar. Ruth, twenty-two, married Glenn McClain and when last heard of, lived in Colfax, California. Oscar at this time was seventeen.

Oliver is single and is in Beally Bldg, Houston, Texas, doing a good practice, and will be thirty-seven. Your humble servant, thirty-nine, has a wife and two children, Dorothy, sixteen, Kenneth James McGinnis, nine, all in good health. Uncle Will McGinnis' children, with the exception of Clara, all living. Don't ask me about Myrtle's children, as she has had ten, I believe, but she is a Mrs. W. White at Albany, Missouri.

Lucy has Myrtle and Irene and Marvin and Clarence, respectively twenty, eighteen, sixteen, eleven - all fine kids. Her name is Mrs. Lucy Parsons, St. Louis, Missouri. Pearl married a Parsons and lives at Filer, Idaho, doing well. She has Mildred (married Horace Holmes, Twin Falls, both deceased, 1980's) seventeen, Nathan, sixteen and Roland fourteen.

Harry McGinnis is at Kansas City - has two kid boys - don't know they names; Edwin has two kids - don't know their names; Lloyd and Walter not married.

Charles has not been heard from for years; his family is with me, consisting of wife, Emma, sister to my wife: Maud, twenty-four, Ed, twenty-two, and Walter, twenty. Mary, the youngest of Uncle Will's children is a Sedalia, Missouri. Her husband's name is Harris and is in the Post Office. Aunt bettie is well, at aunt Myrtle's, Albany, Missouri.

Uncle Thomas and Aunt Polly Debenham, my Mother's brother and his wife, are both dead. Robert Debenham, their son, is in Los Angeles. Louise, the daughter, lives in St. Louis; her husband is in the grocery business. Her name is St. Clair; she has two children, Helen, nineteen and Fred, eleven.

I would have written you this long ago, but you must know the winter season is a physician's harvest time, and I just did not have time. If you should ever get this information you are gathering together in a pamphlet or a book, as the Kellys of Oregon, it goes without saying I want to be in on it to the extent of several copies, as I will value it highly.

I think aside from its value as family history, you will find the facts set down by Father as interesting from an antiquarian standpoint. I may add incidents of interest to what is written if I ever see you. I am very anxious to set up a claim to Sons of the American Revolution membership, even if I don't use it as my children may want to do so. My wife and I remember you and wife with every kind regard, and should you be in the city, come and see us. We would like to renew the friendship, or rather continue same. I will send you one of the memorial service books gotten up by the Missouri Senate, which may give you further information about Pa. he thought a great deal of your grandfather and father and mother, and, no doubt, he was much influenced for good by your grandfather. Write me when you can find time. The leaflet I have written this in, I thought would be the best way to preserve it until you could transcribe part or all of it, as you see fit. With repeated good wishes, I am your loving cousin.

Dr. C.Q. McGinnis (signed) 4257 Meremec, St. Louis, Missouri Feb. 22, 1915.

(Made four carbon copies of above - finished Aug. 2, 1949. FMC) (Copied from a blue back composition book, written with pen and ink by C. Quincy McGinnis. Also with it was a typewritten copy - by whom I do not know. FMC)(These extra copies made for Uncle Frank in November, 1949, at 1511 North Walnut St., Danville, Illinois. Signed: Dorothy Crain Hawes.)(Note from Estella Duddleson: "I have recently had correspondence with Mrs. Dorothy Crain Hawes at 571 So. University Blvd., Norman, Oklahoma) (Further from Estella Duddleson: "In the front of the notebook, describe on Page 62, handwritten by my mother, who apparently copied the following from FMC: Augusta, Illinois, July 15, 1949: Copy of autobiographical manuscript of James Crain McGinnis, written, 1876 - I am copying from a copy sent to Ralph W. Crain (my brother) in 1915, Feb. 22, by C. Quincy McGinnis (Quince). "Quince, a physician, moved from St. Louis to Huntington Park, California, where he died June 23, 1946. Quince was the son of James Crain McGinnis. James was a first cousin to my father, William H. Crain. James passed away near Herndon, Missouri, August, 1893, and was buried in the old Pulaski cemetery, two and on-half miles southeast of Augusta, Illinois. Several small children are buried there. His wife, Sophia Debenham McGinnis, died at Warrensburg, Missouri, April 13, 1910, and is buried there on the same lot with her son Oliver, who died at parsons, Kansas, May 14, 1937. (Frank Crain)" Then the autobiography follow, and coicides with the above copy. (We recall the fact that Sophia D. McGinnis visited our home during our childhood, probably about 1905. Laura Kelly and Esther Kelly Watson.









1893: (upon death of husband)

Thus far my dear husband had written of his autobiography when he became too unwell to write more, and only a few days afterward he passed away. I do not know of all the details of his early life that he so often spoke of, and of some things that I do not know I do not remember the dates. But I will do my best to continue his narrative.

William II McGinnis 1807-1837

After Mr. William McGinnis with his family located in Clark County, Missouri, he was the architect and builder of some stone buildings that I believe are still standing. He also ran a brick yard and a blacksmith shop, and was a busy and skillful man. He was very active, and as he lived in the neighborhood of the Indians of whom Black Hawk and Keokuk were Chiefs, he often vied with them in feats of agility and strength. It is said he could outrun, out jump and out shoot any of them, and in wrestling never found his match. He could jump over a pair of horses at a standing jump. He was also a good musician, playing skillfully on the violin dulcimer, and the drum and fife. These accomplishments made him very popular with the Indians, and they gave him a quarter section of land about where the city of Keokuk now stands.

Death of William II McGinnis and James Crain

At this time the family consisted of the parents and 4 children, James Crain, Francis Malden, Lucy and William Marshall. In September my husband then a boy of eight, was sent some miles off to bring home his father who was building a stone Court House, because he was wanted at the bedside of his brother-in-law James Crain, and they both returned on the same horse the boy rode. Mr. McGinnis went direct to see the sick man to whom he clung with more than ordinary friendship. Crain was near dying, and McGinnis promised to take care of his family and do what he could to make them comfortable. When he got home he told his wife he should not live long, that she should send for another man who had married a sister of hers and of Crains. When he got there this man (who was also named Crain, having married his own cousin) promised faithfully to take care of both families with their property which was considerable for those early days, and in the name of God, who he pretended to serve, to do a brother's part by them as he hoped for God's blessing. On the 9th of September word came from the other house that Crain was dead. McGinnis was too low to be told, but according as he himself had said, he died the same day as his friend and in accordance with his wish they were both buried in the same grave.

Thomas Marshall Crain:

Disposal of Clark County, Missouri Property, 1838

Move to Illinois

Then this brother-in-law deliberately set to work to despoil the two widows of their property, and sold first one piece of property, then another, and kept the proceeds of all, and when Mrs. McGinnis remonstrated with him as not acting like a Christian, he said: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon, and now I am going to serve Mammon." And after this he discontinued family prayer. He had the solitary virtue of sincerity, but I think the hypocrisy came in before when he pretended to serve God. After disposing of all the land, the stock, the rifles, the instruments and household effects, he hitched up a pair of horses to a kind of hack, the most pretentious vehicle the people had at that time (which had been set aside by the appraisers in lieu of other things for the widows portion because she wished to go to her brother in Illinois) he took the family to Illinois, and when within a few miles of Reverend William Crain's he order them all to get out and walk the rest of the way, as the horses and carriage belonged to him, and he was going to Kentucky with them. To enforce what he said and to compel obedience he drew the wagon hammer on the defenseless widow and her children. He went to Kentucky, but since he has doubtless gone to another place.

Reverend William Crain and Illinois, 1839

This was the stripped and naked manner (for the children were bare foot) in which they reached their destination, where that good man Reverend William Crain took care of them for some time and where (I think) in January the posthumous little girl was born and named Mary Catherine. This Thomas Marshall Crain also started in to despoil the other widow Mrs. James Crain of her property, but she, being of a less trusting nature and of a more active and business like character that Mrs. McGinnis, soon applied to the Courts to stop him, and she soon gathered all together and went back to Kentucky with her children, having buried a sweet girl within a few days of her husband.

1840: Return to Kentucky

John Crain of Pulaski County
Mrs. McGinnis's father John Crain of Pulaski County, Kentucky sent his daughter an invitation to bring her children and come home, which she soon did and there near the "Nobs" the children grew up. Hard work and simple fare was their lot, and no schooling for the elder boy because he was large and strong, and the only one big enough to work, at first. Here it was that his mother taught him to read, and where he read aloud by the light of a pine knot the Bible, Pilgrims Progress, Weimes Lives, U.S. History and a few others. There was a time, but I am not certain if in Missouri or Kentucky, when his younger brother had a fit with the measles or whooping cough or some infantile complaint, and he was sent off in a hurry for a Doctor at night. He stumbled over the stump of a hickory and a splinter ran into his left eye, which caused the pupil to become oblique, and he never saw with that eye after except light or dark. When he was 16 his grandfather waked up all hands one night to take in the drying apples out of the rain, but he slept like a tired boy who works like a negro and with negros, does, and he did not make or know anything of it. In the morning his grandfather gave him a whipping of which he took the cruel marks to his grave. When it was through he asked what it was for, not having said a word or offered any resistance, though he was a head taller than his grandfather. "For not getting up to help take in the apples." Then McGinnis said: "You will never whip me again Grandfather." And he went back to learn the blacksmith's trade. There he worked steadily till the heat and smoke so enflamed his remaining eye that it was feared he would go blind.

JC McGinnis enters Mexican War

When he was 17 he enlisted in the 4th Kentucky Infantry Company of Captain Lars (Lare). There were 9 cousins in this regiment. Colonel Williams was called "Cerro Gorda". He was the youngest in the regiment and one of the tallest, on which account he did a great deal of guard duty at his Colonel's tent. Over 30 years afterwards he went and called on General Williams at the Southern Hotel in St. Louis. The General called him by name and was very glad to see him. McGinnis often spoke of this pleasant interview. James C. McGinnis, the young soldier, whose picture I have with a very fierce pistol in one hand and a Bowie knife in the other, started in by taking the measles. He was carried on board the boat when they crossed the Gulf, and went to the hospital at Vera Cruz. As he has said that he could make his thumb and finger meet above his knee at this time, I don't suppose, he felt quite so warlike as when having his picture taken.

The regiment left Vera Cruz December 1st and got to Mexico City December 19th, 1847. Chronic diarrhea set in and when the regiment marched he was left as he thought to die. But 3 cousins, John L. Crain, and James Rousseau, and Lawrence Rousseau helped him, one under each arm and the other carrying the equipment of the others. Thus they brought him on for 2 days and then he could walk. He always thought that this kindly help of their saved his life. Of the soldier life he passed in this year 1848 and the things he saw I can tell but little.

He has often described the scenery as being very grand as they went on the National Road to the City of Mexico. He has spoken of the viaduct which in connection with the National Road, was a very great engineering triumph of hundreds of years ago. He always intended to take me there some days. The regiment was quartered in a monastery. The city was full of ecclesiastics of all grades, and fast days, and feast days and processions, and ringing of the bells, and bull fights, and fire works, and still the ringing of the bells through and above it all. This was the City. The soldiers were kept busy with drill, and burnishing their brasses and pipe claying their leathers until the great review when the 4th took the prize awarded to the best drilled and equipped regiment. A beautiful six hundred dollar flag presented by General Scott and now I believe in the State House in Kentucky. (30)

He learned quite a little of the patois of the country, a jumble of Spanish and English mixed up - and some Indian. He was much impressed with the beauty and length of the hair of some of the women which touched the ground and spread all around them. He learned to eat a great deal of red pepper in his food and to enjoy a good blanket. He often told of a party of soldiers going to a Mexican's house where they had seen and heard a rooster in the daytime. Finding the birds roosting right in the same room with the family, with only a curtain drawn before them, and that not for cleanliness but for concealment.

He told of how expert the Mexicans are in throwing knives so as to fatally stab soldiers from across the road and at a distance. Numbers fell victims to this expertness. The Mexican soldiers were very vicious, and keen to cut off stragglers, and orders were very strict about not straggling. When returned to Vera Cruz, McGinnis and another were very tired and climbed the sides of a gorge in which the road ran and lay down close under the leaves of one of those tropical plants whose thick pointed leaves spread close to the ground, and went to sleep. They were awakened suddenly by a sense of danger, and within a short distance of them, right on the other side of the road, was a troop of Mexican cavalry scouters looking down the road after the army that had passed hoping to cut off stragglers, hungry and thirsty for blood, and to whom two soldier boys would not have been even as a sop for Cerberus. It is needless to say they lay quite still till the last sound of the retiring hoofs died away in the distance, or that they were no longer tired, but made good time till they caught up with the rear guard who had caught sight of the scouts, and had given them up for lost.

The regiment was mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky and his Grandfather had a horse waiting there for him to ride home. They came back June 1st 1848. His Lieutenants were Gelmore and Gowan. (I got several dates and names from McGinnis's old comrad Mr. Jersey Arnott of Marshall, Saline County, Missouri, who is now 86 years old in 1893. He was very fond of McGinnis and regretted his death very much.)

Return to Illinois, 1848

McGinnis had determined to leave Kentucky on account of its being a Slave State, and he did not consider a poor white boy would have any chance to make his way there. So he persuaded his mother to take the family to Illinois, which being a free state and a new one, with a rich soil and good schools, even then seemed to offer grand inducements to a poor family. They went therefore to Hancock County, Illinois, near where the three counties of Hancock, Adams and Schuyler join, near to the village of Pulaski. There they rented land which they worked on shares. They made several moves, I believe, till they bought a house in Pulaski, Illinois.

Deaths of Mrs. McGinnis and sister Lucy, 1850-1851

There in the fall of the year (1850 or 1851) when the grapes were ripe in the woods, the daughter Lucy took sick of the flu from eating too freely of that fruit. Mrs. McGinnis had been poorly for a year or more, and being sick in bed could not give the careful nursing her daughter required. At any rate she died of the sickness only two weeks before her mother died. This was 1850 or 1851.

Frank (Francis) Malden McGinnis marries Olive Gould

The second son married when only 19 years old, the daughter of Squire Benjamin Gould. Olive Gould was but 16 when she ran away to be married to Frank McGinnis. They had three children, when I first knew them, Sarah Eliza, Mary Bell, and William. They never had any others.

Mount Morris Seminary School

I think it was in 1854 that James C. McGinnis took his brother William, and his sister Mary Catherine to Mount Morris where there was a good school. This was 200 miles north of Pulaski, Illinois. At Rock River Seminary they all went to school; also some cousins, James and William Crain, sons of Reverend William Crain. I don't know how long each of them went to school. Our William McGinnis and Catherine McGinnis prepared themselves to teach school, and James Crain McGinnis went to the study of law with Lawyer Mix of Oregon Ogle Company. My sister Kate Debenham and myself went to school at the Seminary also, and it was there that I became acquainted with a young man of the name of Henry Forris, to whom I became engaged.

Sophia and Kate Debenham meet JC McGinnis and James Crain

One day when my mother was visiting in the town with my widowed sister-in-law, they were both invited to tea at the Seminary. I being a boarder in the institution, was asked to meet them. While waiting supper the steward's wife called them both to the window, saying, "Come see our two Kentucky boys!" I also went to see, and took my first look at my future husband, and brother-in-law, for the "Kentucky boys" were James C. McGinnis and James N. Crain. I little thought then how they were to be partakers of all our after life. My mother also often spoke of that first sight of her sons-in-law. It would have been hard then, at any rate in that town or county, to have picked out two as handsome men, the one 6 foot 4 inches in his stockings, erect and well made, with soft silky brown hair, teeth even and white, and a keen blue eye that truly spoke of mental power. The other, a good 6 feet, broad, with black hair, and quite dark eyes, and a merry smile and a very contagious laugh, which was sure to set others laughing also.

These two became quite intimate with a young man who was also going to school there, he being some years younger than the others. His name was William Hamilton Gloss and his people lived within a mile or two of Mount Morris, and they used to walk about together, and sometimes went home with Gloss. As little did they think that they all three would be brothers-in-law in the future - yet so it was. One winter while attending school here McGinnis boarded at Prof. D.J. Puickney's. he chopped wood for his board, and had the use of the Professor's library which was of incalculable benefit to him. He had the advantage also of the Professor's conversation and direction in his reading. This winter he taught singing school at the West Grove schoolhouse, and often went with Hamilton Gloss to his uncle's. One Megers, who lived near the schoolhouse, for Ham taught the district School in the day (35) time.

William Debenham's, South Vale, near Adaline

Also they often went together to Mr. William Debenham's at South Vale near Adaline. Here they met and improved their acquaintance with the three young ladies, Miss Mary, Sophia and Kate Debenham. In the summer after school had closed at Mount Morris, I took the District school at West Grove, and taught very acceptably for 6 months. Then came winter and the singing school, and Ham's day school, and that Christmas Mary was married to Hamilton Gloss. Kate and McGinnis stood up with them, but I was not there for reasons best known to myself. I was staying that winter with a friend, and McGinnis came several times to see me there, and also to my mother's house at Shingle Shed as we jokingly called the little house my parents inhabited at that time.

One day when McGinnis was at mother's he said he was going to bring over a sleigh load of young people to his singing class, and wanted to come and get me also. As it was not yet decided I did not say anything to my sister-in-law about it, till I went over in the afternoon when I said he had spoken of bringing some young people. She said then they will come to supper. So in the hurry we got up a good supper in no time and here they came, six of them in a covered sleigh: Mattie Harvey and James N. Crain, Catherine McGinnis and Will Stevenson, Netti Parks and Mr. McGinnis. Still there was plenty of room for one more, and I went home with them to Professor Pinckney's . This was the first time I had seen McGinnis's sister.

On the way back to the Professor's the sleigh turned over, the horses ran off, and we walked the last two miles. This Professor had lots of fun at us all, and the boys paid nine dollars for the damage to the sleigh. No one was hurt. After my sister was married to Gloss, they went to live at his father's near Mount Morris. They gave a party, and McGinnis came and got me to go with him. Up to this time I had no idea Mr. McGinnis was trying to get to be my "regular company" and I thought he just came because he liked my folks and because he had no "best girl". It was at this birthday party at the Gloss homestead that I told Mary and Hamilton about the first deep grief of my life, the breaking of the engagement to Mr. Henry Ferris. There was insanity in his family, and when I found it out, from his own letters to me, I broke off the engagement at once.

Engagement of Sophia Debenham and James Crain McGinnis, 1855

From this time on, until McGinnis asked me to be his wife, I saw him off and on, but it was about 5 or 6 months before he ventured to ask me. Then it was some time longer before we were engaged, which was not decided till just before I went down to Hancock County to teach school in the winter. But in the meantime I took the Mud Creek school for the summer. And a very pleasant school I had there, and the people were very kind to me there.

At the West Grove School, the summer before I was asked in marriage by Mr. E. Payson Crofts, the brother of a dear friend of mine. He was a good man, but did not have any other qualities to attract me, and so that was only an episode. And one day a gentleman of the name of Underwood asked to be allowed to come and see me, but I declined; and the next morning Mr. Ferris asked me and I did accept him. At Mud Creek a Mr. Williams asked me to marry him, but I declined. Also, Mr. McGinnis, whom as I said before I did accept.

As I am on this subject I may as well say that there were also a Mr. Jones and a Mr. Ellis and another who wrote and also verbally asked me the same question. But there never was any chance for any but just the two, Ferris, and McGinnis, as I was no flirt and never encouraged any one for the silly pleasure of declining. I have only mentioned this now to show how very little popular I was, because I was so serious and steady. And my younger sister Kate, who married James N. Crain, had 26 offers of marriage. But then she was handsome, lively and witty.

Birth of Sophia Debenham, Suffolk, England,

As my life has run along until lately in a groove beside Mr. McGinnis, I will now write of my birth and connections. My father was Robert Debenham born in Suffolk England, the eldest son of Robert Debenham, also of the county of Suffolk, farmer, miller, and malster, near Bury St. Edmonds. There is a village in Suffolk called Debenham - I don't know if the village named the family or the family named the village. There is a graveyard near there where the headstones alternate Thomas and Robert Debenham for two hundred years back. Every father proudly named his first born son after his father, and there always were first born sons, it seems. My own oldest brother was about the first who was not so named. He was called Thomas - Dennis - the last after my mother's family. But he died. Then came William, Sarah, then another Thomas, Anna, Fanny, Robert, Samuel, George, Charles, Mary, Sophia, and Catherine (called Kate).

Sophia Debenham's Father's Family

Of my father's family I can but say that which I have heard, and that is that they were never rich, as we understand riches, but always respectable, honest, intelligent, middle class tradesmen, millers and farmers. His brother William was a silk mercer in London, the first Debenham of the firm still prosperous, of "Debenham, Freebody & Debenham". There are sons and Grandsons in the firm still. My next uncle was a soldier. He died childless. Then father's sisters married Messieurs Dove, Colemen-Everest, Sweeting, Bennet, Shira.

My grandfather and one daughter died about the age of 45 or 50; all the rest of his people lived to great ages, as 75, 84, in the 90s and one up to 103. My mother's people were not so long-lived. Scarcely any of them exceeded 65, my mother's age. They were of good old stock, and one of their ancestors was in the aristocracy, Sir Arthur Beutal (Boutal?). Of course, I was told this by my aunt, my mother's sister who married Mr. Commings. There were also of mother's family 4 sons and 4 daughters, all considered handsome.

Of my own family, William married Miss Kopetsky, of Polish extraction, and had 2 sons, Robert Dennis Debenham and William Debenham, both living in Iowa where their parents died some years ago. Sara died at about 30 years old, in England in the early 1850's, I think 53 years of age. Thomas married Janet Clive and after her death Mary Ann Gatesell of London, his present help mate, and mother of his 3 children. Louisa was a beautifully souled young lady who teaches kindergarten in this city. Tommy died in infancy and Robert is a nice boy of 13 years. Anna Mary Debenham came to this country and lived the last 21 years of her life with my dear husband and me. She died in 1864, in November, one year and a quarter before our father who died March 19, 1866. Frances, or Fanny, came to this country with me and Father in 1852 and went to Mobile, Alabama from New York. She had a millinery and fancy goods store and died about 1859 of yellow fever and was buried in an unknown grave. Robert married Emma Cave, and had one son Sammy who died in infancy shortly after his father died of chills, and the Doctors, in about 1854. His widow married my brother Charles in 1860 and they have 4 children, 3 sons and 1 daughter. John and Earnest are married and Mary Elizabeth is Mrs. Schoffner.

Samuel Debenham and the Union Bank of London

Brother Sam married Mary Washington in London where he still resides. His wife died leaving 4 children. Laura is single and keeps house for her father; Mary Butcher who has 3 children, Henry and Robert, called Bert. Sam is the manager of the Union Bank of London, and has been there since somewhere about 1845. He began at the bottom and has gone to the top, and is still hale and at work every day.

Debenhams in America

George was a sailor and never came back from a voyage he commenced about 1848. He was a dear boy of 19 or 20 when I saw him last, and oh how I did love him. Then came Charles, who I have mentioned as the husband of Emma and who still lives in Kansas, Clay County. Mary Gloss is a widow with 4 girls and 2 boys, Sarah, Anna, Janet and Mary called May, David and Samuel. These girls are all progressive self-supporting ladies who have University education and one is a typewriter, one is a Doctor and one is a Missionary, two are Teachers and David is a printer, and Sam is a salesman in the hardware line, and is now finishing his education.

Family of Sophia Debenham McGinnis and JC McGinnis

As I come next, I will say after marrying McGinnis we had first Emma, who died the 5th day from birth, then, inside of a year our Jessie was born. Then Robert, Tommy, who died at 11 months, Harold Frank, Ethel, who died at 10 months, Arthur, George, and Debenham, who died at the ages of 5, 3 and nearly 2 during one month from January 10th to February 9th, 1876, of scarlet fever. Then came Charles Quincy, and Clive Sidney, who are good boys, still going to school. Jessie is married and Robert is a Doctor at East Lymie, Missouri, and is married and they have 2 living children and one dead. Harold Frank graduated as a Doctor, was married, divorced and started again, and is now at Holden, Missouri and doing fairly well.

Sister Kate Debenham marries James Crain: their family

Kate Debenham married James N. Crain and their family consisted of 4 boys and 4 girls, one born after James N. was drowned in the Missouri River at Kansas City. William D. is married and has 4 or 5 children in Saline County, Missouri. Horace is an engineer, single in Oregon. Hattie Anna is married to Ed Kaglers of Carlyle, Illinois, and has 6 children. Herbert is in Iowa. Dennis is in Saline County, Missouri, all farmers, Elsie is married to Mr. Elmers. Myrtle is still single and lives with her widowed mother at Reinbeck, Iowa. Edith is married to Mr. John Eliott of Morrison, Iowa.

Manuscript resumed in December 1893: Suffolk, England
December 1893 I have spoken of my parents as being natives of Suffolk, England. They remained there after their marriage till they had 7 children born to them, and when my brother Robert was a baby they removed to Surrey, south of Middlesex, and within 17 miles of London. There we spent our childhood, instructed by a governness in the house, and afterwards at Kingston at a boarding school kept by the Misses Jarman. My father had two farms on leases, one Byherst, and afterward Barwell Court, both in the parish of Chessington. But the years when farmers got rich in England were over with at the end of the war, and notwithstanding his ability and industry my father got poorer and poorer every year, until when I was about 9 or 10 years old, and the lease of Barwell Court ran out. Then we removed to Byhurst, a very plain farm house, and when the lease was nearly out we left it, with all the trouble and anxiety and embarrassment. My father always kept up his courage even to the very last.
Debenhams Journey to America, 1850-1852
Then in 1851 my brother Thomas and my Aunt Cumming came to America. My youngest brother Charley had come in 1850, and the next fall (1851) my brother William, his wife and one son, Robert Dennis, and my sister Mary came over and spent the winter in New York, where Willy was born. The next spring my father, sister Fanny and myself came over in the sailing vessel "Richard Cobden" and we arrived in New York the latter part of March, 1852. We stopped with William's folks until the lakes ought to be open, when we started west with William, his wife, 2 boys, Aunt Cumming, father and myself. Mary and Fanny had got situations as Milliners and Dressmakers and they stayed on at New York, and Thomas and Charley had gone the autumn before to Illinois.
When we reached Lake Eire, we were detained 2 weeks on account of the ice blockade. Then we went on to Chicago, and from there to Cherry Valley by rail, in a lumber wagon to Adaline Ogle Company, Illinois. Brother Thomas met us there, at Cherry Valley, and we had some very queer feelings riding in an open farm wagon, so unlike vehicles in England. I, for one, thought everyone whom we passed must necessarily laugh at us, not knowing that they seldom saw any other conveyance at that early time. At a place called Byron, I think, we stopped all night, with a farmer who was very kind, and when my sister-in-law complained of the hardship of traveling with an infant, he told her "that was nothing, how would you like it if you had 4 babes in the cradle at once, as we had, 2 pairs of twins! And 23 in the entire family of children." We began to think America must be a healthy country, until we found out that nearly every man we saw had his second or third wife, and some even the fourth. Then we changed our opinion.
At Adaline we stayed a few days with family who had sold out to my brother Thomas. His name was Heller, and his nature was akin to his name, if ever anyone was named for his character he was. Then we went to the house they had bought, log, with 2 small rooms below and one sky chamber above reached by a ladder. They soon started an addition of 3 rooms below and 2 above, but until it was fit to live in we all lived in the log house. Soon in June I think it was Mother, Robert and Kate came along also, and then there were 14 souls in the little house. We all worked hard and lived hard but there was no grumbling, no pouting and we went about singing and cheerful, and let on we were well pleased even if we were not. Every morning and evening William and Thomas led family devotions, and if we could not go to church on Sunday on account of the weather, then we had service at home. Since I have become older, and have gone through considerable hardship, I have often shed tears thinking of what my father and mother must have suffered in those days, without any of the comforts that they were used to in England. The climate is so severe, the food so strange, and the people so inquisitive and ignorant. Oh, if I could have helped them as I was able to help them later how glad I should be now. The $75 a year that my Aunt Cumming received from the wreck of her property made her quite an heiress.
When in little over 5 years we three girls married that was a great weight off mother's heart, though we were all self-supporting. My brother Robert had sent for Miss Cave to be his wife and Mary came with her from New York. They were married by Professor Pinckney at the South Vale house. Mary was also married from there and also myself when my time came. Kate was married at the Gloss homestead and Mary gave her a wedding. Robert died, and soon after him his infant son Sammy who was buried on his fathers breast where he had so often lain when they were both living.
Deaths of Sophie's Mother and Sister Sarah, 1858-1859
These deaths following closely on the death of my sister Sarah in England which was the first break in the family circle in 35 years, quite broke my mother up. She might have lived much longer, but one night, the third of June, when the oak sprouts were 5 or 8 inches long, there came a killing frost, and the cattle broke into the feed, and father wished to drive them off, and asked Mother to stand at one corner of the house to keep them from running around and around it. She hurried out, half dressed, and took what was really her death of cold. Three weeks later she died of asthma caught that night. A better mother, a more faithful wife, a truer Christian, never lived I think. So unvaryingly good natured, kind, thoughtful, unselfish, and cheerful. In the mean time, Thomas had sent for his wife Miss Janet Clive, and sister Anna came out from England with her. So she was with Mother the last two weeks of her life and kept house for my father for a year and a half. This is about 1858 and 1859.

Early Married Life with JC McGinnis in Missouri, 1856-1859
My husband and I [Sophia Debenham and James Crain McGinnis] farmed a rented farm for about a year and a half, at any rate we raised two crops, and our little Emma, our first born, was born on that farm, called Stevensons Mills, from an old mill on the creek. Finding that we could not overcome the low prices that were disastrous for new beginners we left and went to Missouri in the fall. I said goodbye to my mother never to see her again in life, but I know surely she is waiting for me with my babies and father and now my dear husband has joined them and I feel sure they are talking of me and mine often in that upper and better country where they hunger no more, neither thirst any more, and where there is no burning sun nor bitter frost. O God, My God, how happy we shall be when we are all reunited there.
When we started to Missouri or rather Kansas, for we intended to go there, we went in a wagon. The wagon team and two colts belonged to brother Charles who drove, and we boarded him and his horses for his taking us along with our clothing and bedding, tool chest, stove & c. We went by Uncle Billy Crain's, and Brother Jim Crain persuaded us to wait until he could sell his wheat and he would go along. So when we next started we were a little company. We got to Saline County, Missouri, and stopped with Cousin John S. and Jane Crain, and James Crain and sister Kate decided to stop there for good. But we three went on to Henry County and there Brother Charles Debenham took the chills, and so did I and McGinnis concluded to stay where we were, near Grand River. He went one Sunday morning and rented a house, while Charley and I shook and shivered with the ague. He came back and hitched up and took us to the house and I think I never was so glad in all my life to be able to lie down, though only on an improvised hay bed in the corner of the floor.
We stayed here 5 months and here my Jessie was born. McGinnis boarded the house and more than paid the rent. He also rowed out pickets and clapboards for money, and made ax handles and other things besides chopping wood, in which way he more than paid for all the bacon flour, corn meal & c. that we used and we had more money when we were through the winter than when we started in on it. Then he contracted to build a big barn for Mr. Pinson and to be near the work we moved about 4 miles, and lived in a little log house near the work. There was no floor, so he put one in, and fixed everything as comfortably as he could. At first Charley boarded with us, but he got tired and went to board with Mr. Pinson. He had work for his team all the time. Then McGinnis built 5 small houses, a storehouse, a mill and several miles of fence.
Then he got sick. We had to move off this low ground because it was so malarious. So we hired a man to take us towards Lexington but we stopped before we quite got there, on account of my taking the brain fever. We stayed in a schoolhouse that belonged to a man named Trigg, a Doctor I think, where we were about a month. McGinnis was still very weak from his attack of bilious malaria, and I was very sick indeed. But we got a little better and he got work, and we went to that place as soon as I could be moved. The man's name was Ferguson, and they were by all odds the meanest family all round that I have ever come across, that is, of all people who have made some pretense to be somebody. Cruel, suspicious, liars, cheats, conceited asses, ignorant, quarrelsome, and even murderers. $40 of hard earned wages he cheated us out of and we earned it when we were hardly able to crawl. I boarded 5 men, carpenters, for them for several weeks and found the food and never got a cent for it all. Then we left and hired a house for a month, and this was the...(end of manuscript as we know it...)