Early Days of Greenbush



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Thomas Darneille was born in Middletown, Bourbon county, Kentucky, March 3, 1822. He was a son of Henzie and Elizabeth (Congleton) Darneille, who were natives of Virginia. Thomas came with his mother to Adams county, Illinois, in February, 1832, his father having died in Kentucky, August 18, 1824. After the death of his mother, which occurred in Adams county, Illinois, July 8, 1834. Mr. Darneille followed boating on the Mississippi river from Quincy, Illinois, to New Orleans, Louisiana. On one of his trips he had the pleasure of seeing Andrew Jackson while viewing the battle grounds. About the year 1844, he came to Greenbush township, Warren county, Illinois, where he was married February 9, 1847, to Mrs. Lucinda Snapp. Her maiden name was Lucinda Willard. She was born in Overton county, Tennessee, August 3, 1822, and died at Greenbush, Illinois, January 21, 1899.

To them the following-named children were born:

  • Fielding M., born November 20, 1847. Died October 21, 1848.
  • Leander, born October 6, 1849.
  • He was engaged as salesman for more than ten years in the mercantile house of Merrill Brothers at Greenbush, Illinois. His health failing him, he quit the business and, believing a trip to the mountains would be beneficial, he in company with his brother Orlando, Alfred D. Simmons, and J. C. Morris, started west on the fourteenth day of May, 1902,-destination, Frying-Pan river, Colorado. They went overland, driving a span of mules the entire trip; crossed the Mississippi river at Burlington, Iowa; reached Fairfield, May 17, and visited there with A. B. Camp and family; left there on the 19th and on the 22nd they stopped over night with George Jennings near Russell, Iowa. On the 23rd they stopped over night with George Roberts, three miles north of Chariton, Iowa. George was formerly a Warren county, Illinois, boy and his wife was a granddaughter of Col. John Butler. They crossed the Missouri river at Nebraska City and the Republican river at Concordia, Kansas; stopped at Osborn City, Kansas, June 11, 1902, and took dinner with Elder R. M. Simmons; arrived at Great Bend, Kansas, on Saturday, June 14th, where they met Frank Merrill and wife; also Frank’s sister Effie. After resting here two days, they again started on their journey, Frank going with them, the ladies returning to their homes in Illinois. The party then followed the Arkansas river and the Santa Fe railroad, arriving at Lamar, Colorado, Tuesday, June 24, where they stopped two days visiting with William A. Jack and family. They arrived at La Junta June 29th; and four miles west of there, at noon, they saw the Spanish peaks, ninety-five miles away. This was their first view of the mountains. Arriving at Pueblo, Wednesday, July 2nd; here they remained two days. They reached Cannon City, July 5th; and after visiting the penitentiary, Royal Gorge, etc., then fell in with a party of eighteen persons, with whom they traveled for several days. On July 11th, they came to Salida, on the Arkansas river, where they were highly pleased with the beauty and attraction of the city. After leaving Salida, they passed several mines and camps, arriving at the summit of the “continental divide." on Sunday, July 13th, where the altitude is 13,000 feet, known as Monarch pass. Snowdrifts above and below. After traveling that afternoon they reached the valley at sunset and camped for the night on a beautiful little stream. On July 14th, they came to the little town of Sargent, where considerable excitement prevailed, as a train had been held up and the passengers robbed; the express car had been blown up. This occurred on the D. & R. G. railroad, about four miles from Sargent on the Marshall pass. Here the party was engaged in hunting and fishing until they went to Gunnison City. Arriving there on the 17th, where on the 18th of July it snowed and hailed, the party engaged in a game of snow-ball; but before night the sun shown bright and the bow of love and peace appeared in the heavens. On Saturday, July 19th, A. R. Dickson and family left the party, going farther west. This family had been with the party for about three weeks and had become strongly attached by friendship and kindness. The parting was rather affecting.

    After leaving Gunnison City, the party went twenty miles north on Spring creek, where they engaged in hunting and fishing for a week. It was here that Frank Merrill killed the first grouse. Then they drove west across a range of mountains and stopped on Cement creek near Crested Butte, where they did a little fishing and hunting. Here they also prospected for gold. They went to " Jack’s Cabin,’’ and took a lunch there. This cabin was built by Jack many years ago, it being the first cabin in the valley. The cabin shows age and shrinkage. Here in this nice valley of East river is one store, a school-house and several ranches. The D. & R. G. railroad runs through this valley. Here the party bought provisions and feed for their mules.

    On August 4th, they started on their trip homeward. Following up Taylor river, they reached Union Park, where thirty men were engaged in a sluiceway, on which they had expended fifty thousand dollars, for placer mining. From there they followed Taylor river up to Taylor Park; then to a mining town, on the side of the mountain called Tin Cup. After visiting the town a few hours, they drove four miles up the mountain to Black lake, where they camped for the night. This lake contained about eighty acres and was full of fine fish. Here the nights were so cold that water was frozen in the pails, and this in the month of August. At nine o’clock in the morning, they were on top of Alpine pass above timber line, altitude 13,500 feet; wind blowing cold, sun shining bright, with St. Elmo seven miles below, where they arrived at noon. After viewing the fine scenery en route, they camped within three miles of some hot springs, on Chalk creek, where a fine hotel had been built but not entirely finished; $50,000 had been expended in its erection, the company breaking up without ever opening the building. After passing the hotel a short distance, they saw a large mountain lion crossing the road. Cal. Morris and a Mr. Miller, who were then with the party, followed the lion up the mountain but failed to get a shot. After losing trail of him, they returned to the wagon. The natives said from the description he must have been nine feet long. About five miles northwest of this hotel the X-ray mines are located in the gold belt. John S. Rea, now in the grocery trade at Avon, Illinois, is a large shareholder in this mine.

    Their next camping-place was Buena Vista, a nice little city located on the Arkansas river, at the foot of a mountain, in a mining district. While here they visited the smelter; then started for Cripple Creek, traveled all day and until nine o’clock at night, failed to find any water, and were compelled to go into camp without it. At daybreak the next morning, Lee, Dick, and Land started out to find water. After going about two miles, they arrived at a cabin owned by N. B. Daniels, an old miner. Here they found plenty of water. They also found that they were off the main route and were about sixty-five miles west of Pike’s Peak. They camped for the day with Mr. Daniels, visiting his mines. Here Lee went down in one of the mines and helped put in a blast. This mine is known as “The Last Chance.” Here Frank killed a prairie-dog and brought him into camp, and the ‘‘Big 5’’ voted him the best hunter. The party camped at a deserted town called Badger. This town had twenty-one empty buildings and was located in a valley surrounded by mountains. Here the party separated, out viewing the town and the mines; and here they met Elder Smith Ketchum, a Predestinarian Baptist preacher, who was pastor of the New Hope church at Greenbush, Illinois. He was traveling with his two sons. One of them, having poor health, was trying the mountain air. This was a pleasant meeting, which all enjoyed. On the fifteenth day of August, they passed through Box canon, viewing the beautiful scenery in the canon and meeting many picnic parties. They went into camp at 5 o’clock that evening in Cripple Creek, where they remained about six days, viewing the mines-including the Independence and Portland. After leaving Cripple Creek, they took the Cheyenne canon wagon road for Colorado Springs, passing in sight of the city of Altman, the highest incorporated city in the world, camping at night at a summer resort called Rosemont; then crossed the Pike’s Peak range, following Cheyenne canon, coming out on the high mountain south of Colorado Springs, where they had a fine view of the plains. They also saw a big storm, attended with lightning, hail and rain, below them on the mountain-side. They then drove through Colorado Springs to Colorado City, where they camped and remained until the first of September. They visited the Garden of the Gods; had their photographs taken under Balance Rock; saw Glenerie, General Palmer’s residence; met Giles Crissey at his office in the lumber yard, and visited, the family of John R. Snapp, who were then at Colorado Springs.

    On August 31, 0. Darneille and Mrs. J. R. Snapp and child started for home by railway. On September the first, the party decided to go up to the top of Pike’s Peak. Lee Darneille, J. C. Morris, Alfred D. Simmons, and Earl Snapp started about seven o’clock in the morning, all afoot reaching the half-way place about noon. Lee concluded to return, which he did, arriving in camp at two o’clock that afternoon. Earl being the youngest in the party, reached the summit at 2:30, and returning reached his residence at 7:30 that evening. Alfred reached the summit at 3:30, and arrived back at 9 :30 that night. J. C. Morris, being the oldest of the party, reached the summit at dark and returned September 2nd, at 9 :30 in the evening. While he was up on the peak, he paid three dollars for supper, lodging and breakfast, and was called at 3:30 to see the sunrise.

    On the third day of September, they started for Denver, passing Monument, Palmer Lake, Sedalia, and Littleton. The scenery on this route is noted for its grandeur and beauty. On the evening of September the fifth, they arrived at the residence of John K. Walker, near Littleton, and about ten miles southeast of Denver. Here they met with a kind and joyful reception; they had all been well acquainted in their younger days when John had lived in and about Greenbush, Illinois. The party stayed two nights with John, and they talked about old times and bygone days. They left Walker’s on the 7th and arrived in Denver the same day, where they camped until the 20th. Here they visited William McMahill, Mrs. Mary Buzan, Homer Pond and wife, Wm. Baumgartner, George Hamilton, and a daughter of Sarah Walker. After selling their mules and wagon, they returned home by railroad.

  • Orlando, son of Thomas and Lucinda Darneille, was born April 15,
  • 1852. He was township collector in Greenbush township for nine years; supervisor one term; assessor four years; and notary public for seventeen years, which office he now holds. He has also been engaged for several years as administrator and executor in the settlement of estates. He was married in Springfield, Illinois, October 3, 1905, to Mrs. Margaret Ellen Smith. She was born February 4, 1861, and was a daughter of William B. and Rebecca (Morris) Park.

  • George, born February 13, 1857; died February 6, 1862.
  • Mary Elizabeth, born January 1, 1860; died December 4, 1863.
  • Shortly after Thomas Darneille was married, he moved to Middletown, McDonough county, Illinois, where he was engaged in the business of blacksmithing with his brother Henzie, About the year 1850, he moved back to Greenbush and purchased lots one and two in block nine, where he built a small frame house. The most of his last years were spent in Greenbush working at the blacksmith trade. In religion he was a member of the Christian church. In politics he was a republican. He died May 24, 1870.

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