Early Days of Greenbush: Elijah Frampton, Senior



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Elijah Frampton was born near Lewiston, Pa., April 20, 1786. He was married October 20, 1822, to Rebecca Clark; and again to Lucinda Trowbridge, May 28, 1828-both at Burlington, Ohio. He died at Avon, Illinois, January 23, 1877.

To the first union were born five children-four of whom died in fancy-viz.: Isaac Clark, William Walker, and three sisters (triplets). Isaac C. and sisters died in infancy.

To the second union were born four children, namely: Elijah, John Martin, Rachel Jane, and Isabelle Rogers. Rachel died October 26, 1836, at the age of four years.

Mr. Frampton, like most boys of his time, was sent to school only three months each year. School books were scarce, one set usually doing duty for the whole family. He made a specialty of mathematics, with a view to taking up surveying. Shortly after he had mastered the business, his father died; and he, being the oldest boy, was suddenly brought face to face with the problem of bread and butter for the family, which was a large one. He soon discovered that while surveying gave him a prominent place in the community, there was not enough in it to enable him to support the large family. And so he gave it up and turned his attention to boating on the Ohio River. At that time river transportation was almost wholly done by flat-boats and keel-boats. These boats would be loaded at Pittsburgh and floated down the river as far as necessary, and then pulled, ‘‘cordelled,” by means of a rope, and pushing with long pike poles, back to the starting place. This sort of life was full enough of incident and adventure to make it quite spicy, and was besides a cash-down business. Settlements on the river were few and far between. To add to its picturesqueness, game was plentiful and bands of robbers infested the country. Mr. Frampton followed this business for several years, making many trips down and up the river, sometimes going out on to the Mississippi river. When his load was disposed of, he would ''cordell” back to Pittsburgh with his boat. He chanced to be in Pittsburgh with his boat when the government pressed him and his boat into the service to carry a lot of sail, rigging, etc., to Lake Erie for Commodore Perry’s fleet. For this service the government forgot to pay him. But it is probable that he, like Barkis, ‘‘was willin’ “ and never asked for any pay. At one time he and his younger brother loaded their boat with provisions at Pittsburgh and took it out on to the Mississippi river, down to Memphis, Tenn., where they sold boat and cargo, receiving their pay all in silver coin. There was no bank at Memphis amid no steamboats on the river. So they had to return with their money overland. For this purpose they bought a stout horse and a pair of saddlebags. Placing the money into the bags, they put them across the back of the horse and started homeward, taking turns at riding and walking. Considering the condition of the country sparse settlements, crude roads, and robbers, this was a perilous undertaking. They made the trip, however, without serious mishap. As before stated, his boating life was sufficiently exciting and full of incident to satisfy most any one. Mike Fink, the noted outlaw and river pirate, gave the boatman no end of trouble. Fink was almost a dead shot with his rifle. A boy whom he kept with him as a cook, he used to make stand off thirty to fifty paces, while Fink, a la William Tell, would shoot a tin cup off the boy’s head. Mr. Frampton once had the honor of being a target for Fink’s rifle. He heard the bullet whiz by, but fortunately it did not hit him. It was supposed Fink fired the shot just to see what he could do. In making these trips down and up the river, it so happened that at the time of the earthquake at New Madrid, Mo., his boat was floating down the river in front of the town; of a sudden they heard a deep rumbling sound; when, as if by magic, the river was in a great commotion, rolling and tumbling, seething and boiling like mad. It came like a flash out of a clear sky, and greatly alarmed the men on the boat, but they managed to steer clear of all the eddying whirlpools and escape injury.

About the year 1818, Mr. Frampton moved his mother and family to Burlington, Ohio, a small town on the Ohio river, between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pa. His boating life was suddenly brought to an end by an incident which took place while he was at home off duty. A camp-meeting was in progress near by, and he concluded to attend. While there he was converted; and, believing he was called to preach the Gospel, he sold his boating interests, united with the Methodist, church, joined the Cincinnati conference, and was assigned to a circuit. This conference embraced all of southern Ohio and a part of Kentucky; and as there was a scarcity of preachers, the circuit had to be made very large. That made the work of the preacher very laborious and exacting. The country being new, there were scarcely any laid-out roads, often nothing but a trail or path to guide the traveler on his way; and there were almost no bridges-streams had to be forded or swam, as the case might be. The preacher considered it his bounden duty to fill every appointment on time, no matter what happened; nothing but the impossible should prevent it. In the broiling hot sun; in the drenching rain; in the pelting hail and sleet; in the driving, blinding snow; over the glaring ice; through mud and water; by day and by night; astride his trusty horse, with his saddle-bags stuffed full of clean linen, Bible, hymn-book and lunch-thrown across the saddle, he must make his way from place to place, over his circuit-a never-ceasing treadmill of duty to meet his appointments~preaching in the little log schoolhouse, sometimes in barns and sometimes in the open. He must be the minister and the chorister-often the whole choir-and often his own janitor. He must administer comfort to the afflicted, consolation to the dying, and sometimes a flogging to the insolent; instant in season and out of season, a sort of half-way station between hope and fruition, a ministering angel, as it were, beckoning our thoughts away from the realities of this hard, inexorabic life, so full of bickerings and heart-breaks, to that life of perennial beauty and happiness, which we count upon in our reckoning of the great hereafter. Notwithstanding the fact that he was physically a powerful man, inured to the hardships of frontier life, yet the exacting life of an itinerant preacher was too much for him; and although much against his will, he was forced to resign. He then bought a farm and moved on to it. While here he was chosen and served a term as judge of the court for Lawrence county, Ohio; but office-holding did not suit him, and he went back on his farm.

In 1842, he became restless of a farmer’s life, and again betook himself to boating. He purchased a large fiat-boat, loaded it with tan bark, took it to Cincinnati and sold all. He then returned, sold his farm and bought a very large keel-boat, which he loaded with provisions, took his family on board and floated off down the Ohio, into the Mississippi river, down through bayou Atchafalia, in Grand Lake, in Louisiana. The next year he made another trip to the south, selling out his boat and provisions. He then went to New Orleans, bought a stock of dry goods, and took passage on a steamer for Quincy, Illinois, where he arrived some time in April, 1845. In May, 1854, he sold his stock of goods and moved to Greenbush, Illinois, where he lived until the fall of 1863, when he moved to Avon, Illinois, where he died, as before stated, January 23, 1877.

John Frampton, the father of the subject of this sketch, was a soldier in the War of the Revolution, belonging to the Cumberland county Rangers, and was with Washington when his army crossed the Delaware river on the floating ice, December 25, 1776.

Lucinda (Trowbridge) Frampton was born near Marietta, Ohio, April 8, 1811; married Elijah Frampton at Burlington, Ohio, May 28, 1828; died at Avon, Illinois, March 15, 1895.

In her youth she was possessed of more than ordinary beauty. She was of very cheerful disposition, always looking on the bright side of life. To the day of her death she had the faculty of attracting to herself the society of young people, which she greatly enjoyed. She was everybody’s friend-bore no malice.

William Walker Frampton, born at Burlington, Ohio, December 5, 1824; married Mary Anderson, in 1849; and again, Mary Miller, in 1852-both at Quincy, Illinois; again married (name not known), in 1867; and again, Ella Eckman-both of the latter at DeSoto, Kansas.

William was a stationary engineer and surveyor by profession. He learned the trade of engineer on a steamboat, on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. In 1852, he came from near Blandinsvilie, Illinois. to Greenbush, Illinois, to take charge of a sawmill and corn-cracker owned by Ragon and Mather. In 1856, he and his brother Elijah bought the mill and put in two sets of burs for grinding wheat. On September 1, 1858, the mill burned down. At this time it belonged to Dr. Bailey Ragon, the Framptons having sold out to him in the spring of the year, William going to Blandinsville, Illinois, and Elijah to Kansas. William moved to DeSoto, Kansas, in 1859, where he now resides. He served as private in the Seventh Kansas infantry, in the War of the Rebellion, being mustered out in 1865. By his second wife William had three children: Charles, Amenia, and an infant, which died in infancy, at Blandinsville, Illinois.

Elijah Frampton, Jr., born at Burlington, Ohio, May 20, 1829; married Sarah Walker Hanon, at Greenbush, Ill., November 1, 1855. To them were born three children: Ida Cornelia, November 7, 1856; Edward Trowbridge, March 12, 1860; and Netty Hanon, March 17, 1862. Ida C. died in Kansas, May 16, 1860; and Netty H. in Greenbush, July 27, 1864. On July 27, 1864, his wife also died at Greenbush, where she was buried. Elijah learned the trade of miller at Canton, Mo. He then secured a place in one of the Quincy mills. In 1852, he came to Greenbush and look charge of the corn-crackers. In 1856, he and William bought the mill and put in a flour-mill, which they ran until the spring of 1858, when he sold out and moved to Kansas, along with Elijah Hanon, his wife’s father, and Samuel M. Snapp, his brother-in-law. In the spring of 1860, they returned to Greenbush, having been driven out of Kansas by the terrible drought and the grasshopper scourge. In 1864, after the death of his wife, he went to Avon, Ill., where he now resides. His son Edward married a lady in Kansas, where he still resides. Elijah learned the trade of wagon-maker under Porter J. Jack, at Greenbush, in 1864, and he continued to work at his trade in Avon and Bushnell. At the latter place he was associated with Henzie Darneille in the wagon-making business.

Isabelle Rogers Frampton was born August 26, 1846; married John B. Compton in 1867; came to Greenbush, in 1854, and to Avon, in 1863, where she was married. From Avon they went to Bement, Illinois, where Compton secured a place with the Wabash railroad. He was killed by the cars in 1892. Mrs. Compton is now living in Chicago with her five children.

John Martin Frampton was born at Burlington, Ohio, October 22. 1830; married at Pittsfield, Illinois, to Miss Amatha Whittaker, December 25, 1872; moved to Quincy, Illinois, from Ohio, May 6, 1845; moved to Greenbush, Illinois, in December, 1856; moved to Avon, Ill., in the fall of 1863; worked on a farm owned by Isaac N. Morris, during the spring and summer of 1848, for eight dollars a month; worked on steamboat as pantryman and second steward during the year 1849; taught school in the summer of 1851, at Muddy Lane, in McDonough county, at eighteen dollars a month and boarded himself; clerked in a store at Louisiana, Mo., in the fall of 1851 (pay nominal); worked in The Whig newspaper office at Quincy, Illinois, 1852 to 1855-pay, sixteen dollars a month and was shipping clerk for a large foundry in St. Louis, Mo., from July, 1855, to October, 1856-pay, forty dollars a month. In December, 1856, went to work for Ragon and Frampton as bookkeeper and superintendent of the grist department of the mill, at twenty-five dollars a month, at Greenbush, Illinois. September 1, 1858, the mill was burned. He returned to Quincy, Illinois, in the spring of 1859, and kept the books in the Star Mills until November, 1860, when the mills were shut down-salary, twenty-five dollars per month. May, 1861, returned to Greenbush; took a place as clerk and bookkeeper with F. H. Merrill & Co., at twelve dollars a month and board; went to Avon with Mr. Merrill, in the fail of 1863; continued to clerk for him until the spring of 1865, when he had to give up the place on account of a long spell of sickness. April 15, 1867, he was appointed clerk in the U. S. internal revenue service by Gen. L. F. Ross, collector of the ninth district, Illinois. From that date until July 1, 1886, he was continuously in government service as clerk and deputy-collector, at a salary from nine to eighteen hundred dollars, serving under five different collectors. John M. Frampton moved to Pittsfield, Illinois, in July, 1892, where he now resides. To John M. Frampton and wife were born two sons:

Mendal Garbatt, born November 21, 1874; married to Miss Marian D. Kirby, at Jacksonville, Ill., September 10, 1903; John Ross, born July 10, 1879. Mendal was graduated from Illinois College, Jacksonville, in 1898, with the degree of A. B.; and was post-graduate, in 1899, with the degree of A. M.; and was postgraduate at Harvard University, with the degree of A. M., in 1900. He is now a teacher of English in Pomona College, Claremont, California.

John Ross graduated at Oberlin, Ohio, in 1901, as A. B.; and graduated from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, in 1904. He is now a teacher in Iowa College Conservatory of Music, at Grinnell, Iowa.

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