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(note: This book excerpt discusses Indians in ways now known to be improper.)
History of Will County Illinois
by August Maue
Historical Publishing Company
Another First White Child.--The following account of the first white child born in Will County is contributed by Miss Helen Hutchison. It is given in its entirety even though it repeats some things given elsewhere:
The Linebarger family is one of the oldest in the history of Will County and Jackson Township. John Linebarger and his wife originally came from Holland, and were of German descent. In Holland their name was Von Linebarger, but upon arriving in the United States they dropped the Von. The Linebargers settled in North Carolina, and lived there for a number of years. It was here that all of John Linebarger's children were born; then as the East became more thickly settled they began to move westward.
They first moved to White River, Indiana, and lived there until the fall of 1821, when they settled in Parke County, Indiana.
Because of the size of their family they formed a little colony. They had a church and cemetery, which is still known as the Linebarger church and cemetery. It was here that John Linebarger and his wife died and were buried in this quiet little cemetery. It was here also that three of the sons were married, George, John, and Henry. Henry, who was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina, on December 24, 1807, married Nancy Hougham in 1829. She was born on January 1, 1811 in Ohio.
In the fall of 1832 all four sons came to Illinois and took up land from the Government at a dollar and a quarter an acre. This land was in what was then known as Cook County but now known as Will County. Henry and George took up land not far apart in Jackson Township. Lewis settled near Wilmington, but only stayed a few years, and then went to Oregon, John did not take up land at this time but returned to Indiana on account of the scare which came during the Black Hawk War. None of our people were disturbed by the Indians but the panic caused many to leave. The next year they returned to find that the natives had cared for their stock in their absence. He returned in 1850 and settled near Wilmington. After taking up the land they built their homes. It was a long hard task building a home in those days, when one had to chop down the trees to secure the material for his home, then plane them, make his own pegs, and build his own house with only the help of neighbors. Their home was made from the logs of the trees which they cut down when clearing their land. The cabin was put together with wooden pegs which had been made by hand. No shingles were used; but they put the planed logs together and then put straw on top of them to make the house warm. Clay was put in between the logs to keep out the wind, rain and snow. Even after one had his house built he was not through for he still had the furniture to make unless they were fortunate enough to have some left from their former life. Their tables were logs planed off on one side and holes bored in the bottom and legs stuck in. Their chairs were made in the same way but they were just stools and had no backs to them. Babies' cradles were made by hollowing out a log and leaving the rounded sides so that they would rock. After the cabins were built they began the long hard journey back to Indiana for their families, household goods, and stock. The trip to Illinois was a long one; for it was very difficult to travel very fast when driving a herd of cattle, sheep, pigs and horses and when the wagons were drawn by oxen. When they arrived at their new home in March of 1833 the Indians were making maple sugar in the woods north of their cabin; for the forest around in this locality was full of maple trees. The Indians were using dishes made out of hollowed logs for their sugar. These Indians were of a friendly Pottawattamie tribe. The first few months of their stay in Illinois were busy months. The wives had to get settled in their new homes, make sugar and feed their hungry families. Mrs. Henry Linebarger had her two daughters, Mary and Sara to help her; for they did not have to go to school for the good reason there was none to go to. Their mother taught them all she knew by the light of the fireplace at night, after all the work was done for the day. Henry was not so fortunate for he had no sons to help him; but his brothers "changed work with him" as they called it in those days. He had his barns and sheds to make to shelter his stock from the weather, to clear the land and have it ready for cultivation in the spring and all of this kept him very busy.
A few months after their arrival, Andrew Jackson Linebarger was born on January 7, 1834. He was named for President Andrew Jackson, the same as were the township and the little creek that runs through it. Often when the Indians would come to visit his parents they would rock him as he lay in his log cradle. His mother washed at the little spring where they watered their stock which was a short distance from the cabin; but she always was afraid to leave the children in the house alone, because she feared an Indian attack, so she usually took them with her; but one day for some reason she left them alone and when she returned the children were gone. She was terrified and rushed to find her husband. He told her that while she was gone from the house he had returned and taken the youngsters with him out to the field where he was working. The Indians came to the Linebargers very often for food and it was never refused them, because the white settlers did not want to do anything to the Indians that might cause a quarrel. One day a red man came to the door and asked for something to eat. Mrs. Linebarger told him she had nothing for him which was the truth; but she told him she was baking bread. He seemed to doubt is so she opened here oven door and showed him; for she was afraid he might be angry because she didn't give him anything to eat. This convinced him and he grunted and walked off. The Indians often came to trade. They would take little pieces of bright cloth or beads for something that was really valuable. After the trade was made they would go off pleased, thinking they had received the best of the deal. One day when Mrs. Linebarger was alone in the house and Jackson was sleeping in his little cradle, a short, stout, ugly looking Indian came to the door, where she was spinning and asked for something to eat. She was afraid of such an ugly Indian and she did not care about having much to do with him or even give him any bread; but her better judgment overruled and she hot him a piece of bread, butter and jam. He sat down on the door step, near where she was spinning, without saying a word. Nancy kept on spinning although she was very much frightened; for she did not know what would happen when he had finished eating. Finally he was through, then she saw a scalping knife being slid slowly and silently along the floor toward here. She sat there breathless thinking every moment would be her last. The knife came nearer and nearer, then it was raised up on the spinning wheel and slid over right under her hand. When she looked at it again it was being slowly with-drawn and when she looked where it had been she found, much to her surprise, a fifty cent piece laying there, which he had slid over to her in this way. Then Indian fashion he grunted and went away. It was afterwards thought that this was Shabbona, chief of a tribe of Pottawatamies. In 1832, the settlers of this locality had an Indian scare. They had heard that the Indians near Ottawa were on the war path and that they were coming in their direction. Previously, the whites and red men had been on the best of terms; and especially in this region there seemed to be no jealousies existing between the two races. Land and game were plentiful and there were few white settlers so that the Indians did not feel as though they were being encroached upon. Then, as people began to come in more rapidly Black Hawk and his followers had become restless and jealous of the white people. These jealousies finally broke out in a conflict. In May of 1832, several families were massacred near Ottawa. This of course aroused the people living in the outlying districts. The people of Will County and the surrounding territory knew they were not able to repel an attack so thought it best to go to Indiana to a fort on the Wabash. Then the following night about twenty wagons and teams were gathered at Five Mile Grove ready to start. Then when they were about ready to start they were joined by some parties who said that the Indians were approaching. There was a great confusion and a hurried departure. The settlers had intended to take their cattle and household goods but they were in such a hurry to get away that they left them behind. Their route lead through Manhattan, Wilton, and Rockville Townships and crossing the Kankakee River at one of its fords. After they had gone a distance and were not pursued, Henry Linebarger and another man determined to return on horseback and bring as much of the stock as they could find. When they got back they found that all the stock had wandered off, but Henry remembered a sack of maple sugar he had with his household goods, for they used maple sugar all the time in those days, so he got it an threw it across the back of this horse. After they had gone a short distance on their way back to join their companions they saw in the distance two Indians following them rapidly. They very naturally thought that these were scouts of the main party of Indians. So they spurred their horses but nevertheless, the Indians gained on them. The bag of sugar was quite a burden, so they threw it off. Then the riders were soon out of sight of the Indians. Indians are notoriously fond of sugar and this was a great prize for them so they stopped to eat some before they again took up the pursuit. As soon as the main branch of fleeing settlers heard of the approach of the enemy, they rushed on faster than ever. A few days later they found that the last scare was only some friendly Pottawattamies. So they halted to eat and sleep but they had no more prepared for rest than some scouts came rushing in saying that the Indians were after them in earnest. They packed up speedily and hurried on. In a few days they reached Danville and learned that troops had been sent to quell the Indian uprising. Black Hawk was soon driven out of the country and there was no more danger, so they returned to their homes and found most of the stock unmolested. When Henry returned to his home he could not find his stock; but a friendly Indian came and told him hat he had hid them for him and if he would go with him would find them. Henry also received part of the bag of sugar he dropped; for it was found afterwards that those Indians were merely friendly Indians trying to tell them that there was no danger whatever. After this incident Henry Linebarger was know as Runabarger to the Indians. One day when Jackson was about seven years old his father, his two brothers and he got up early in the morning, did the work and started for Joliet; for there was much that Mr. Linebarger wanted to do in town. The boys of course were very much excited over the prospects of going once or twice a year. when they arrived they drove down the main street which was Bluff Street and their father hitched the horses in front of a grocery store, and left them sitting there while he went about his work. While they were sitting there a kind man came along an gave them a penny. After a time Jackson who was the older became brave enough to go into the store an buy some raisins. He got his raisins and the good store keeper gave him back his penny. The boys ate the raisins greedily and soon they were gone. Then Jonatahan the next older took the penny and went into the store and had the same results as Jackson. When these raisins were gone Lewis went in an gave the store keeper his penny and got the raisins but not his penny back this time. He did not know that he should not get it back, so when he had gone out he cried as though his heart would break because his penny was not returned.
From the very first, the inhabitants of Jackson township have manifested more than an ordinary interest in those two reforming and elevating influences--religion and education. In about 1838 a log school house was build about half way between the site of the present school and the Tehle home. It was here that Jackson was taught to read, write and do arithmetic. School was not held very regularly because of the lack of teachers. Mr. Spoors of Stars Grove was the teacher for a while. For a time after their arrival in Illinois the settlers held their church services in their homes but as soon as possible they build churches. Before they build them, church was sometimes held in the school house. The first church established was the Methodist Church. For a while the Linebargers attended this but when the Baptist church was established they went there because before coming here they had gone to the Baptist Church. Transportation conditions were not the best in those days. When they wanted to go to Chicago, which was a mere village when they went with oxen and would wind their way among sloughs and over wild open prairies. When making this trip one allowed three days for it. They would get a very early start the first morning and by hard traveling make a tavern that was quite a distance outside of Chicago, they would stay there over night, get an early start the next morning and by steady traveling be able to go to Chicago, do their trading and return to the tavern by night. The next day they would return home. One year Henry Linebarger raised a load of fine watermelons, for they grow very well on sod. He took this load of watermelons by ox team to Chicago to sell and they were such a treat to the Indians who were gathered there to make a treaty that they bought them all and the money that he received he returned to them in payment for eighty acres of land. For a short time they had to go to Indiana to have their meal ground but is was not long before there was a mill in Joliet. The Pioneers of 1832 were not helpless men but did practically all their own work. They shod their own horses, made their own tools, pails, barrels, shingles and many other things. The people of Jackson Township were all Democrats for the election of 1832 every vote cast was for Andrew Jackson. In 1836, Henry died.
In 1856, when Jackson was twenty-two years old he married Elizabeth Phillips. She was born in Germany, January 1, 1834. The same year he began farming on his own three hundred and twenty acres of land which was in section twenty, just a short distance west of his old home. He was a very good farmer and had one of the best farms in the township. He never allowed his buildings to run down but kept then painted and in good repair and he was always know as a very good business man. Even though the farm took up much of his time, he was till a prominent man in public affairs. He was one f the wealthiest men in the township, They had three children, Lewis Henry, Laura and Emma. Lewis died in 1894, Laura, who married Elvis Noel lives in Joliet and Emma who married Mr. McCleary lives in Berkley, Calif. Jackson, the first white child born in Jackson Township died on March 2, 1915, and is buried in the Brown cemetery not far form his old home.
He was one fo the men who helped establish the Grange. They had their first meeting in the town hall May 10, 1890. Mr. Linebarger was elected treasurer. Then in 1893, they built their own hall. As a member of the Grange he aided and encourage the work of the organization which was to buy implements, twine, coal, flour, salt, potatoes, brooms and such things at a lower price for the Grangers and others who wished to put in an order. He also helped with the fairs which the Grange held for 1899 to 1912, and with the Grange Chautauqua, which was held at New Lenox in 1893 and 1894.