From: The Good Old Times in McLean County, Illinois
By E. Duis
Published by Leader Pub. and Print. House, 1874
The information necessary to write the following sketch of Rev.
Ebenezer Rhodes was furnished by Mrs. Jeremiah Rhodes, his
daughter-in-law. Reverend Ebenezer Rhodes was
born in 1780 in Holland.
He has often said that when he was verv young the people were obliged
to go in boats to milk their cows. Mr. Rhodes was, even when
a boy, very tender-hearted. Atone
time a widow lady came to his father's house and asked for a little
corn. But provisions were
scarce then, and the old gentleman was afraid of a famine, and refused.
But when young Ebenezer and his brother learned of the circumstance
they took a bushel
and a half of the old gentleman's corn to her, a distance of
about four miles. The Rhodes
family came to America when Ebenezer was very young, so that he was
enabled to learn a few of the
pranks to which the American youths were addicted. His father was very
particular about the
watermelon patch, but Ebenezer sometimes " lifted" it.
"When he was about nineteen years of age he married Mrs.
Mary Starr, a
widow, who lived in Maryland. In about the year 1803 he moved to
Champaign County, Ohio,
near the present town of Urbana, on Derby Creek. While near
there in 1806 the neighborhood was
alarmed by threats of an Indian massacre, and the Rhodes family rode
forty miles in one day to
escape. But it proved a false alarm, caused by an Indian dance. In 1807
Mr. Rhodes moved to
Buck Creek, six or seven
miles distant. In about the year 1819 or '20 he was ordained as a
preacher. In October, 1823, he came to Sangamon County,
Illinois, and in April following he came to
McLean County. As soon as three or four families could be collected
together, Mr. Rhodes began
preaching. He preached without receiving any salary or any hope or
thought of reward. He
belonged first to tbe Separate Baptists, but afterwards united with the
Christian church. He and the
Rev. Mr. Latta, a
Methodist minister, often traveled together and frequently preached at
the same place. Mr. Rhodes preached at Hittle's Grove, Cheney's Grove,
Sugar Grove, Long
Point, Big Grove, Twin Grove, Dry Grove, the head of the Mackinaw and
other places. lie was
-the first preacher in McLean County and for a long time the only one.
He organized the first
church within the bounds of the present McLean County at his house at
Blooming Grove, and
everybody in the county met there to celebrate the occasion.
This was in 1829. No building for
public worship had then been put up, but people met
everywhere in private houses. While not engaged
in preaching Mr. Rhodes made chairs and reels and wheels for
spinning flax, cotton and wool.
In February, 1840, Mr. Rhodes met with an accident which made him an
invalid the remainder of his days. While cutting a tree in
the timber it fell on him breaking
one of his thighs and mashing the knee of the other leg. He
was obliged always afterwards to
go on crutches and lived only two years more. He died of
consumption which was probably brought
on by the accident in the timber.
In 1832 Mr. Rhodes and his son Samuel built a saw mill on Sugar Creek
which they ran by water for two years. They made the mill,
dug the race and ran it together.
But young Aaron Rhodes was drowned there while swimming in the pond,
and this sad event so
disheartened the old gentleman that he tore down his mill shortly
afterwards and sold his saw and the
ironwork with it.
There were in the Rhodes family six boys and three girls, and of these
four boys and one girl are now living. They are :
John H. S. Rhodes lives about two miles southeast of Bloom- ington on
the Leroy road.
Samuel Rhodes lives in Iowa, near Winterset.
Mrs. Naomi Nigest, wife of Samuel Nigest, lives in Jones County, Iowa.
Jeremiah Rhodes lives three miles southeast of Bloomington on the Leroy
Rev. James Rhodes lives at Des Moines, Iowa.
Rev. Ebenezer Rhodes was about six feet in height, had a Roman nose,
weighed one hundred and seventy-five pounds, had a long, narrow face
and was very
stoop-shouldered. He was an earnest preacher and an active wide-awake
man. He read the Scriptures carefully
and was well versed in biblical lore.