The Back Rhodes of Our Genealogy

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Probate records of Adam Rhodes in Champaign Co., OH
1874 Reverend Ebenezer Rhodes, of McLean Co., IL
1899 Rev. Ebenezeb Rhodes, of McLean County, IL
1874 John H. S. Rhodes of McLean County, IL
1874 Jeremiah Rhodes of McLean County, IL

From: The Good Old Times in McLean County, Illinois
By E. Duis
Published by Leader Pub. and Print. House, 1874
page 173-177

Jeremiah Rhodes, son of Rev. Ebenezer Rhodes, was born February 11, 1806, in Champaign County, Ohio. There he received his common school education until he was eighteen years of age. School began there at eight o'clock in the morning and was kept eight hours during the day. He remembers the war of 1812 very clearly, though he was then very young. His father was a corporal in the army during that exciting contest. In the fall of 1823 the Rhodes- family came to Illinois, to Sangamon County. They had no very exciting adventures on their journey, but when they arrived at their destination at Blooming Grove matters became interesting enough. The Indians came for them and ordered them away from the country. Mr. Rhodes, sen., was out in the woods making rails, when a party of Indians came to his house and sent one of their number to bring him in. Old Machina, the chief, then told Mr. Rhodes not to make corn there, but to go back to the other side of the Sangamon River. The chief declared he had never signed any treaty ceding the land to the whites, and that white men should not settle there. The facts relating to the treaty were, that Old Machina was sick at the time, but sent his son to treat with the whites, and the son signed the articles. When the Indian agent told Machina of this he acknowledged its truth, but said: "My heart did not go with it." Old Machina threatened to burn the houses of the settlers, but at last allowed Mr. Rhodes' family to remain until fall to gather their crops. Mr. Rhodes' recollection of the Indians is pretty clear. lie remembers one time when the whole tribe of the Kickapoos went on a spree or drunken dance. They used up twenty gallons of whisky, and invited in their Pottawotamie friends. On this grand occasion one of the Indians showed that he had learned a beautiful lesson from civilization, for while drunk he beat his wife over the head with a whisky bottle. At the great dance, about six or eight Indians formed in twos and jumped around flat-footed, with tinkling bells attached to their ankles. Old Machina had a gourd with stones in it, and these he shook up and down to keep time. Another musical instrument was formed from a ten gallon keg with a deer skin drawn tightly over one end. This was carried on the back of a half-grown papoose, and was beaten with a stick. The dancers had their bodies painted black, but over their breasts was painted in white a pair of hands and arms crossed. Outside of the circle of dancers an Indian held up a stick cut in the shape of a gun. The stick was pointed upwards, and was supposed to be an emblem of peace. Another Indian held up a tomahawk, with his hand close to the blade, but what this meant is not easy to be seen. The Indians received a little assistance in their performance by old John Dawson, who danced and sang with them. They were willing to allow his dancing, but stopped his singing, as it spoiled the exquisite music of the gourd full of rocks and the keg. The Indians kept time by repeating monotonously the words : "Hu way," "hu way," &c., and the squaws, who were gathered in a circle around the dancers, looked on admiringly.

The Indians were very superstitious, and their ideas sometimes took queer shapes. At one time a squaw died from some sickness, which brought on the lockjaw, and as she was drawing her last breath an Indian went out and fired his gun in the air to send her spirit up to heaven. The Indians believed in witchcraft. An old squaw was once accused of bewitching a child, which was sick, and it was said that she held communication with an Indian at Fort George, four hundred miles distant, and that they flew to each other as fast as a chicken, and held consultation as to how many people they were able to kill.

The Indians were very revengeful, and their quarrels nearly always resulted fatally. They sometimes practiced the duello to settle their difficulties. Mr. Rhodes remembers two Indians who fought a duel on the banks of the Illinois River. One of them was a Kickapoo and the other a Pottawotamie. One fought with a tomahawk and the other with a butcher knife ; the one with the butcher knife was successful.

The Indians wished very much to prevent the settlement of the country by frightening off the whites, and succeeded in scaring away three families, who had settled on the Mackinaw, by firing guns and brandishing butcher knives. They threatened to kill Mrs. Benson's cattle and pigs if she went to her husband who lived at Blooming Grove, thirty miles away. But the brave woman replied to the threat by holding up one of her children and saying : "And my papooses too ?" "No," replied the chief, Machina, "I would go to damnation if I should do that."

The Indians traded with the settlers giving them beeswax and moccasins in return for corn. In the fall of the year when they made preparations to move into winter quarters, they frequently buried their corn to keep it during the winter.

The Indians had occasionally some curiosity to hear the preaching of the gospel, and to learn something of the God of rhe white man. At one time the Kickapoos went so far as to hold a meeting, and have an interpreter to tell them what the preacher said.

Among the various devices for grinding wheat and corn was the mill with grinding stones cut from nigger heads on the prairie. After the wheat was ground, the flour was separated from the bran by sifting in a box with a bottom of two cloths, through which the flour passed. Mr. Rhodes' father built one of these mills, which served the neighborhood for three years. The nearest mill besides this one was forty-five miles distant. It is not easy for us to appreciate the difficulties, which sprang from the absence of the common conveniences of life. The settlers were obliged to go to the Sangamon River to get their plough irons sharpened, a distance of fifty miles.

The old settlers being liable to all the ills that flesh is heir to occasionally stood in need of the attentions of the doctor or the surgeon. They could get along very well so far as the doctor was concerned, but the surgeon's skill was not easily obtained. Mr. Rhodes' younger brother was so unfortunate as to break his leg, and old John Dawson attended him and set the limb. The patient recovered, but his leg was always crooked.

The West was formerly subject to occasional whirlwinds and hurricanes, but it does not seem to have been visited by them of late years. A terrible hurricane passed through Blooming Grove and tore down many forest trees. Still another passed through in 1859, and was strong enough to pick up a mule out of a pasture and carry it over two fences.

The Rhodes family tell some curious things of the memorable change in the weather, which occurred in December, 1836. After being warm and rainy it turned so suddenly cold that the geese and chickens froze fast in the slush of snow and water. When they became frozen fast, they squalled as they always do when caught. Mrs. Rhodes thawed them out with warm water. Some of the chickens had their bills frozen full of ice. When the sudden change took place and the wind came, the cattle ran bawling for the timber and were not seen again for three days. Mr. Rhodes has been a thrifty farmer, but his trade was that of a chairmaker. He built the substantial dwelling where he now lives, with the assistance of his eldest son.

Mr. Rhodes now feels the effects of age, though he enjoys a Mr degree of health. He is about five feet and eleven inches in height. His hair was once dark, but is now sprinkled with gray. His eyes are dark, but have a mild, honest expression, and he is a kind-hearted, pleasant old gentleman.

Mr. Rhodes was married March 26, 1835, to Mathurza Johnson. He has raised ten children, five boys and five girls, and of these nine are living.

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