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
Pages 168-173

John H. S. Rhodes was born October 16, 1796, on George's Creek in Maryland. His father, Ebenezer Rhodes, and his mother, Mary Starr, were of English and German descent. When he was three years of age he moved to Pennsylvania with his father's family, and at the age of nine years he came to Ohio. Here he grew up to manhood, and in course of time was married, as would naturally be expected. In 1823 all of the Rhodes family came to Illinois. During the first winter of their arrival they stayed in Sangamon County, and in April, 1824, came to Blooming Grove, then called Keg Grove. There are two explanations of the change of name to Blooming Grove; one is that its latter name was suggested by Mrs. William  Orendorff,and the other is that it was agreed to by Thomas Orendorff and John Rhodes. It is very probable that both of these explanations are correct, and indeed the evidence'in favor of either cannot be disputed. Mr. Rhodes says that while he and Thomas Orendorff were writing letters they asked each other what they should call the place, and Mr. Orendorff, glancing at the maple trees, which were in full bloom, said : "It looks blooming here, I think we will call it Blooming Grove." It has kept the name ever since. Mr. Rhodes was very poor when he came to Blooming Grove, indeed his worldly possessions consisted at that time of almost nothing at all. The winter after he came to the Grove he went to Sangamon County and husked corn for Hardy Council and his brother-in-law, McClellan. He received his wages in corn, and was allowed two and a half bushels per day for himself and team.
He husked corn until his wages amounted to a load and then started home. When he arrived at Elkhart Grove he ground his corn at the little horse mill belonging to Judge Latham, the Indian agent. He crossed Salt Creek and the Kickapoo during the following day. As the Kickapoo was high he took his load across in a canoe, took his wagon across in pieces, and swain his horses over. It was very cold and they were covered with a coating of ice. After going three miles he stopped over night at the house of a man named Lantrus, and the following morning started at day-break for home. After going about five miles he was obliged to walk on account of the cold; but after a few miles walking he found that the bottoms of his moccasins were worn off and his bare feet were pressing the snow, for in the meantime a severe snow storm had set in from the northwest. When he had gone half way home it seemed that he must freeze to death. Then he thought of his wife and children, who would starve for the want of the corn in his wagon ; and the strong man began to cry. But the thought of his family nerved him, and he hung on to the wagon, and his horses walked home. It was after night when he arrived, and found his feet frozen to his ankles. He immediately put them in a tub of water, while his wife took care of the horses. For weeks afterwards his feet were all drawn up and he felt in them a burning sensation as if a hot iron had passed over them.While he had been gone every one at home had been industrious; even the dogs had done their duty and killed fourteen wolves.

Mr. Rhodes has had many adventures while hunting. A few years after he came to Blooming Grove, he went on a hunt to Old Town timber. There he slept one night in a hollow log, and the next morning started a buck, and shot it a little too far back to kill it. After following the. buck some distance, he saw it standing and tossing his head up and down as if in distress. Mr. Rhodes shot at the head, as the buck was not standing sideways to him, and down it came. The hunter incautiously ran up and struck the deer in the forehead with a tomahawk ; but the deer sprang up and pitched Mr. Rhodes on the ground, and attempted to gore him with its horns. Mr. Rhodes grasped the antlers, and they struck in his stomach. The buck tried to draw back to come with force on the prostrate hunter, but Mr. Rhodes held it fast. Then it lifted Mr. Rhodes up on its antlers and tried to pitch him over its head, but the hunter's shoulder struck on the neck 6f the deer. Then the buck thrashed him around for nearly three-quarters of an hour and made a noise like the bellowing of a bull. But at last it tired of the contest and stopped to blow, with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. The second time he stopped to blow, Mr. Rhodes grasped his butcher knife and quickly cut the cords behind the deer's fore leg, and the next time the buck made a lunge it came down on one knee. Then Mr. Rhodes, with another stroke cut the cords of the remaining fore leg, and the buck fell, and the hunter rolled off of the horns. He was so badly bruised that he expected to die immediately, and was for a while in great pain ; but he recovered himself soon after and killed his deer. After this contest he never approached his game without a loaded gun. The buck was one -of great size, and when dressed his meat weighed nearly two hundred pounds.

Mr. Rhodes' experience with the Indians has usually been pleasant. He found them to be like their white brethren in many things; some were honest and some were dishonest. There were large numbers of Kickapoos wThen he first came, and afterwards a few hundred Delawares made their appearance, and stayed until the commencement of the Black Hawk troubles.

The Indians were usually very playful and loved fun and practical jokes. The old chief Machiua was a very cunning Indian and had some strange peculiarities. He always denied selling the country to the whites. John Ehodes told him that he did sell the country to the whites, and that Boss Stony (the President) had it on paper. Machiua replied: "D—n quick putting black upon white."

"When what was called the Winnebago war was threatened, John Rhodes called out the company of men of which he was captain and responded to the call made by the Governor for troops; but the matter was soon settled and the troops never took the field.

During the Black Hawk war, which occurred a few years afterwards in 1832, Major McClure and Captain Rhodes called out a company, of which McClure was chosen captain and Rhodes first lieutenant. They marched to Dixon where they arrived the evening before the fight at Stillmau's Run. After the fight they moved with the rest of the army up to the battleground and helped to bury the dead. From there his company went to Indian Creek where the families of Davis, Hall and Pettigrew were massacred. These they buried and John Rhodes himself carried out their bodies. It seems that these people had been told of the coming of the Indians; but Davis, who was a blacksmith and a man of great strength and courage, refused to heed the warning. When the Indians came they found him at a building at work and the families in the house. The families were massacred almost without resistance, but Davis had his gun with him and fought with desperation. He was found covered with a hundred wounds and his gun was bent and twisted in every direction. Shortly after the burial of these families the troops were discharged, and the army was re-organized, and John Rhodes and the most of his company came home.

In early days great attention was paid to military drill. At first a company was organized under the militia law of the State, and Mr. Rhodes was chosen captain; but afterwards the country became so well settled that the company grew to a regiment, of which Merritt Covel was- chosen colonel, Robert McClure was made major and A. Gridley, adjutant. The regiment was obliged to drill five times a year, and whoever failed to come to training was court-martialed. On these occasions the colonel presided and in his absence the eldest captain, which was John Rhodes.

Mr. Rhodes takes great pleasure in calling to mind the scenes of the early settlement. He helped to build the first mill on his father's place in 1825, with the grinding stones of nigger- heads. He has been a great hunter and often killed deer and wolves where the court house stands. While bringing up a lot of hogs from Sangamon County, he was followed by a wild boar, lie shot the animal twice without killing it, when it attacked him and he was obliged to climb a cherry tree to escape. The wild hogs had once been tame, but had lost all the qualities of domestic animals, and were as wild as if their swinish ancestors had never known a pig-pen.

Mr. Rhodes was a natural hunter, and a sharp marksman and never felt' the cold tremors or " buck ague " come over him when about to shoot. He was a man of steady nerve, and when his finger pressed the trigger the gun was covering the game. In his early youth he was a hunter. At one time while living in Ohio, and only seventeen or eighteen years of age, he was called to help kill a bear, which had been found not far away. The dogs drove the bear into a swamp and brought him to bay, and when Mr. Rhodes came up, the animal climbed a tree, the dogs hanging to him until he was ten feet high. The bear's jaw was broken by a shot and he came down when the dogs pitched into him. Mr. Rhodes joined in the melee, and struck the bear in the forehead with a tomahawk. The weapon stuck fast and the bear raked Rhodes' arm from the shoulder down. He succeeded in loosening it and struck again, when it again stuck fast, and he received another rake from the shoulder down. Then a hunter, who was looking on, called out: "John, a little lower," and Mr. Rhodes struck the bear just above the eyes, which killed it.

Unlike most hunters, Mr. Rhodes has acquired a great deal of property. He has purchased in all about two thousand acres of land and has five hundred acres under his own management.

John Rhodes is fully six feet in height and was formerly very straight and muscular. Although he is now far advanced in years, his eyes have a bright, expressive look when he is interested in anything. He is a good business man, and has as much confidence in his ability to manage his financial aft'airs as in his ability to kill a deer or run a wolf. He appears younger than he is, and seems to be in the full possession of all his faculties. It would appear that he has many years yet to live, and his great vitality would even now bear him up under many hardships.

John Rhodes has been married three times, and has had thirteen children, seven of whom are living. lie first married Mary Johnson, who died December 15, 1845. Five children of this marriage are living. They are :

Cynthia Ann, wife of Benjamin Turnipseed, born July 28, 1819, lives at the head of the Mackinaw.

Caroline Bellew, wife of William Bellew, was born February 6, 1823, and lives at the head of the Mackinaw.

William J. Rhodes, born February 16, 1825, lives a mile east of his father's.

Emily Brewster, wife of John Brewster, was born June 21, 1827, and lives one mile south of her father's.

Aaron Pain Rhodes was born April 28, 1833, and lives one and a half miles southeast of his father's, on the Leroy road.

John Rhodes married the second time to Mrs. Mary Ann Yazel, a widow, and by this marriage has two living children. They are:

Samuel M. Rhodes, born September 16, 1850, and Cinderella Rhodes, born August 15, 1852, live at home.

John Rhodes married, the last time, Mrs. Maria Ensminger, a widow, on the 13th of March, 1863. They appear to take the world comfortably. Mrs. Rhodes is a wide awake lady. She takes a great deal of interest in the history of other days, and is one of the most agreeable of women.

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