More Historical Documents

1. An excerpt from "Autobiography of Benjamin Johnson Radford," Eureka, Illinois, 1928, page 1-2. Radford was a former professor and president of Eureka College.


My father, Benj Johnson Radford, one of the charter members of the College Board of Trustees, came with his wife and five childern from Christian County, Kentucky, to Walnut Grove, in 1834, and the next year, on Section 13, Town 26 North, two West of the Third principal Meridian, established a typical pioneer home. He was born in Buckingham County, Virginia, in 1797, and my mother Frances Taylor Lawrence, was born in Louisa County, same State, in 1804. They were both of English stock. They came in their youth with their respective families to Christian County, Kentucky, and were married there, in 1825.

The house which my father built, in which I was born December 23, 1838, and in which I was raised, was a one-story frame. On the north were two rooms 16x16 with a huge chimney between them, with two wide fireplaces, the one on the west side for heating the family-room and the one on the east for cooking, washing, soap-making, lard-rendering and other sorts of culinary operations. On the south side of these rooms the roof was extended to cover the girls' bedroom, 8x10 feet, opening off the family-room, and the boys' bedroom, same size, opening of the kitchen, and a porch between them 8x12 feet. The framing materials; sills, studding, plates and rafters, were hewn from the nearby oak trees. The oaken shingles were were shaped with the drawing knife on the shaving horse, and the lath was rived from the same material with the frow. The weather-boarding was of black walnut, sawed at a pioneer mill. It was put on undressed, and was never painted, yet was sound and good when the house was torn down after sixty years.

Such was the typical pioneer home. Although occupied by a large family, there was always room for guests, a day or night. Strangers often lodged with us; travelers, peddlers or newly-arrived prospective settlers. How room was found for them I do not know, but it was done. In those days a house of two or three rooms was thought ample for a family of ten or twelve; now it requires a house of ten or twelve rooms for a family two or three in that community.


2. An excerpt from "A Paper on Eureka History by Annie E. Davidson. Given at reception given by president and Mrs. Raymond McLain to faculty and trustees of Eureka College, Sept. 8th, 1937," page 1. Annie was a granddaughter of Caleb and Martha Davidson

...In 1834 the Radford family came from Kentucky and no cabin available. They were strangers. Radfords had five childern, Davidsons five. Radfords occupied one room of the Davidson cabin through the winter, while neighbors helped cut down trees and build a cabin. For several years after Walnut Grove Academy was incorporated, 1849, grandfather kept from four to six young men students from elsewhere, without charging them board. They helped do the chores night and morning, and walked the distance. Grandmother did their washing and cooking.

Lincoln - 1854 RETURN

The figure shows the Davidson cabin that was shared with the Radfords in the winter of 1834-35.