E.P. Lovejoy & Lester R. Bryant

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The old Owen Lovejoy resi dence,of "Under ground Railway" memories,at Princeton,Ills.

[see Wm. Allen's (Erie, Ill) interview O.L. "spoke 3 hrs. in R.I."]

Thursday,Oct.1,1925.To Princeton,Ills.,and interviewed two men,viz Lester R.Bryant,nephew of William Cullen Bryant,and E.P.Lovejoy, a nephew of Elijah Lovejoy,martyr to negro slavery- liberation. SUBJECT:Underground Railway.Mr.Lovejoy said:-"My father was Owen Lovejoy,a brother of Elijah Lovejoy who was killed by the mob at Alton,Ills.,in 18 .I do not know of their taking

runaway slaves via Rock Island or Moline.They were headed for Canada;had come across the Ohio river.I do not know if they headed for Iowa as you say.Iowa was comparatively new then.I never heard of the slaves being taken there. This trail went north to LaMoille,Ills.,that's where they took them on.All this is hearsay,you know.They passed them from one station so a man could leave at night and get back to his station the same night.There was a lot of animosity here against abolitionists who helped slaves escape.There were only a few abolitionists,and lots of men not in favor of slavery but they were democrats and Democrats were the slave-holding party.There were always people here to help a slave-holder get his slave back. They'd get here and capture them but I don't know if they ever got any slaves back to the south.

I think they came here via Tiskilwa,There was one station this side of Bryant's--Deacon Reeves'.The wagon trail came via Boyds' Grove.

"Yes,That's the house my father,Owen Lovejoy lived in.The east end of it is not so old.It was the west end which was there the time of the slave traffic.

"It's strange how uninformed people are about the Underground railway.Some think it was literally built under the ground and they ask me if they can see the pit here,where they went down to the underground railway".

"Yes,I attended the unveiling of the Elijah Lovejoy monument at Alton,Ills."I was interested in a local matter there:The school authorities had just decided to segregate the colored folks into seperate schools--there were so many negroes there-and they resented it so that many of them would have nothing to do with the unveiling ceremonies".

"I can remember distinctly being as afraid of negroes as anything".

"I only remember one negro coming at night.They used to come by day.One time a whole wagon-load came by day,in a red-painted wagon.I wondered whether I'd have anything to eat after they got through.They stopped at my father's house but I do not remember if they went in..I couldn't say whether they ate at our house."

"At that time we had a few negroes thay lived here--free".

"The town of Ohio,12 miles north of here has a Stone for Black Hawk,and Lincoln was there.There's a well there and it is said Lincoln slaked his thirst there"at that well".

"The Bureau County Republican" has articles on the Underground railway here,written by people who claimed they were eyewitnesses but they were so young at the time they had to guess,and these articles are not reliable--of no value.There is really nothing definite that I know of. Of course no records were kept.It was all by word of mouth,and the work was mostly done after dark.The slavery folks here were pretty keen to head off the work of the underground railway,and of course,the abolitionists worked pretty keenly too,to evade them."

"The people who know at first hand are dead now".

"There is a record at the Court House here,where my father was indicted for harboring and comforting a negro woman,and feeding them.They had the trial and the indictment didn't hold."

"If you enquire about the underground railway you'll find no two people tell it alike".

"And N.Matson?--(author of 3 or 4 books hereabouts,viz, "Memories of Shaubena","Rem.of Bureau Co." and ) "He got his history from hearsay---like the Bible,it was mouth to mouth until recorded".

I took two pictures of the old Owen Lovejoy house--in which the underground railway had its activities.

"No I knew of no indian trails here,nor where Gen.Winfield Scott's men marched across the State". At Princeton,Ills.Oct.1.1925.

Lester R.Bryant,a gray-haired man,vigorous,said:"Father came to Jacksonville,Ills. in 1830 and came here to this place(A mi.South of Princeton,Ills) in 1833. UNDERGROUND RAILWAY:-"I didn't know so much about it.It was a little before my time,and my father wasn't mixed in it so much.Lovejoy was one of the centers i[n] that.My Uncle John Bryant was quite prominent in it.We was outside the route.I tell ya,Have you read Clark Carr's "Illini"? He had incidents here in Princeton.X I think naturally he would work it towards(his home town) Galesburg. That was his town,and the scenes were along here and Wyanet---I don't know the route after that,maybe to Galesburg.

"No,I don't know anything about Gen.Winfield Scott's route".

"No,nor any indian trails.that I ever know of.There were very few indians here when my folks came here.I remember my mother telling of a few on Bureau creek"."I heard my father tell of the Pottawatomies who went west by here,but I couldn't say what the year was. Father told of having had agreat crop of watermelons,and he sold them to those indians.They had lots of money then".

"Tiskilwa had an indian village".

And N.Matson?-IWell,of course,I don't know if Matson was reliable.The impressions I got from older people(Matson wrote in I2 Bryant. 1872-Rem.of Bureau Co.,and 1878,Mem.of Shaubena") were that he had an idea to tell a pretty fair story,whether exactly right or not, I think he investigated so he was a pretty good authority.He might have embellished it--this is merely my guess from remarks I've heard.Yes,I knew him presonally."

"Father was a tree man.You noticed the Maples both sides the road? He set them out a few years after he came here,and planted them in fence-corners of the worm fence.He hadn't much funds,and he got trees from ravines and transplanted them when he had time.That shows his tree-planting habit."

"In his native town,Cummington,Mass.,he and his brother planted the first street trees there.Afterwards he started the nursery business here.He said when he came here you could see all through where the timber is now--west of my (brick)house.He said there were large trees,but every year the prairies were burned over and young trees would be burned.After the white settlements, and an end to prairie fires the present timber grew up.(Large trees now).

"Yes.We are related to the poet,William Cullen Bryant. Father was a brother ofhis.There were five boys,four of them settled here in the early days.3--Bryant,Princeton,Ills.Oct.1.1925.

"Yes,William C.Bryant the poet came here to Princeton a number of times to visit,but he did not live here.I found only recently he wasat Jacksonville at a very early day,1835,maybe before that".

"Poetry in our family?--Not as far as I'm concerned.No poetry in my family.My Uncle wrote considerable poetry and published a volume or two(Uncle John?).My father was a little too particular. a good deal of what folks called poetry didn't pass with him.A sister of mine has written some good verses".


Bryant's have an apple orchard of "30 or 35 acres.Last year they got ten-thousand bushels of apples,this year the May frost caught them and they have but 2.000 bu. The have a grading machine which sorts automatically as to size;get $2.00 for small Jonathans,$2.50 for better size,sell mostly to folks coming to the orchard;do NOT sell on Sundays;make cider and vinegar of all culls xxxxx "Yes.I spray"--"I've sprayed nearly Fifty years--ever since they began to know of its value".

"Yes,I was born here.I was the younger boy on the farm".His son is with him now.I did not learn how much of a family he has, butthe old place has the largest,and finest trees I know anywhere. Large Tulip trees,and a Catalpa measuring about 184 inches around at chest- high.White birch-very large;Cucumber txxxx magnolia,etc.

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