Charles and Mary Jones Dodd’s move to Illinois

By

Lucy Miller Dodd

Charles Dodd, Melvin Dodd’s grandfather, was born June 19, 1811 in Botetourt County, VA, went with his parents to Jefferson County, TN. In 1830 he moved to Bradley County, TN. In 1830 he moved to Bradley County, TN and married in McMinn County, TN in 1981. He purchased land in Bradley County, TN. In 1851, or early 1852, he moved to Sangamon County, IL. He settled on a farm east of Loami, so stated in the new book of the Old Settlers of Sangamon County, sold it and bought land in the southeast part of Loami Township for $18 per acre. (The family now living think that they settled on the last named spot upon arrival.) The taxes were $18 per year and finally went up $200, or a $1 per acre, as there were 200 acres in the place.

He lived there until his death November 19, 1881, dying at the ripe old age (as thought then) of 70 years and five months. His widow survived him until June 4, 1906, dying at the ripe old age of 91 years.

She was an active church member. Mr. Dodd belonged to no special religious organizations, although he gave freely to all movements of a religious or charitable nature.

In politics he was a staunch, active Democrat and belonged to the Masonic Order, which conducted his funeral. His first vote was for President Jackson and Sam Houston for Governor of Tennessee. (Houston, TX was named for Sam Houston.)

He and first wife went to housekeeping in a log hut in Kentucky, where cattle had bunked in the winter. However, when Mary Tempelton Jones Dodd (Polly as she was known to her family and friends) had finished cleaning, it was as immaculate as a log hut with only a dirt floor could be.

He was only 20 years of age and Polly was 16 when they married. After they came to Illinois, Charles Dodd went back to Tennessee to collect some money on property sold, probably the farm he sold before coming to Illinois. Polly said, "I was lonesome on or so near the prairies of Illinois and longed for the hills of my Tennessee home," and hoped when he returned he would say, ‘Well, we will leave Illinois for someone else to settle and we will go back to our old home in Tennessee.’ However, when he returned, he said emphatically, "We’ll stick to Illinois," so her fate was sealed; but she was too busy rearing her ten children born in Tennessee, and later the two born in Illinois, to let herself be disappointed long or let anybody know about it. (It seemed strange that she should want to go back to Tennessee because in 1849 her half brothers moved to Missouri. Polly’s mother died when Polly was born and she lived with her stepmother Mrs. Joshua Bingham Jones. Her mother and father passed away before the Jones brothers went to Missouri to live.)

They lived in the log house at first and the Dodd brothers that came here at the same time built cabins not far away; and all settled down and stayed. Billy Dodd settled east just a little way and lived in a log cabin.

When her husband came back and said, "We’ll live in Illinois," she started about this business of making friends, as well as a home in the new country, and she made a success of it. No one ever had a better friend than Grandma was and no one ever had more friends than she.

Sometime before they had been in Illinois ten years they built on to the log cabin. This was built before 1862 because the Jones brothers, Benjamin and Joshua, the first and third sons of Joshua B. Jones, together with their families moved to Illinois for one year, to escape the rebels who were thick in Missouri where they lived. They came after the battle of Wilson Creek. Benjamin’s oldest son, Clay Jones, visited in Illinois in July 1940. I, Lucy M. Dodd, took him to the Dodd homestead; he said, "This was a thick timber all around here and seems muchly changed, but I guess I forgotten for they lived in their new house when they came." I find out the truth of the matter is, they built a large living room and one smaller room on to the south of the double log cabin making it four rooms and later built the two-story part four big rooms and hall between. At the time of Jessie Dodd’s marriage to Flora Wienteer, the two rooms with the flat roof were added, and the house made into two apartments.

In Tennessee, not far from the Dodd Brothers home the Cherokee Indians had a reservation. The whites were trying to get them to move to the Indian Territory, which they finally did but not until they had gotten on the warpath. In 1940, Leora Dodd Johnson visited this part of the country, going to the Indian Reservation and the chief told them that the Indians divided at the time of the wrangle and some few escaped to the hills and lived under the cover until the rest were well settled in Indian Territory, and had multiplied, gotten land and formed another reservation.

Charles Dodd often told about the Indians moving out and said he butchered beef for them to eat on the way to the territory. (The above information was given to me by J.W. Dodd, better known as "Uncle Jess," the only surviving son of Charles and Polly Dodd.)

(The following was told to me by Grandma Dodd, better known to many as "Aunt Polly Dodd.") These Tennessee Indians were on the war path, trying to persuade all the Indians to move to the territory and some stubbornly declining and they finally got to scouting around to get the whites that were causing some of the disturbance and scalped men, women and children, and burned their homes.

One day someone came on horseback to spread the news, that the Indians were coming. Polly started to her father’s (or a neighbor’s) with her two children, one a tiny baby, in her arms. She heard the Indians coming and she told me this herself; as I remember, she said, "I left the trail, went only a little way back in the forest behind a brush pile and prayed softly in a whisper, into the ears of the oldest child asking God to protect them and keep the baby from crying and keep the older child still and save us; and he did." Since that experience she said, "I have been a firm believer in prayer and trust in God. He needed me to help carry on this religious faith in Illinois and I’ve tried to do it." Just another testimonial to her right way of living.

Once when I was a teenage girl, we had a new preacher come to the old South Fork Church and he wanted to pay the organist. There was strife among the congregation about it. As my father and family drive home from the church services one Sunday we happened to have this said preacher, Brother Ives, in the front seat of the sleigh with my father. Just ahead of us, Bryce Weir and family were in a similar two-seated sleigh and Polly lived with them (or rather they lived with her at the old homestead). Polly, Grandma Dodd, as we called her, was in the back seat; she reached over and touched Mr. Weir as they turned east to go up the lane and said, "Stop!" He did, then she threw up her hands for my father to stop. Grandma stood up on the back seat and slapping both hands said, "Mr. Ives, I want you to know Salvation is FREE, twice, sat down, touched Mr. Weir and said, "Drive on, Bryce" and he went, we went north. After we had rounded the corner and driven about half way down the old hill, my father said to the preacher, "Well, I guess you got told, didn’t you?" That preacher never answered for a long time and we jogged on in silence. Finally when we were about home, he roused, shifted his feet, and said, "Well, I guess I’m wrong; Grandma Dodd has lived a lot longer than I and with all the education she has gathered in that life of experience, she probably knows what she is talking about." This was in the winter of 1886-87 as nearly as I can figure out.

When things have been mixed up in church work, Grandma Dodd’s picture, standing on the back seat of the sleigh, with herself clad in black bonnet, strings tied under her chin and black shawl with a sort of gray border, fringed all around, folded corner-wise, and pinned closely at the neck (she wore mittens which she pulled off and dropped in the seat when she got up to deliver her message.), comes to me very clearly and I say silently to myself, "Salvation is Free."

But I must get back to my original theme. It was a strange fact that she wanted to go back to Tennessee, because in 1949 the whole Jones family to her, her half-brothers and families had moved to Missouri to live. Her mother died when she was born and a sister born before her died in infancy.

Aunt Amelia Mahard told me about their trip from Tennessee while lying in bed during her last sickness, but I find nearly authentic as any records. She was flighty about her sleep and weary but when she would get on to the subject of travelling in a covered wagon to Illinois she would perk up and tell it as if it had happened the week before. I wasn’t so interested in the trip and only remember of her telling that there was quite a company of people and that the children all walked a lot of the way and played by the roadside and then ran and caught up with the wagons and were always on hand at mealtime. She said, "My little brother Charlie who was just 4 years old (possibly he had a birthday on the road for he was a March baby and it was spring when they arrived in Auburn), he always said that he walked a large part of the way to Illinois, for the children had to take turns walking from Tennessee to Illinois. We had come from Tennessee and had lived among the hills and in the timber, so of course the older folks thought we must get to timber or everyone would freeze during the winter in Illinois. Folks in Auburn told us to go northwest and we would soon come to timber, and plenty of it. Late in the evening, we drove into water and drove on and on; finally the teams were so tired we stopped out in that lake for the night.

"My mother had ten children and well do I remember that part of us were short enough to lie crosswise on the wagon; my sister Sarah and brother Charlie were last in the wagon and I was third from the end, keeping a guardian eye on them as they slept, but I didn’t sleep for a long time. The frogs croaked and we seemed to be even far from God. I don’t think the older folks slept, for very early they saw a light; my sister Catherine and one of my brothers walked out on the tongue of the wagon, unhitched the traces and they each got on a horse (or a mule; I forget which) and rode to this light. They were soon out of the pond and soon came to the house. The lady of the house baked biscuits for the entire family and sent them out to us. The wagons pulled out of the water and we were thankful to be on land again. We were near the Jack Fowler homestead. We turned north and soon struck timber stopped, unloaded, started building a log cabin and started to live in Illinois in the spring of 1851 or 1852."

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