|Birth: ||Aug. 31, 1823|
|Death: ||Feb. 11, 1911|
Sylvester Peasley was born in Grayson County, Virginia, August, 31, 1823. His father's name was Isaac Peasley, and his mother's name, before her marriage, was Rachel Holsey. His father was of Scotch descent. His great grandfather came from Paisley, in Scotland, and this was the family name, but the spelling was changed to Peasley. This great grandfather Paisley was a general in the Revolutionary war, and served with distinction in the Continental army. Sylvester Peasley's grandfather, John Peasley, was also a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and fought in seven general engagements. He was at the battle of Guilford Court House, and his home was near the battle-ground. When the battle opened, Mrs. Peasley, Sylvester's grandmother, was told by some British officers to go into her house and wrap some beds around her to protect her from being shot. They milked her cows, but honestly paid for the milk. Those who know anything of army life will consider the latter a very extraordinary circumstance.
In the fall of 1834, Mr. Isaac Peasley's family came to McLean County, Illinois, and arrived November 3. On their journey they saw in Kentucky many drovers taking large droves of swine to the south, lie saw thousands of turkeys driven on foot to Louisville, where they were shipped on steamboats down the river. When the family arrived in McLean County, they had a hard time to find a house to live in through the winter, but finally obtained a cabin of Jesse Funk. It was built of logs, with a chimney of sticks on the outside. This chimney was built of sticks with clay between them, and was plastered on the inside with soft clay. The fire-place was built of clay pressed against a rack of puncheons; the hearth was of pounded clay, and the mantlepiece was made of clay and sticks. They used a goods-box for a table and goods-boxes or three-legged stools for chairs. The doors were made of clapboards split and shaved with a drawingknife. The floors were made of puncheons, which had been first split and then hewed with a broad-axe. The cradle was made of shaved clapboards; but sometimes the baby was rocked in the sugar trough, which was hewed out of a trunk of a tree. The pioneer bedstead has been so often described that anything further is superfluous here.
The Peasley family lived for two years as renters in Jesse Funk's cabin, and then built one of their own.
Mr. Peasley obtained a prairie team of four yoke of oxen which drew a plow with a shear of cold-hammered iron, which cut a furrow two feet wide. The wooden mould-board was from four to six feet long. This laid down the sod much better than any modern plow. Mr. Peasley could plow twenty acres before going to the shop to sharpen the shear. The routine of the day was to rise at daybreak and hunt the oxen which had been turned out the night previous to graze. This was the greatest hardship, as the dew was on the high grass, and whoever walked through it became soaking wet to the waist. After breakfast, began the work of ploughing. At noon the oxen were allowed to graze for two hours, and at night they were turned loose until morning. The snakes were sometimes very thick, and they continually retreated from the furrow as the sod was turned over, and collected together in the unplowed center. When the latter part of the patch was plowed the snakes became so thick that the grass would fairly wriggle with them. The rattlesnakes were very thick. Mr. Peasley has killed fifteen in one day. The oxen were sometimes bitten by rattlesnakes, and were made lame for sometime. Mr. Peasley never knew an ox to die of snakebite. The oxen dreaded the rattlesnakes, and when the rattle sounded the oxen sprang up faster than they ever would because of the whip. The danger of the rattlesnake's bite depends much on the season of the year. They are most dangerous in August, for then the poison is most virulent. Mr. Peasley's brother was bitten by rattlesnakes three times in one season, and still feels the effect in August.
Mr. Peasley lived with his father in a log cabin on the prairie during the winter of 1836 and '37. He speaks of the sudden change of the weather in December of that Avinter, so often described in this volume, and says that the sun rose on the following morning accompanied by two sundogs, which glistened on the ice-bound prairie, and the country was like some picture of the polar regions. The longest winter known among the early settlers was the one of 1842 and '43. Winter weather commenced on the tenth of November, and did not break up uutil between the tenth and twentieth of April. No ploughing could be done in April. Nevertheless, the settlers raised fine crops of wheat sowed in May, and good crops of corn planted in June.
Sylvester Peasley speaks warmly of the social feeling which existed among the early settlers, and how glad they were to see every new comer. When meeting was held in the neighborhood everyone attended. The Methodists were the first in the field, then the Cumberland Presbyterians, then the Baptists and then the Christians. At a camp-meeting the whole country had a reunion, and families frequently went fifteen miles to meeting with their ox-teams. In warm weather preaching was held in the open air.
Mr. Peasley was a Democrat until the formation of the Republican party, when he joined the latter because of his opposition to slavery. The political excitement of that period is well remembered, and when the Republican and Democratic parties first fairly tried their strength in 1856, the excitement was intense. Mr. Peasley remembers a practical joke played upon the supporters of Buchanan by the friends of Fremont. The Democrats had raised a hickory pole, and on it was a pair of buck's horns; but some Republicans came and secretly bored the pole at the bottom until it fell, and then stole the buck's horns.
Mr. Peasley was elected one of the first Supervisors under the township organization, which was effected in 1858.
Mr. Peasley has endured the privations to which the early settlers were subjected. He has made the usual trips to Chicago, lias been out twenty-six days in succession exposed to the coldest of winter weather, has waded the Kankakee River when his clothes were frozen as soon as he came out, and he has slept on the ground in wet weather by cutting brush and laying it down to protect him from the mud. He has given away the better portion of his life to itinerant work when the salary was little or nothing, and has attended to five churches. He never had the advantages of an education, and the information he possesses has been gained in a great measure by study near a fire at night. He is a very humorous man, and loves his joke. His eyes sparkle when he tells some funny anecdote, and he enjoys it over again as well as at first. He is generous, kind and hospitable, and Avishes to live in peace with all men. He is very conscientious, but does not wish to be a fanatic in anything. He has been an ardent worker in Sabbath-school enterprises and still takes great interest in the cause. He is six feet and one inch in height;his appearance and manner suggest the old settler, and he takes comfort in sitting by the old fashioned fire-place.
Mr. Peasley, November 3, 1842, married Miss Mary Stillnian, who died October 2, 1863. He had six children born by this marriage, of whom five are living. He married, April 6, 1864, Mrs. Susan Crosby, and by this marriage had one child which died when very young. Mr. Peasley's children are :
Granville Peasley, born October 14, 1845, lives in Kendall County, Illinois.
Rachel Susan, born October 29, 1848, wife of Eli Barton, lives in Downs township.
Isaac Peasley, born October 24, 1851, and John Peasley, born July 16, 1854, live at home.
Bissell Peasley (named after Governor Bissell) born January 19,1857, died in infancy.
Esther Corncliette Peasley, born October 13, 1859, lives at home.
Sarah Elvira Peasley, daughter by Mr. Peasley's second marriage, was born July 25, 1866, and died November 8, 1869.
Isaac Peasley (1798 - 1851)
Rachel Persilla Halsey Peasley (1803 - 1865)
Mary Stillman Peasley (1822 - 1863)
Susan Barclay Crosby Peasley (1822 - 1900)
Amanda E Scarbrough Peasley (1863 - 1946)*
Granville Peasley (1845 - 1930)*
Isaac Newell Peasley (1851 - 1937)*
John Sylvester Peasley (1854 - 1934)*
Sylvester Peasley (1823 - 1911)
William Wilburn Peasley (1832 - 1888)*
Mary Elvira Peasley Stillman (1832 - 1870)*
Created by: Tony Cannon
Record added: Jun 23, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11223739
Added: Aug. 11, 2017
we will remember you. G-G-G-Grandfather|
memories live on
Added: Feb. 22, 2013