The Old Settlers Association

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

The Old Settlers’ association was organized, and the first meeting held in Hillsboro July 2, 1873, partly to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Hillsboro in 1823. While Hillsboro had inhabitants prior to that date, yet the plat and final papers establishing the town were accepted by the county commissioners on July 2, 1823.

At that, the first Old Settlers’ meeting, Peter B. Hill was made the chairman and Henry W. Hyatt and George W. Paisley, secretaries. The work of organizing had been done chiefly by A. H. H. Rountree and after listening to a vast amount of early history of the early settlers as prepared by him, the meeting passed a resolution thanking him for the efforts he had made in organizing the society and collecting data for its information. It was arranged for the society to hold annual meetings each year in the month of October at the Old Fairgrounds. With some changes in the date, the meetings have since then been regularly held, with an attendance often reaching many thousands, and an interest seldom attained by similar organizations, many coming hundreds of miles to spend the day with old friends. Mr. Brewer, who owned the grounds, appreciated the meetings so much that he made provisions that the right of the Old Settlers should be perpetual on the Old Fairgrounds; hence, when the ground was bought to the school authorities, it was understood and agreed that the school grounds might be used by the association for its annual meetings.

Early in the history of the association the meetings were largely of a reminiscent character, but during the last few years they have assumed more the character of a sporting caravan, and while the attendance is still large, there is some complaint that the original intention of the association has been overlooked to a regrettable extent. We give a partial list of those who have served the association as officers during some of the more recent years: In 1888 we find the president was Solomon Harkey. In 1890 Jacob Whitehead was president and William K. Jackson secretary. Other early data is not at hand. In 1906, John Clotfelter was president and James L. McDavid secretary ; in 1907 L. V. Hill was president and George Seward was secretary; in 1908 L. V. Hill was president and Edgar E. Sawyer was secretary ; in 1909 Jesse O. Brown was president and E. B. Strange was secretary; in 1910 E. B. Strange was president and Harry Hargrave was secretary; in 1911 Frank McLean was president and Harry Hargrave was secretary; in 1912 Isaac Hill was president and Carl Weber was secretary; in 1913 John L. Dryer was president and Carl Weber was secretary; in 1914 the officers were the same as in 1913; in 1915 Thomas M. Jett was president and Carl Weber was secretary; in 1916 Carl Weber was secretary. A careful inspection of the list of members enrolled during the first two years of the society, a list of about two hundred names, shows, so far as the writer knows, less than twenty that are now still with us. It seems but a short time since in 1883 and 1884 when the list of thirty-year residents was made up. How rapidly indeed do the sands of time almost imperceptibly pass away. Since 1884 many hundreds of names of thirty-year residents have been added to the rolls, and as they pass away, others take their place, and the work continues to shed a halo of remembrance over heroes of the early days.

The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Montgomery County - Volume 2 - 1918

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society