History Loomis House, Chesterfield - 19 Mar 1999 - Macoupin County Illinois
©1999 Sue McMurry

January 9, 1901
J. W. and C. J. Lumpkin, Publishers


Judge T. L. Loomis handed us a letter today received from his brother, Horace J. Loomis, of Pueblo, Colorado in which after speaking of his heath, family, etc. he drops into a reminiscent vein, and gives an account of the building of the house and barn on his father's old place southeast of Chesterfield in 1844 and 1845, and also gives the names of the men present at the raising of the large barn, all of whom except he and his brother, T. L. of this city, he thinks have passed to the Great Beyond. We think of one and only one other whom he names as still living, unless he has died within the last few weeks, and that is Benjamin J. Dorman, now a resident of the state of Texas.

With the consent of Judge Loomis we publish these reminiscences, knowing that they will interest our readers, especially the older ones.

One of the oldest, if not the oldest, inhabited houses in Chesterfield prairie is the old Loomis house, one mile southeast of Chesterfield. The house was erected in 1844 by John Lewis for Horace Loomis who moved there March 1st, 1845 from his old residence on what is now known as the old George Jackson place, two miles east of Chesterfield: The house after weathering the storms of fifty-six years, is a good house yet and if kept in repair may still be standing when the twentieth century dawns, and for service is worth a dozen modern balloon frames. The house is nearly all oak, the frame of hewn white oak, the sills ten inches square, and the whole frame of hewn timber and braced at all corners and is so solid that a modern cyclone could not faze it if it rolled it over a few times..

The weatherboarding is of Overcup oak boards rived out of large timber and handshaved. The lath is also of split oak and the shingles were of oak and walnut shaved by hand. The floors were of sawed oak and the sheeting. The only pine about the building are the door and window frames and sash, and were all made by the carpenter, heavy to correspond with the whole house. In the days when this house was erected carpenters were only paid from seventy-five cents to one dollar a day. The house was built by contract, without material, for $160, and the contractor probably about made wages and no more as none of the work was slighted and was first-class throughout, considering the material. The house was 18x36 ft. with ten-foot porch on the south full length. It has been added to and altered inside many times, but the original frame has not been disturbed and is probably as solid as it was when first finished.

The old barn was erected the following spring (1845) but the timber and foundation was hauled the fall and winter before. The frame, like the house is all of hewn timber, mostly of oak and very heavy, the sills being 14 inches square, and much of the rest of the frame is from 10 to 12 inches square with but very few splices in them. It is the best frame I ever saw, and when erected there was not a misfit, not even a pin hole wrong and every tennant fit in its proper ?????????. The frame, if properly protected, should last several hundred years. The shingles, like the ones on the house, were of shaven oak and walnut. The floor and sheeting were oak sawed at Holliday's old water mill on the Macoupin creek, now in Polk township. The siding and doors of the barn are pine and was hauled from Alton, there being no railroads in those days. The barn is 58x68 feet on the ground. The main floor is 34x24 and was used for a threshing floor for tramping out grain with horses before the advent of threshing machines.

The raising of this building was no small job and took the united force of the whole neighborhood for many miles around. Everybody in those days considered it a duty as well as a privilege to attend a raising, and a man would consider it an insult if not invited by his neighbor to assist him in raising his barn or house. A good, square dinner and something to drink were expected. The five gallon jug of whiskey was lacking in this instance, but a large barrel of small beer or pop was substituted which seemed to be relished without any bad effects following.

Of all those present at this raising you and I are the only ones living that I know of. The rest have passed over the river to their long home, and I trust, a happy one, for most of them were good and noble men, "the noblest work of God."I think I can recall to mind nearly all of them. There was William Woods, John Lumpkin, James Rafferty and his two sons, James and Joseph; Josiah Whipple, J. R. Grout, Joshua Goodell, Z. B. Lawson. Sidney, Jesse and William Kirk, John and Thomas Kendall, Sam Hullet, Wm. Reams, Miles Misenhammer; Mahurin and his sons, John and Stephen; Sinet Jarvis, Henry Rusher, John Surgi, William Duckels, Robert Carter, John Thornton, Thorp and Peter Wright, J. R. Cundall, Capt. Gelder and his father, Esquire Roach and his son; John; Jacob Kellar, Ad Loper, - Holbrook, John Morris, John Dews, Bird and Jesse Peebles, Samuel Peebles, Isam Peebles, Barton Peebles, William Peebles, John Scutt, E. Upham, Aaron Tilly; Richard Smith and his sons, Huriah, Joshua and Hezekiah; Paschal Reader, John Keller, Robert Fox, John Lewis, James Hopson; Amos, Charles and Henry Goodsell; Thomas Leach and his son, Thomas; William, Eli, Elisha, Samuel and Benjamin Dorman; John Kirby, J. P. Bachelder; McAlister and Robert Holiday.

This barn at that time was probably the largest in the county and was the first one built in that neighborhood, unless it was a small log structure. The timbers of this barn if sawed into the size put into buildings of that description now-a-days would make several balloon barns such as we see through the country which a small cyclone would scatter on a neighboring farm. I have not the date of the barn raising but think it was in April, 1845. My memory is that John Lewis was to build the barn for $300, do all the hauling and father furnish teams. Am I right? Lewis lost money on the job, but father made up the loss to him so that he could make $1.00 a day.

Chesterfield Township

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