1929 - Mrs Millie SEAMAN RODGERS Heard Mr.
Make His Speech in Carlinville, Macoupin County IL
©2001 M Trover
Mrs. Millie SEAMAN RODGERS, One of Our Well-known Citizens, Remembers Hearing Lincoln and Douglas in Their Speeches in 1858 - Owns Printed Confession of Aaron TODD.
Friday evening, we called on Mrs. Millie Seaman Rodgers, who resides on First South Street near the C. & A. depot. This venerable woman is now 85 years of age and though unable to leave her bed on account of an accidental fall over two years ago, she is in perfect health and does not look any older than many people at 65. Mrs. Rodgers is of a very happy disposition and takes her infirmities philosophically and looks on the bright side of life.
We learn from this noble woman that she was present when Abraham Lincoln delivered his speech on what is now the Methodist church grounds in Carlinville. At that time her mother, Mrs. Nancy McWain, conducted a hotel across the street, opposite from Gustav Heinz' residence. As a little girl, she went up to listen to Lincoln a few minutes and then went back to the hotel as they had to keep a watch on the place to take care of any traveling men that might come in. She says there was a large crowd present to hear Mr. Lincoln. A high platform had been built among the trees and brush as all the ground was laying out at that time. Louis McWain conducted a grocery store south of the Dubois bank at that early period, and the county had a jail constructed of logs, located just south of the Weiss hardware store.
Mrs. Rodgers was present when Stephen A. Douglas spoke in the Welton grove, west of town. The Little Giant, as he was known at that day, made one of his great speeches, but according to Mrs. Rodgers, an incident happened that cut the program. She says that in a fight a man by the name of John Duff had his eye knocked out. The trouble arose over politics. It will be remembered that within two years before the war broke out, sentiment among the people was approaching a fever heat.
There are five generations in the Rodgers family, and her father was in both the Mexican and Civil Wars. She can tell about how all the merchandise for Carlinville was brought here with ox teams in the days before the railroad was completed to Carlinville. She remembers well when the first train, consisting of an engine and caboose, came over the new railroad to our city. She says her grandfather Louis McWain, gave $1,500 to secure the railroad. She also talks about going to school in the first school building in Carlinville which was afterwards moved and is now a part of Patrick McDonald's residence. Her teacher in that ancient school building was Don Cameron, another one of the pioneers of Macoupin County.
Her mother, Nancy McWain Seaman, was baptized by Rev. Stith Otwell and she attended church in what is now a part of the place known as the Keeler residence on First North Street. In those days, Mrs. Rodgers says there were no entertainments. The people all went to church and after services, returned to their homes and would not be present at any other kind of gatherings until they go to church the next Sunday. Her father (Sylvanus Seaman), in those early days, was a stage driver between St. Louis and Springfield.
Among Mrs. Rodgers' relics is the printed confession of Aaron TODD, who was the first man executed in Macoupin County, which was on the 2nd day of June, 1840 for the murder of Larkin Scott Jr. The pamphlet was printed in 1840 by Walters & Webber, printers, of Springfield, Ill. On the title page of the pamphlet is a cut of a coffin. The confession was read and subscribed in the presence of Dr. W. A. Robertson, Rev. Jacob Bower, Andrew J Wallace, Rev Loren S. Williams, James B. Wallace, and Stith M. Otwell, and the subscribing witnesses to Todd's signature were Stith M. Otwell, Loring S. William, and William A. Robertson.
One of the last paragraphs says,"I can never express my thanks to the kind praying friends of Carlinville and especially to David McDaniel, the jailer, who has treated me more like a brother than a stranger, and who has so kindly waited on the ministers of this place, Messrs. Chamberlain, Williams and J. B. Woolard and others who have instructed me in the way of salvation."
Asst County Coordinator Kathleen Mirabella
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