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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory

Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon, Illinois
December, 1960

Page B-1

Mr. and Mrs. Goaley Hopkins Reporting....

James Hopkins, grandfather of Goaley, lived a short distance south of Belle Rive.  One night in 1865 he was awakened by his trusty dog, and running outside saw some men with either eight or nine horses.  He went back to bed but could not go to sleep; and a short time before daybreak the sheriff and a deputy from Washington County, Illinois, called at his home and inquired if he had seen any men with horses pass.  He told them he had, and the sheriff ordered him to be deputized and go with them on their hunt for the horses.  They started west and later that day found the horses in a wooded section close to a creek near the Hamilton-Jefferson County line.  The sheriff left one deputy with the horses and he and James Hopkins made a search for the thieves.  They were unable to find the men that had stolen them, but the sheriff got the horses delivered back to their owners.  The owners of the horses all lived in the same vicinity.

Mrs. Goaley Hopkins reports a strange event which occurred in the early days of the community.  Her grandmother, Ann Sursa, went to the store and left her three children at home.  Like many families of that day, the family had a barrel of sorghum.  Before Mrs. Sursa returned home the eldest girl, Mary, climbed on top of the lid of the barrel, which was sitting close by a window, to see if her mother were in sight.  The top of the barrel caved in, dropping Mary down in the barrel of sorghum.  The other children were unable to pull her out of the barrel, and there she stayed till Mrs. Sursa got home.  We can all imagine the job of leaning that occupied Mrs. Sursa for quite time after Mary was rescued from her sweet place of confinement! 

Page B-1 continued.

Charles Yates Reporting....

Joseph Yates came from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to Thierry Hill, north east of Dahlgren, about 1820 if not before.  He walked there from Hopkinsville at the age of sixteen.  He hewed timber and made a log cabin for his new home.  He spent all of the remainder of his life as a farmer.  He life was relatively short, as he died in his early thirties.  He was married to a lady named Campbell.  When he died he left five children, and his wife died about a year later.  They had three girls and two boys.

Eli R. Yates, grandfather of Charles Yates and eldest son of Joseph Yates, was born in 1834.  He was married to Martha Shelton of that vicinity.  Eli, like his father, hewed out some timber and built a cabin for himself and his family.  Eli and Martha Yates reared a family of four boys and three girls.

Isam R. Yates was born in the east part of Jefferson County, in Moores Prairie Township.  His birth was on October 10, 1863.  (The letter "R" was quite popular with several generations of the Yates  family.  The "R" stood for "Riley" and the word was used as a middle name for five straight generations).  Isam Yates was the father of sixteen children by three marriages, five children dying in infancy.  Isam Yates and his father Eli operated a surface coal mine near Dahlgren for twenty years.  The mine was inside the boundaries of Jefferson County.

Eli Yates assisted in the construction of both the Southern and the L & N railroad.  About the turn of the century, the family recalls that there was a derailment of the freight train on the L & N track about half way between Belle Rive and Dahlgren.  A large number of mules were being shipped, and many of them were injured and killed; some of the mules that did not die in the wreck were so badly injured that they had to be killed shortly after the derailment occurred.  A large quantity of potatoes and ham were affected and had to sold to people in the nearby communities.  A large amount of coffee was also in transit and much of it also was sold to local people.

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