This photo was taken on April 30, 1889 nearly two years after this wedding anniversary
John R. Hillhouse age 62, Robert S. Hillhouse age 65, James Dobbins Hillhouse age 74, Elijah B. Hillhouse age 76
Mary Caroline Boucher age 62 and Jane Springer age 81


Meeting of Some of the Original Settlers of Lawrence County

~~ Fountain & Journal September 22, 1887

We would ask the readers to let their minds run back to days of long ago when what is now known as the Great Southwest was as dense wilderness filled with wild animals, with only here and there a home, which consisted of a rude log cabin erected without the assistance of a nail or plane, and a few acres cleared around the cabin to raise corn. These cabins were often many miles apart and frequently the neighbors lived ten and twelve miles apart.

For instance at the 'raising' of the first house (log of course) for J. D. Hillhouse, the four men who 'took up the corners' lived 12 miles apart. D. F. Gibson and Blackburn Woods were two of them. Fifty years ago there was not a town within the limits of Lawrence County; nor scarcely a church or schoolhouse. The ring of a church bell had never disturbed the stillness among these eternal hills …

That the country was then very wild, we only have to refer as evidence to a short conversation with 'Uncle Lige' Hillhouse on the 50th anniversary of 'Uncle Dob' and 'Aunt Nancy's' wedding, while standing in the yard. 'Uncle Lige' said "Right up there was where I had my wolf trap, where I caught wolves and wild cats." He pointed into the corner of the field only a few yards away and went on to relate several incidences and remarked that a short distance west of the trap he once killed two deer at one spot with a rifle gun. The howl of the wolf as well as his depredations were of nightly occurrence.

Then the sound of the steam whistle had never been heard; the reap hook occupied the place of the twine binder today. The mail by horseback in the letters that were often six weeks coming from Giles County, Tennessee instead of the railroad of now. The flail was used instead of the steam thresher of this time. Then the public road was only a trail through the woods from one house to another, for at that time this country was the west side of 'away out west'. At the time we write about (1837) this was all Barry County.

On the morning of September 14, 1887, we, according to previous arrangement, arrived at the residence of J. D. Hillhouse (Uncle Dob) on Honey Creek about six miles southwest of Mt. Vernon. On this homestead Uncle Dob and Aunt Nancy have spent the entire fifty years of their married life and during that time have never used as a beverage a glass of whiskey and have never consumed a half pound of tobacco. What an example to the youth of the present day and how persistently the youth have determined not to heed the example of these honorable pioneers.

J. D. Hillhouse was married to Nancy Gibson on the 19th day of September, 1837, hence the gathering we are now writing about was the 50th Anniversary of their marriage and it was an anniversary that will be remembered and talked about when many other years have gone into the day book of 'old father time.'

Assembled at this 50th Anniversary were all the brothers and sisters, we believe, of the aged couple, except one brother of Mrs. Hillhouse and he was in a distant land. J. D. Hillhouse is now 72 years old and his wife is 68. He is very stout and lively for a man of that age. Mrs. Hillhouse has been in poor health for a considerable time. They were the parents of 7 children, 5 boys two living and 2 girls on living; their grandchildren number 31 and 6 great grandchildren making a total offspring of 50.

Not far from 11 o'clock the people were called together at a stand erected a short distance north of the residence in a pleasant grove of young trees …

The object of the meeting was explained by J. F. Hargrove, who at the request of Uncle Dob acted as chairman [here follows singing and prayer] … after the song an address of welcome was delivered by Uncle Dob, Aunt Nancy also appearing upon the stand at his side. The address was one of those that go in the heart more because of the manner of delivery than because of the words, for Uncle Dob said the singing of that old song [How Firm A Foundation] has sung his speech away, but it had only increased the earnestness of the welcome given by him to all present. A response was delivered by Rev. W. H. Wilson, that was well timed and appropriate.

Dinner was then announced and we here say that its equal we never witnessed before. We acknowledge that our poor language has not power sufficient to do justice to the occasion hence we will just say that there was enough and to spare and all were happy.

After dinner several short speeches were made by relatives and friends, to wit: Elijah Hillhouse, John R. Hillhouse, Gib Hillhouse, James Moore, W.A. McCanse, J.F. Hargrove and John H. Woods. After the ceremonies were closed a line formed of the relatives of Mr. And Mrs. Hillhouse and counted, which showed there present 178 persons related to one or the other of the aged couple. We would here state that all the Hillhouse and Gibson families now in the county originated from George Hillhouse and George Gibson of Giles County, Tennessee. They both died in 1833. Religiously nearly all the Hillhouses are Cumberland Presbyterians and almost the same may be said of the Gibsons.

Elijah B. Hillhouse, brother of Uncle Dob, gave us a short sketch of his family; He married a Gibson also. Came to Missouri from Giles County, Tennessee June, 1836. His own family consisted, we believer of 10 children, 8 boys and two girls some of them not now living. 36 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. He is now 74 years old and his wife 67. He lived on one farm all the time.

We would here say that the Aurora Cornet Band furnished splendid music of the occasion.

It is known by many of our readers that Turnback Creek takes its name from an incident, which in substance about as follows: When in the early days several families coming into this new country had camped on the creek and had also become thoroughly disgusted with the wilderness and there turned back toward the old home in Tennessee. Two of the children were on the ground on the 14th. Then there were the daughters of Daniel Beal, whose wife was a sister of D. E. Gibson but now they were Martha Perkins, wife of W. G. Perkins, near Brookline and Demertha [Demaris] Hillhouse, wife of John P. Hillhouse.

In all probability D. E. Gibson has been in the county longer that anyone else on the ground, his arrival dating from the year 1831, but we noticed many others who have grown gray in Lawrence County, among them were W. B. Allen, Golly Hugh Moore, Jerard Ryker, W. A. McCanse, J. H. Woods, Allen Hammer, Aunt Ann Young, John R. Hillhouse, R.S. Hillhouse, J.W. Curtis, W.K. Gibson, James Gibson and others whose names we failed to get on our memorandum book.

While we have spent a life time in the newspaper business we were never before called upon to report the proceedings of the reunion of a family or families that state more honorable among their neighbors, and here state as an incident that applies to many others of the generation; it is this that there are four brothers of the older Hillhouse family and not one of them was ever sued or had a law suit in life.


reprinted with permission from -

The Lawrence County Historical Society
PO Box 406
Mount Vernon, Missouri 65712