FELIX ALVER COLLARD played a conspicuous part in early Fairfield and Bay Creek township history. Fairfield,
log hamlet that had its origin during the Illinois town-lot boom of 1836, was the predecessor of present Pleasant
Hill. The present township of Pleasant Hill was designated in early times as Bay Creek township. Justice Joseph
Hubbard, addressing a communication to William Ross, judge of probate, at Atlas, in December, 1832 (setting forth
the relinquishment of Mary Lewis of her right to administer the estate of her late husband, Samuel H. Lewis), dated
the letter from "Bay Creek Township," on December 22, 1832. There was then no settlement where now is
Felix Alver was the oldest child of John and Lydia (Cannon) Collard. He was a great uncle of Alvin T. Brant of Pittsfield and Mrs. Jennie C. Yokem of Pleasant Hill, who descended directly from Felix's brother, John J. First mention of Felix in the official records of Pike county is found in the Marriage License Register. The marriage license return by Charles Hubbard, the officiating justice, is also among the early archives in the Pike county court house.
Felix A. Collard and Damaris Lewis were married in Bay Creek township March 25, 1832. The record is so certified by Justice Hubbard, who was one of the early comers to that region from Lincoln county, Missouri, and who some four years later joined with three others in founding the town of Fairfield. If Lewis family traditions of the early settlement are correct, Damaris Lewis was married in Pike county a little over a month before her parents, Samuel H. and Mary (Barnett) Lewis, settled in Bay Creek township.
Family traditions fix the Lewis-Barnett-Galloway settlement as of April 28, 1832. James Galloway and his family arrived from Lincoln county on that date. It is possible that family traditions are in error as to the Lewis settlement. The Lewis family may have arrived some time prior to the Galloway settlement. There is in fact some inferential evidence tending to place the Lewis settlement (or possibly their second Pike county settlement) in the 1820s. A biographical sketch of William H. Lewis, published in 1906, dates the Pike county residence of his father, John W. Lewis, from the early 1820s.
John Lewis, son of Samuel H., was born in Missouri Territory in 1813, at the height of the Indian troubles. There is also record of Samuel H. Lewis having sold out in Missouri in the year 1826. On February 6, 1826, Samuel H. Lewis conveyed title (general warranty deed) to Cary Oakley of a part of the northwest quarter of Section 12, township 50, range 1 west, Lincoln county, Missouri.
Felix Collard had a home established on the northeast 40 of Section 7, less than a mile northwest of Stockland, to which he took his bride after the wedding in March, 1832. We may well believe that they occupied a plain log house, as did their neighbors of that day. The young bride, Damaris, not quite 17 when she married Felix, is reputed to have been born near Fairfield, or in what is now Pleasant Hill township, April 2, 1815, indicating that the Lewis family had sojourned in that region, perhaps briefly, before Illinois became a state.
Collard did not formally enter his wild 40 near Stockland until 1833. In that year he entered the 40 from the government, paying $1.25 an acre therefor. In 1834 he sold the 40 to Solomon Yokem and it later passed to the possession of Maxson and Mary E. Lewis.
After selling his 40 near Stockland, Collard entered 80 acres in Section 13, near the Pleasant Hill-Spring Creek line. This 80, the east half of the northwest quarter of Section 13, was entered from the government by Collard in 1834. The grantee's name appears in the record as Phelix A. Collard. On the 80 directly west of Collard lived Harris Speares, who married Eliza Buckaloo, daughter of Eliab. On the 80 directly south of the Collards dwelt Eliza's brother, John Buckaloo, whose first wife was Margaret Collard, who died on this place soon after their settlement there. On the 80 directly east of Collard's, a little later, in 1836, Joseph Barnett established his home. Collard sold his 80 in the east part of the township in 1838, having moved prior to that time into the new town of Fairfield, where he and his brother, John J. Collard, engaged in business on the southwest corner of Block 6, at the corner of Liberty and Washington Streets, in the original eight-block town, up on the bluff. A block south of the Collard corner, at the corner of Bluff and Washington, dwelt Robert Stubblefield and his wife, Rachel, a sister of Felix and John J. Collard.
Felix Collard is identified with the very beginning of what is now Pleasant Hill. It was before him that the founding fathers of Fairfield appeared in June, 1836, and certified the plat of the town for the uses and purposes set forth therein. The founding fathers were Eli and Charles Hubbard, Ezra Dodge and John McMullin. They acknowledged the plat, previously filed by Joseph Hardin Goodin, then county surveyor, and made affidavit as required by law, subscribing same before Felix A. Collard, acting justice of the peace in and for Bay Creek township, appointed to said office by Governor Joseph Duncan, Kentuckian and fifth Illinois governor.
Felix and his brother, John J. Collard, were among the earliest merchants in the town of Fairfield. Records show that they carried a great merchandise line. Among the faded papers pertaining to the estate of John Buckaloo, who died at Fairfield June 7, 1838, is a bill entitled "John Buckaloo, in account with J. J. and F. A. Collard," covering the period from December 25, 1837 to June 4, 1838. Among the items in this bill are the following: "One smoothing iron, 38c; darning and sewing needles, 6c; 1 bonnett, $2; 2 yds. ribband at 12 1/2c; 1 tea pot, 50c; 6yds. calico at 31 1/4c, $1.87; 2 crocks at 12 1/2c; 25c; 2 lbs. sugar at 12 1/2c, 25c." The bill was receipted by the Collard brothers at Fairfield, November 12, 1839.
Felix A. Collard appears to have been a useful and influential member of the early Bay Creek settlement. His name appears in numerous public records of the pioneer period. He was a smithy, an expert mechanic and a worker in wood. Many of his descendants in the old northwest territories became expert mechanics. "This, too," says Victor W. Jones of Seattle, Washington, one of Felix's great grandsons, "points in the direction of his Huguenot ancestry, as the Huguenots were of the artisan class in France, most of them coming from such cities as Rochelle, etc."
In early days on Bay Creek, blacksmithing was much in demand. There were horses and oxen to be shod, wagons to be made and repaired, plows (then spelled ploughs) to be pointed. The village blacksmith was then an important personage, looked up to as a leader.
Felix is said to have learned his trade as a smithy at the forge of his father-in-law, Samuel H. Lewis. He later pursued this vocation in Oregon Territory, to which he removed in 1847. He was also an early coffin-maker in the Bay Creek country. Out of felled sycamores along Bay Creek he made the unembellished caskets that received the bodies of the Bay Creek pioneers.
Coffins were cheap in the days of which we write. Felix Collard charged the estate of Eliab Buckaloo, who died in his hewn log home southeast of Pleasant Hill, near where Bay Creek breaks through the bluffs, February 26, 1844, the sum of $4 for "making a coffin for Eli Buckaloo," a grandson of Eliab and for whom Eliab had been guardian. Collard's bill is among the papers of the estate.
John McMullin, one of the founders and original proprietors of the town of Fairfield, was another of the early coffin makers. His price for adult-sized coffins also appears among the records of the Eliab Buckaloo estate. He made the coffins for Eliab and his wife. His bill reads: "John McMullin, to making coffin (and lumber) for old man $5. Same for old lady $5. By lumber for one coffin $2. Total $8." Indicating that the charge for a coffin was $5, including lumber and making, less $2 if the lumber was furnished by the family.
The Buckaloos, intermarried with the Collards, were prominent in the early settlement. The name is no longer known in this region. The family came to these parts in 1810, along with the early McCoys, McCunes and Harpoles, and made their first settlement on Ramsey Creek, in Missouri, whence they came to the Bay Creek region in Pike county, Illinois, in the 1820s and 1830s. John Buckaloo, son of pioneer Eliab, married Margaret Collard, daughter of Missouri Charles. Margaret died, and John later married Lucinda Elizabeth Firman, and they had a son, Eli Buckaloo. John Buckaloo died in 1838 and on his death bed requested that his father, Eliab, look after the boy and see to his property. Eliab was therefore appointed by the court as Eli's guardian. Eli's mother, widow of John Buckaloo, afterward married Thomas Harlow, and Eli was taken by the Harlows, who attempted to have Eliab Buckaloo removed as guardian, leading in 1839 to one of the exciting lawsuits of early days, wherein Belus Jones, Charles Hubbard, Robert Stubblefield (husband of Rachel Collard), Jesse Zumwalt, Kirgus (Lycurgus) Lewis (brother of Damaris Lewis Collard) and Martha Firman are named in records of the case as witnesses for Buckaloo. Eli, minor child over whom the controversy raged, died in the early 1840s while the case was still in court, preceding his grandfather, Eliab, who died in 1844.
John J. Collard was administrator of the estate of old Eliab Buckaloo, Kentucky pioneer who was one of the original settlers on Ramsey Creek in what is now Pike county, Missouri. The name in old Missouri and Illinois records often appears as "Buckalew" and sometimes as "Burkalew." A number of early Pleasant Hill families intermarried with the family of Eliab. Jonathan C. Turnbaugh, brother of Jacob who married Abigail Collard, married Eliab's daughter, Celia A., whose name appears in the old records as Selah A. Buckaloo. Garrett Buckaloo, son of Eliab, married Julia McCoy, the daughter of Joseph, who with his family settled on Ramsey Creek in Missouri in 1810, along with the Buckaloos. Eliza, daughter of Eliab, married Harris Speares, one of the early free-school trustees in Bay Creek township. John Buckaloo, as already noted, married, first, Margaret Collard, and second, Lucinda Elizabeth Firman. One Buckaloo daughter married William P. Pruett and another married Henry Young. Joseph Buckaloo was another son. Lydia Buckaloo, daughter of Eliab, was the first wife of Samuel P. Zumwalt, Pleasant Hill pioneer and direct descendant of old Jacob Zumwalt of the Fort Zumwalt pioneers on the Missouri border. Samuel P. was a son of pioneer Andrew and Susannah Zumwalt and a brother of David, Jacob, Isaac, Levi, Nathan Heald and Jackson Zumwalt, and of Christina Crow, Cynthia Ann Harpole, Edna Buthram and Sally Brummell and a half brother of William Zumwalt and Elizabeth Zumwalt Null.
The first settlers in Bay Creek township early realized the need of educational facilities for their children. Some time in the summer of 1837 the first steps were taken by a small group of family heads to establish free schools in the township. Pursuant to this idea, the heads of five of these pioneer families, all of them immigrants from Lincoln county, Missouri, were chosen as school trustees, including David Hubbard, Felix A. Collard, James Liles, James Liles, James Galloway and William Steele.
The records of the proceedings of this board of trustees are found in a minute book covering the period from August 4, 1837 to September 3, 1859. It is probably the oldest minute record of the free school system now extant in Pike county. The minutes were doubtless indited with a quill pen and are still legible in their entirety. The book was found by D. E. Bower many years ago when a wooden structure was being removed from the Swainson corner in the town of Pleasant Hill.
The first minutes recorded in this earliest record of free schools in Pike county are here set forth:
"At a meeting of the Trustees of schools in Township 7 S., R. 4 West of the 4th. Principal Meridian, held in the town of Fairfield in the county of Pike, State of Illinois on the 4th day of August in the year of our Lord 1837; present David Hubbard, Felix A. Collard, James Liles, James Galloway and William Steele.
"On motion the Trustees proceeded to the election of a President of the board whereupon David Hubbard was duly elected. On motion the Trustees proceeded to the election of a Treasurer of the School funds for two years from and after the first Monday in July last when Richard Kerr was declared duly elected.
"The Trustees then proceeded to fix the rate of compensation to be allowed to teachers of schools at the sum of two dollars twenty-five cents per quarter of thirteen weeks for each scholar.
"On examination of his qualifications Richard Kerr was employed as teacher of School No. 1 for 1 quarter or thirteen weeks to commence on the 7th day of August instant.
"On examination of his qualifications David Hubbard was employed as teacher of School No. 2 for one quarter or thirteen weeks to commence on the 7th day of August instant.
"On motion the board adjourned until the first Monday in November next. Richard Kerr, Sec. David Hubbard, President."
Richard Kerr, the first free school teacher employed in the township, headed a prominent family at early Stockland. Mr. Kerr and his wife Ruth and their children, coming from Missouri in 1835, located along the bluff road just west of Six Mile on what was later the Perry Wells farm and which is more recently a part of the Max Wells lands. He was a man of great ability. Back in Missouri he was twice elected to the Missouri lower house of the legislature, in 1822 and in 1828. After coming to Illinois he was elected to the legislature of this state in the election of August 6, 1838, his seat being contested later. With him in the House sat Abraham Lincoln, elected from Sangamon county that year. Lincoln and Kerr were Whigs. While on a trip to the state of Texas in 1852, Kerr was seized of yellow fever and died on December 7, that year. Because of the nature of the disease, it was necessary for him to be buried where he died. A monument, however, was erected to his memory in the Wells cemetery at Pleasant Hill.
In his will, of which Perry and Richard Wells were the executors, he bequeathed to the "Methodist Episcopal church at Stockland and to the inhabitants of school district No. 3 (Stockland) two acres of land to include the Stockland school and well and to be so laid off as to have a front on the State Road of at least ten poles." Richard Kerr's children included Zerilda (wife of Richard Wells), Margaret (wife of Bluford Cannon), Mary (wife of William Steele of the above board of school trustees), Elizabeth Jane (first wife of Perry Wells, cousin of Richard), Carolyn (wife of John Duncan), and Patience W. (wife, first, of James Wells, second of Job Smith, third of Aquilla B. McElfresh, her last husband being a Methodist preacher).
David Hubbard, the other teacher employed at this first meeting of the school trustees, was an early Baptist preacher at Martinsburg and Pleasant Hill, continuing to minister to the churches there until 1853 when he went overland with others of the settlement to Oregon Territory. He married as his second wife, August 3, 1840, in Lincoln county, Missouri, Mary (Polly) Little Thurman, a daughter of Lydia Cannon Collard by her second husband, Isaac L. Thurman. They had ten children. The Reverend Mr. Hubbard died at the Dalles, Oregon, in 1868; his wife in 1881.
These were not the first schoolmasters in Pleasant Hill township but were the first under the free school act. Master William Howell taught a subscription term IN A SETTLER'S ABANDONED LOG HOUSE AT THE FOOT OF Bay Creek bluff in the southwest corner of Section 25 as early as the spring of 1828. He charged the parents $2 per scholar per term or quarter. He had 21 scholars from four pioneer families. Master Joe Bailey, Joe Lindley, Dan Malloy, Duke Morris and Joe Hubbard were other early masters preceding the era of free schools. Joseph Hubbard taught in the first schoolhouse erected in the township in 1832. This log school stood near the James Galloway place, south of the breaks of Dry Fork, which empties into Six Mile Creek.
Felix Collard was school trustee until July 1, 1839, when the second election was held and the first board was succeeded by William P. (Paul) Harpole, William Jamison, Thomas Barton (later the father-in-law of John J. Collard), Harris Speares and Henry Ferguson. Felix at some of the trustee meetings served as secretary in the absence of Richard Kerr (absent at the state capital where he was then sitting as member of the lower house from Pike), and on such occasions the minutes are in Collard's hand.
William H. Johnson was the next free school teacher employed, after Richard Kerr and David Hubbard. He was employed November 6, 1837, for School No. 3. Collins B. Daniels succeeded Johnson. On January 7, 1839 the board employed F. A. Collard as teacher of School No. 2 for one quarter. At the meeting on July 1, 1839 Collard's schedule was examined and the Treasurer was thereupon directed to pay him the sum of $24.35. James Galloway served as president pro tem at this meeting. Jacob Capps was employed to teach in the spring of 1840, and on July 6, 1840 we find record of the employment of the first teacher in the township, Mrs. Arretta Berry, wife of Willis F. Berry. The Berrys had come over earlier in the year from Pike county, Missouri, having come originally from Kentucky. Mrs. Berry taught several terms at Stockland. She was the mother of Mrs. Sarah Guiley, Mrs. Lucy Roberts, Mrs. Katherine Dunning, Mrs. Emma Blake, James, Benjamin and John F. Berry.
John J. Collard, younger brother of Felix, was employed as teacher in School No. 2 at the same time Mrs. Berry was employed in No. 1.
On August 2, 1841 the trustees organized by electing David Wilson (husband of Isaphena Collard) president and David Hubbard treasurer. Other newly-elected trustees were James Liles, John Averette, Joseph Hubbard and W. F. Berry.
At this meeting, the board "in accordance with a resolution passed by the citizens of the Township proceeded to appoint Perry Wells, F. A. Collard and James H. Ferguson as examiners of teachers for the Township, any two of whom giving a certificate of his or her qualifications as a teacher shall be entitled to their distributive share of the school fund."
At a meeting of the trustees on the first Saturday in October, 1841, J. J. Collard was elected to "take census of the children on the south side of the line between Section 16 and 21 and F. A. Collard was elected to take census of children in the following described bounds: all east of the State road that runs from Fairfield to Pittsfield, and Joseph Hubbard to take the census of the children of the balance of the Township."
Collard later was again elected school trustee and was president of the trustee board just before he left for Oregon Territory in 1847.
In these brief glimpses into the early record book we learn something of the beginning of free schools in this region. We find, too, that the characters of our history were among the founders and promoters of free schools.
Felix A. Collard was prominent in pioneer politics, as was his brother, John J. He was a Democrat and had more than one political skirmish with the Ross Whigs of his day. He was an early justice of the peace in his township, the office of justice in those days being of far greater importance than it is today. In the exciting election of August 1, 1842, when Thomas Ford, Democrat, beat Joseph Duncan, Whig candidate for governor, by only 12 votes in Pike county, Felix A. Collard was one of the three Democratic candidates for the lower house of the General Assembly. The vote for representatives was: William Blair, Democrat, 1187; Alexander Starne, Democrat, 1085; Felix A. Collard, Democrat, 855; Benjamin D. Brown, Whig, 1148; Benjamin B. Metz, Whig, 1056; John Troutner, Whig, 835, Blair, Starne and Brown were elected.