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2013 Cemetery Walk - Paul Edwards (1889-1924) - portrayed by Rick Moore.
Hello. I am Paul Edwards. My monument here says that I was born in 1889 and died in 1924. I was born and raised on the family farm south of McLeansboro, served my country in France in World War I, came back in one piece, got married, went to work for the Post Office, had a son, and then but wait, I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Before I go any further, let me tell you about the history of our family whose story is pretty typical of many of the early settlers of the area. Maybe it's the story of your family too.
Thomas Edwards, my Grandfather, was born in North Carolina in 1822 and when he was three years old, his family moved to southeast Tennessee. There he grew to adulthood, married, had two boys, and after twenty-five years, pick up his family and moved lock, stock, and barrel to Hamilton County, Illinois.
They arrived in November of 1849. Federal Land Office records show that in 1852 they bought forty acres about a mile south of Hoodville or four and a half miles south of McLeansboro. The Shawneetown to McLeansboro road ran through this property and they built their two-room log cabin on the west side of the road and there they lived and raised their family, which now included an additional son and daughter, for the next twenty years.
This Shawneetown to McLeansboro road was laid out by Thomas Sloo Jr. in 1821, soon after Hamilton County was split off from White County at the behest of the new county commissioners. In the years that followed, the Edwards' prospered and bought additional land from the Government and from neighbors.
When the Civil War began in 1862, Thomas signed up, mustering in as First Lt. of Company G, 56th Illinois Volunteer Infantry at Shawneetown. So we see that a man born in a slave state, North Carolina, and a man who lived for nearly twenty-five years in Tennessee, a slave state, moved to Illinois, a free state, and ten years later was fighting with the Union Army against slavery. Many southerners moved north to get away from slavery and the Edwards may have been among them.
So Thomas, at 39 years old, went off to war and left his wife Margaret and four children, the oldest of which was 16 years old, to run a busy farm. Thomas' unit, the 56th Illinois, went on to participate in many battles, including Fort Donelson, Corinth, Vicksburg, Missionary Ridge, Atlanta and on to the sea, as they say. At some point, Thomas was wounded, came back home to recuperate, and when able, rejoined his comrades in arms.
After the war, he came home and resumed farming. In 1871, what became the L&N Railroad, a spur that ran from McLeansboro to Shawneetown, was built just east of the farmstead, and in 1872, the Edwards built a large two-story brick home on the east side of and facing the old road. It was directly across the road from the original log cabin. The bricks were made and fired on site.
A letter from the railroad a few years later complains that Thomas' cattle were getting on the tracks and interfering with the train's operation and states that the railroad will buy the posts and fencing if Thomas will erect a fence, which he did.
In 1852, the Edwards were among those who organized Mary's Chapel Methodist Church, which was a couple of miles west of their homestead.
In 1881, at the relatively young age of 59, Thomas passed away. Margaret joined him five years later, and they are buried in Mary's Chapel cemetery.
My father was George K. Edwards and was the 16-year-old who became the man of the house when his father went off to fight in the Civil War. He was born in Tennessee in 1846. He graduated from McKendree College in Lebanon in 1872, published the McLeansboro Times newspaper for awhile but mostly engaged in teaching.
During the 1870's and early 1880's, he was teaching and serving as principle of schools in Kansas, Colorado, and Montana. He traveled widely in the west and often spoke and lectured on life and religion. After Thomas died in 1881, he returned to the family farm. He married Ada Daily in 1885 and died in 1925 at the age of 79. He is buried here in IOOF.
Finally, we're back to me. I grew up on the family farm, attended Ewing College for a couple of years around 1910 and when World War I began in 1917, I enlisted and served 13 months in France. I was lucky and survived without being wounded or gassed. In 1922, I was lucky again and was married to Effie King of the Blooming Grove area north of McLeansboro. I began working as a rural mail carrier for the Post Office in McLeansboro on Route 9.
Early in August of 1924, our son was born and life was going very well. Going into the last week of that same August, I developed a sore throat which continued to worsen over the next few days. We lived on South Jackson Street and Dr. Hall had his hospital just a block east of us, so on August 29th about midnight, I walker over there and he gave me a shot. I was soon feeling much better and went to bed. About 3:30 a.m., Effie checked on me and found that I was dead. The shot was just too strong. I was only 35 years old.
Joyce and Don Dailey live today on the original 40 acres of land that Thomas Edwards bought in 1852, and very near the site of the original log cabin. Joyce is the great-granddaughter of Thomas and Margaret Edwards.