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2013 Cemetery Walk - Sarah A. Leslie (1862-1934) - portrayed by Anna Shelton.




Sarah Alice Hooker Leslie
Portrayed by Anna Shelton

Hello everyone. My name is Sarah Alice Hooker Leslie, but everyone calls me by my middle name "Alice." I was born 151 years ago in 1862 in Hamilton County and I've lived here all my life. I passed away in 1934 at the ripe age of 72. I lost my dear Joe just five months before I passed.

My parents were McAllister and Elizabeth Cottingham Hooker. My dad was called by the nickname "Mac." Both Dad and Mom were born in Henderson County, Ky. They came to Illinois in 1857 with their respective families. What a trip that must have been - crossing the Ohio River by ferry and traveling up the Goshen Trail to Hamilton County. It must have been quite an adventure.

My parents started courting and were married here in Hamilton County in 1858. My grandparents and my parents were farmers. In 1861, my grandfather, Ephraim Cottingham, died at the young age of 44 and left my grandmother Mary with 11 children still at home and one on the way.

My parents who lived next door, helped out and some of my uncles hired out as farm hands. Then in 1862, the Civil War broke out and Dad enlisted and served until the end of the war. One last little bit on my parents, around 1900 Dad had an apple orchard out where McLeansboro Lake is now, and raised prize-winning apples. We were really proud of that!

In 1880, I married Joseph William Leslie. Joe's parents were Thomas Sr. and Nancy Peck Leslie. Thomas Sr. donated the land for the Union Hall Presbyterian Church and cemetery west of McLeansboro. Joe's older brother, James F. Leslie, was on the first faculty of Hamilton College.

Yes, we had a college here for awhile. It was established in 1874 and classes were held in the upper story of the Methodist Church. A movement was started which tried to raise funds to build a new building for the school. Land was offered as a donation, but enough funds couldn't be raised, and in 1880, the college was disbanded. The last diploma issued was to J. B. Kinnear, an author of one of Hamilton County's history books.

Joe and I had six children. We lost little Nellie and Harry as babies. Our other children were Anna, Gracie, Edward and Virgil.

In 1902, Joe's youngest brother, Thomas Jr. and his family took pneumonia. Thomas died and five hours later, his little daughter, Hazel, died. They were buried in the same grave. One year later, Thomas's wife passed away, leaving a little five-year-old son, Everard, without either parent. Joe and I took in little Everard and raised him as our own to manhood. He later moved to California, where he lived out his days.

As a child, I became a member of Mary's Chapel Church and remained a member there for about 60 years.

Joe and I raised our family on a farm in Knights Prairie. On our passing, we left 19 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren to carry on our legacy of devotion to friends and family.