Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lukin in 1852 by Henry Cunningham

Ed Note:  Many of you purchased our book, Letters Home 1915-1919.  Made up of letters written to the Editor from readers of the Sumner Press we fondly refer to it as the Pink Letters, because that annual edition of the paper was printed on pink newsprint paper. The Pink Letters Editions continued for some time, and were not just unique to Lawrence County.  Other newspapers also printed their own version of Letters Home.   

This is a letter from Henry Cunningham, age 89,  published in the 1925 Pink Letter Edition.

Sumner Press
Special Pink Letter Edition
March 26, 1925

Corona, California

To the Editor and my dear old friends and neighbors of the long-ago, and the readers of the Pink Press:

...Well I do remember the time in 1852 when my father and stepmother, and brothers,  left the good old home in Ohio and came to Illinois, a place generally as good and we thought a little better, where we settled down in Lukin, 8 miles south of Sumner on the place known as the Snider farm. It was an old place and pretty well run down, the fences badly wrecked, some of the fields grown up with sassafras bushes, so us boys had plenty to do, grubbing them out and splitting rails to repair the fences.

 It was not a case of all work and no play for father gave us time to go hunting and I have thought maybe he gave us too much time for our own good. All through the 50s and 60s the woods was full of deer, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, coons and possums, pheasants, quails and doves, and no game laws...

When we first went there people could get more than half their living off the woods. Our hogs got fat on the mast, our sheep and cattle pastured in the woods, and we could kill a deer or turkey or small game just for the shooting and in summer the woods was full of the finest blue grapes (winter grapes too) and plums, persimmons and paw paws, and hickory nuts, walnuts, butternuts and hazelnuts just for the gathering. I suppose it is quite different now since the woods are mostly cleared out, and so many notices up "No hunting on this farm."

We had good times and I could tell the boys some good hunting stories, of coon hunts and fox chases. I guess I will never get over being a boy.

I would like to visit Sumner once more, since you have made so many improvements and got your hard roads, but I suppose I would feel like a stranger in a strange land, for I would not meet more than half a dozen people I ever knew; my two brothers B. L. and J. C.; Thomas Hoopes, Lizzy Jones, Mary Brian and possibly a few others, that I knew when they were young.

Your friend 
Henry Cunningham


            The Lawrence County Historical Society will hold its monthly program meeting on Monday, October 24, at 7:00 p.m., at the History Center on the corner of 12th and State Streets in Lawrenceville.  Ryan Cox, minister at Pleasant Ridge Christian Church, will be the guest speaker.  A former high school history teacher, Cox will discuss how events in Europe resulted in the migration of a family whose descendants helped to found Pleasant Ridge in 1834, and 180 years later, continue to be active members of the congregation.

            The meeting free and open to the public.