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Champaign County, Illinois

"Sadorus House Was 'Home' to Lincoln"

from Decatur Review

Sunday, February 24, 1924

Interesting Details About First Frame Dwelling In County, From Grandson of Builder

That old Sadorus house over near Sadorus, one of the early landmarks, will not down. That is, while it already has been torn down, it still is a live issue.

The inadvertent insertion of the little word "l-o-g" in a recent Review story of the hold house, which was claimed to be the earliest house built in that section of the country, has provoked considerable interesting discussion. Additional facts concerning the house, which stood for many years near Sadorus, embraces practically what was said of it in the first place, except that they correct the mistaken impression that it was a log house.


The latest word concerning the house comes in a letter to The Review from H. W. Sadorus, a resident of that community, who writes from California, where he is spending the winter.


It is as follows:

"San Pedro, Cal., Feb. 14, 1924.

"To the Editor of The Decatur Review, Greetings:

"As I have been reading the descriptions of the old Sadorus so-called log house, I rather think they are not entirely correct, as I have lived in Champaign county longer than any other man, dead or alive, as I was born within one mile of the old house. I was born on the first day of April, 1840, and have made that my home ever since that time.

"To give a correct statement I will go back to the beginning of the family. I will give it as I got it from my father, William Sadorus. Grandfather came to the United States about 1800, and settled in Pennsylvania. In 1810 he married a girl by the name of Mary Titus, at Titusville in that state, and when the war of 1812 started, Grandfather enlisted in the army and was up on the lakes fighting the English, and while he was up there my father was born, July 4, 1812.


"They stayed there until 1822, when they started for the West and got over into the state of Indiana, where they stayed two years. There they got acquainted with a family named Smith. They were of the Mormon faith. Mr. Smith was the Joe Smith who later was killed over at Nauvoo, Ill., several years ago.

"They wanted Grandfather to go with them to Bloomington, Ill., where there was a Mormon settlement at that time. So they started for there in April, 1824, and got as far as what is now Sadorus Grove, on April 23, 1824.


"There was a good spring close to where John Nogle's house how stands. There came up a heavy rain that night and raised the streams, so that they could not travel for several days. Then they got to looking over the country and Grandfather said: 'I believe I will stop here.' They looked around a little and decided to take up claims there.

"When it quit raining they found that land had been laid out in sections, so Grandfather and Smith went up to Danville, Ill., where there was a land office and Smith filed a claim on the northeast quarter of section 1 in Sadorus township, while Grandfather filed on the southeast quarter of section 1.


"They broke up some ground and planted some corn, but Smith didn't have very good luck with his, so that fall Smith told my father if he would take a team and help him move to Bloomington, he (Smith) would sign his claim over to him. So he did.


"That year Grandfather built a log house about 100 yards north of the spring and set out a big apple orchard north of his house. For many years it was one of the finest orchards in that part of the state. But it is like the old Sadorus family, it is played out.

"Grandfather had six children, three boys and three girls -- William, Allen M. and Henry T. were the boys. The oldest girl married a man by the name of John Jordan. They came to California in 1849. One married Samuel Suvers, near Monticello, Ill. The third daughter was the wife of John P. Tenbrook, ex-county judge.


"So that settled the family until 1834, when Grandfather wanted a frame house. So they hewed the sills, upright posts, girts, plates, joists and rafters out of the timber, and hauled some rough lumber from Indiana.

"But all the rest of the house was hauled from Chicago with ox-teams. It was the finest house in the county for many years and headquarters for all travelers for several years.


"That house was a stopping place for travelers a good many years, and a stopping place for A. Lincoln when he was practicing law in Urbana.

"My father was called on a jury or had business of his own about every term of court, and I have heard Lincoln plead several cases. My father took him on most of his trips.

"I was in hopes that we could hold a reunion at this house on the 23rd of April this year, as that will be 100 years since they settled on that land.

"I expect to return to Illinois about the first of April if it warms up back there by that time. It is warm and pleasant out in this part of the country; but very little rain, and always clear.

"Yours with best regards,

H. W. Sadorus"

Submitted by Jeanne Varnell

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