Forty years before the
American Revolution, a group of Highland Scots came to America and
settled in Washington County in eastern New York. They were hardy,
independent and accustomed to carrying arms; the type of immigrant
especially important to the colonial governors who needed protection
from the Indians and French along with expanding borders. Their grant of
land, consisting of some 40 square miles, lay east of the Hudson River
in the foothills of the Green Mountains. The country was then an
unbroken wilderness without roads. The only means of travel was on foot
In the years 1738, 1739,
and 1740, Captain Campbell brought 472 prospective settlers to the same
frontier. Alexander McNaughton in 1764 brought a large number of
colonists to a nearby area known as the Argyle Patent which contained
47,450 acres. That same year, a group of Ulster-Scots, many related to
persons already residing in the area, came from Pelham, Massachusetts.
In 1764, the Reverend Dr.
Thomas Clark brought his entire Presbyterian congregation of about 300
Ulster Scots. This is said to be the only ecclesiastical body that came
here as an entirety, with no break in their religious services. These
colonists possessed a strong bond in their allegiance to the
Presbyterian Church and through inter-marriage the ties of kinship had
become even closer. Their lives centered around the church and the
local church school. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War many of
the men took up arms for independence.
In the center of the
Argyle community, near Cossayuna, New York, lived George Beveridge and
his wife, Ann Hoy. Their white clapboard house was home for seven
children. After a century of settlement, the Beveridges came to believe
that Washington County was no longer the land of opportunity. Land, once
almost free, had become very expensive. The future for their children
lay in the new world beyond the Alleghenies. After much prayer, thought
and discussion, it was decided that this middle-aged father and his 14
year old son would go on the long journey westward in search of new
In 1838, George Beveridge
took a pair of stout horses, loaded his wagon with woolen cloth, and
traveled across New York, Ohio and Indiana. It was a journey of one
thousand miles that finally brought him to the village of Chicago.
Leaving Chicago, his face still towards the west, he took the
newly-opened stage road leading toward the lead mines of Galena. Sixty
miles west of Chicago, he came to a log cabin where the stage coach ran
before its door. It had been the first white mans house in DeKalb
County. Before retiring for the night, Mr. Beveridge had traded what
remained of his woolen cloth, together with his wagon and horses, for
the cabin with squatters rights to 400 acres along either side of the
stream. It would be a year before he returned to the mountains of
Washington County for his wife and children.
There is something
valiant and courageous in the picture of this middle-aged pair, planning
to break with all the traditions of life as they knew it, to leave their
comfortable house and a lifetimes associations to set out for a new
country, a veritable wilderness to their eyes, and begin as pioneers at
a time of life when they might have thought only of rest and surcease
Finally all was in
readiness and in the month of May, 1842, the Beveridge family set out on
their pilgrimage. The party consisted of the parents and four
unmarried children, the youngest being Agnes who was just thirteen. Also
in the party was an older daughter Isabel and her husband William
French. Jennett, the oldest child, who was married to James Henry was
left behind, as was also the second son, Andrew. He was about to enter
Jefferson College at Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. This time the Beveridges
made use of the canal and traveled the Great Lakes. The journey took
When they finally reached
Somonauk, Illinois, it was raining. The mud was deep and black.
The log house was leaking. The next morning, John Beveridge found his
mother weeping as if her heart was breaking. As she cried, she said
she could never live here. She had come from the land where she was born
and where she had lived fifty-four years...to a new land to dwell among
strangers, from a comfortable home where she had raised her family, into
a poor log house on the frontier of civilization.
Three years later she
returned to Washington County, N.Y., for a visit, strange to say, she
was glad to return to her log house, and she never regretted the change
in her life.
The log house was built
of rough logs, chinked and daubed with clay, with puncheon floors and
shale roof, consisting of five rooms, an attic, and a lean-to. The
men and boys slept in the attic, with rain drops in the summer and
snowflakes in winter enlivening sleep. A large room next to the
granary contained a chimney and two small windows. This was the sitting
room, dining room and the bedroom of Mr. and Mrs. Beveridge.
Travelers often stayed
over night in the log house, which had once been used as a county inn.
They were served good meals and had a good bed. The cost was
seventy-five cents and included lodging and meals, with their horses
being fed and stabled.