Written by George Kinnear, an ancestor of the Davidson Family for whom our Lake Eureka Woodland area is named. Kinnear grew up on Walnut Creek in Woodford County, "near the old camp ground of the Pottawattomics." He writes, "Their camp ground was strewn with pieces of flint and arrowheads and their old trails leading off in different directions remained." George served in the Civil War, and sent his wartime earnings home to his mother, who presented the full savings of $3600.00 to George at the end of the war. He used it to buy cattle, and from the profit gained on selling the fattened cattle, he bought two sections of Illinois land.
He wrote the following (from his home in Seattle) in August 1911 as a reminiscence of his childhood in the 1850s along Walnut Creek. This information is recorded in a Genealogy of the Kinnear Family shared with us by Steve Colburn, a descendent of the Kinnear/Davidson families. Our gratitude to Steve Colburn for sharing this information.
"In those times the forest trees, untouched by the woodsmen's axe stood in all their native beauty. The woods were full of ripe fruit- the wild cherries, wild plums, crabapples, mulberries, huckleberries, elderberries, gooseberries, black currants, wild grapes and may apples, red haws, black haws, acorns chinkapins, hickory nuts, walnuts, pawpaws and persimmons, and wild honey in nearly every hollow tree.
Of the game birds there were droves of wild turkeys, pheasants, quail, doves, woodpeckers, yellow-hammers, plovers and sapsuckers.
Of the animals the deer, squirrel, coon, possum, rabbit, wolf and fox. The streams teemed with fish.
I looked up into the sky and saw the myriads and myriads of wild pigeons. They were in columns extending from horizon to horizon, and from the north and south as far as the eye could see; at times they almost darkened the sun*. And out on the prairie I saw millions of wild geese, ducks, brant and cranes, sporting about in the sloughs and bogs, their quacking, screaming, chirping and whirring of wings sounding like distant thunder.
Out in another direction on the dry ground I saw the prairie chickens. They were almost as numerous as the wild waterfowls. They were crowding and cackling and chasing each other around in the grass.
Among the birds or off by themselves were herds of deer feeding in the prairie grass. Here was a sportsman's paradise.
What a treat it would be now to go back with our baskets into those woods and gather the nuts as they fall from the trees, to pull down the black haw bush, and gather the richest berry that grows, and the sweet persimmons we would gather, too. Farther down the road lies the pawpaw patch and from among its leaves we pick the ripe, juicy fruit, and at last start for home, our baskets filled to the brim. Let us go home to our old home again. We see the large fireplace, the wide hearth, the old dutch oven in which Mother baked her bread and boiled the mush before the fire. The table is spread with the bread mother baked, the bowls of mush and milk. The roasted game the hunter brought, the baked potatoes and luscious fruit and the pumpkin pie that mother made from the flat pie pumpkin. A barefoot boy is squatting on the floor and with the mush pot between his legs is scraping the kettle for the crust.
Out in the woods we hear the wild turkey gobble; the drumming of the pheasant, and the nuts dropping from the trees; we see the waving of the treetops and hear the rustling of the leaves, the song of the birds, and the barking of the squirrels, and watch them leap from tree to tree. They are all our friends. How I like them! Let me go among them alone again at night with my dog, and there I'll follow the 'possum and the coon, stroll along beside a creek and listen to the song of the frogs, the hooting of the owl and the whippoorwill. ...
How pleasant to remember old Washington surrounded by broad prairies and beautiful groves, and inhabited by friends and associates of the early days!"
*The birds referred to here are passenger pigeons which are now extinct