Back in 1914, the editor of The Vandalia Union newspaper asked the old settlers to write down what they remembered about the county 50 years before. There were 20 or more replies, and they were published in the newspaper, beginning on April 9, 1914.
Maranda Pennington was one of the first to respond, and her personal story of the days of 1865 is very interesting.
She wrote, Editors and readers of the Union I do not remember any certain incidents that transpired in the year 1864, but well do I remember my experiences during 1865.
On March 6, 1865, my husband, Josiah Pennington, enlisted in service in the war, and I was left with six children on our farm near the Woodyard, north of Shobonier.
We had a yoke of oxen, and the two oldest boys, James and Charles, aged 13 and 12, and myself, decided to make a crop I to clear the ground and one of the boys held the plow while the other drove.
On April 22, I decided to walk the railroad to Vandalia to get seed potatoes and have them sent down in a neighbors farm wagon. The water was all over the bottom. When I got to Hickory Creek, a man who was helping build a mill there helped me across. When I got to the river, I cant describe the course I took, but I went to the National Road, after wading water and (floating) on drifts.
Our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Akeman, had brought tobacco to town with their oxen, and I sent my potatoes home with them, which I purchased at Capps Store, then on the street on which the Presbyterian Church now stands.
Vandalia had no walks, only planks laid down; no brick buildings; and the cattle, hogs, etc., ran in the streets, for there was no stock law.
I remember a very large hollow sycamore log, which had been cut in the bottom, standing at the Perkins property, which was used for a smokehouse a number of years before 1864.
The first Vandalia paper I remember was the Baptist Helmet, published by Mr. Kellum, a minister, and printed on foolscap paper. Other papers were the Age of Steam and the Fayette Observer. I have read the county papers ever since they have been published.
I will be 84 years old on April 30, and love to converse with those who knew Vandalia at that time.
Maranda Ginger was born on April 30, 1830, in Fayette County and died on Nov. 26, 1919, five years after writing her memoirs for the newspaper. She was the daughter of Revolutionary War veteran Henry Ginger and his wife, Chana Luster, and married on Jan. 16, 1851, in Fayette County to Josiah Pennington.
They made their home in southeastern Vandalia Township, and were parents of 10 children: James W. (died, age 20), Charles, Mary, William, Martha J. (died, age 1), Frederick (died age 9), John, Herby (died age 5), Robert and Joseph.
As mentioned in her letter to the editor, her husband, Josiah, entered the service during the Civil War in 1865, leaving her with six small children. He mustered in Aug. 11, 1865, in the First Army Corps, Co. K, of the Eighth Illinois, serving with other Otego Township men.
A year later, almost to the day, 42-year-old Josiah mustered out as a corporal, and returned home to his family. He died on March 8, 1876, and was buried in the family plot at Pinhook Cemetery, Vandalia Township.
The editor did a good service for future historians in asking for stories from Fayette Countys early settlers.
Marandas story, for one, may have been lost to us.