James Dorward Raitt’s journal
The journal below is a faithful reproduction of the original text written by James Dorward Raitt following a trip back to Illinois in 1907. The cover was not reproducible and for the sake of convenience I have not left it totally in its original form (size). However, the spellings (e.g. Farfarshire) and punctuation and paragraphs are those used in the original. The original is also typed, but I have used a different typeface to convey a more old-timey feel to the text of the journal itself.
Quite apart from giving the early family tree and insights into the move from seafaring to farming, the journal gives a remarkable view of life in Illinois in the early 1900s. We meet people the Raitts knew back in Arbroath, we get a glimpse of the cities of the time, we get a feel for the novelty of automobiles and telephones and phonographs, and we see the changes that have taken place over 25 years of being away.
BIRTHS OF THE FAMILY.
James Dorward Raitt was born in Arbroath, Farfarshire, Scotland, on October 3rd, 1840.
Elizabeth Abbott was born on Glamis, Farfarshire, Scotland, August 30th, 1843.
They were united in marriage in Arbroath, Scotland, on December 18th, 1868.
John Raitt, son of James Dorward Raitt and wife, Elizabeth Abbott, was born on July 27th, 1870, in Arbroath, Farfarshire, Scotland.
Lily Raitt was born December 28th, 1871, in Pike township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
James Dorward Raitt was born on Ju1y 28th, 1873, in Deer Creek township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Mathilda Raitt was born on November 11th, 1874, in Deer Creek township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Elizabeth Raitt was born on March 28th, 1876, in Deer Creek township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Sarah Bella Raitt was born on September 14th, 1877, in Deer Creek township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Colin Dorward Raitt was born on February 21st, 1879, in Washington township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Marion Violet Raitt was born on June 14th, 1880, in Washington township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Henry Motley Raitt was born on November 17th, 1881, in Washington township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Annie Violet Raitt was born on October 7th, 1883, in Chester precinct, Saunders county, Nebraska, U S.A.
Daisy Raitt was born April 5th, 1885, in Chester precinct, Saunders county, Nebraska, U.S.A.
Claude Raitt was born on March 7th, 1887, in Chester precinct, Saunders county, Nebraska, U.S.A.
DEATHS IN THE FAMILY.
Bridget Motley, mother of Elizabeth Abbott, died February 19th, 1880, in Washington township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Marion Violet Raitt died August 6, 1881, in Washington township, Tazewell county, Illinois. U.S.A.
Henry Motley Raitt died November 17th, 1882, in Washington township, Tazewell county, Illinois, U.S.A.
Lily Dorward Raitt, wife of John Raitt, died December 12th, 1904, in Reading township, Butler county, Nebraska, U.S.A., leaving seven children and her husband to mourn her loss.
Harley Colin Raitt, son of Lily Dorward Raitt and John Raitt, died of lock jaw on May 15th, 1913, aged 8 years, 5 months and 15 days, in Union township, Butler county, Nebraska.
James Dorward Raitt, Sr., born at Arbroath, Scotland, died at David City, Nebraska, July 22nd, 1917, aged 76 years, 9 month and 19 days.
Lily Raitt was married to John Raitt on March 2, 1893.
Matilda Raitt was married to George Liles on June 27th, 1894.
John Raitt was married to Lillian Dickson on June 30th, 1896.
James D. Raitt was married to Maude Hall on June 26th, 1901.
Claude Raitt was married to Tilly Currie on March 3rd, 1909.
Colin D. Raitt was married to Effie Barlean on March 4th, 1909.
Annie Violet Raitt was married to Perle Hair on June 8th, 1910.
Elizabeth Raitt was married to Henry E. Keill on December 29th, 1910.
Daisy Raitt was married to Robert W. Baldwin on March 13th, 1912, at Omaha, Nebraska
Sarah Belle Raitt was married to Edgar A. Ives on Wednesday, September 8th, 1915, at David City, Nebraska.
James Dorward Raitt, with his wife, Elizabeth Abbott, and their son, John Raitt and Bridget Motley, mother of Mrs. Raitt, left Arbroath on the 14th day of July, 1871, for Glasgow and from Glasgow by steamboat for New York, U. S. A. Arrived in New York July 31, 1871, then by train to Chenoa, McLean county, Illinois.
Left .McLean county, Illinois, March 1872 and went to Deer Creek, Tazewell, county, Illinois. Worked for E. G. Chaffer and others, then bought a team of horses and rented ground from Abraham Chaffer and went farming on my own account.
Took but my first naturalization papers at Pekin, Illinois, in 1876 and my final naturalization papers Pekin, Illinois, on the 30th day of October, 1878.
August 9th, 1881, about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, a fire broke out in the hay loft
above the stable and destroyed property amounting to $400 or $500. This was on
80 acres of land belonging to Roger Jenkins.
In September, 1882, bought 160 acres of land in Chester precinct, Saunders county, Nebraska. Left Illinois on February 15, 1883, and arrived at North Bend, Nebr., February 22, 1883. Went to live on a farm belonging to Jake Yargis, on which farm I stayed two years, then moved on my own farm on which I stayed 20 years.
On the 30th day of October, A. D. 1878, James D. Raitt took out his final naturalization certificate at Pekin, Tazewell county, Illinois. He had then been over five years in the state and two years and upwards having elapsed since he reported himself at the judge's office, in Pekin. Tazewell county, Illinois, and filed his declaration of his intention.
May 24, 1891, J. D. Raitt and wife joined at the M. E. church at Spring Creek. In August, 1904, sold out my farm in Saunders county and purchased 240 acres in Union township, Butler county, Nebraska. The farm being rented for the year 1905, I did not get possession to move on it till March 1, 1906. Rented John Curry's farm for the year 1905, and moved from Saunders county to the John Curry farm in Butler county in March, 1905, farmed it one year and then moved on my own farm on March 1, 1906.
In August, 1904, Mrs. Raitt and Annie went to California and visited about six weeks.
On Wednesday, September 26. 1907, myself and Mrs. Raitt left Nebraska for a visit to our old home in Illinois. We visited at Peoria, Chenoa, Deer Creek and other places and while back there had a stone put up in the graveyard at Deer Creek to mark the spot where Grandmother, Marion and Henry lie buried.
Having rented my farm to my son, Claude, myself and Mrs. Raitt moved to David City, Neb., in March 1910, to live in a house I had purchased.
Notes on Our Visit to Illinois.
Having emigrated from Illinois to Nebraska in February, 1883 and not having been back during these nearly 25 years, and having two children and my wife’s mother buried there and wishing to have a stone put up to mark the spot where hey were buried, Mrs. Raitt and myself resolved to make a visit back to Illinois. So on Wednesday, September 26, 1907, we went to Garrison and took the 8 :10 a. m. train on the B. & M. R. R. for Peoria, Ill. Got to Lincoln about 10 a. m. and as we had to wait for the train, went for a walk through the city. While looking for a place to get dinner I felt a hand on my shoulder and on turning round looked in the face of Frank Schaaf. He had been looking out his office window on the opposite side of the street and said he knew us at the first glance. He wished us to go home with him to dinner, but we declined. He said he was doing a good business and was doing well since he left David City.
Left Lincoln about 4:16 and arrived at Galesburg- about 3 a. m. September 27. Left Galesburg at 5 a. m. and got to Peoria at 7 a. m. Got on the street car and very soon was at 414 Butler street, the residence of Mrs. John Rose, who when Mrs. Rose was a girl was a friend and companion of my wife. As I had wrote to her before leaving, she was expecting us. When Mrs. Rose and my wife met it was hard to tell whether they were going to laugh or cry.
Mrs. Rose's youngest daughter, Anna, is married and occupies part of her home. Mrs. Rose's husband died about 9 years ago. Her children are all married except her youngest son, Harry, who lives with her.
As we had planned to stop just one night in Peoria, both Mrs. Rose and her daughter, Anna, protested against us going away soon. Then another daughter, Mrs. Ryan, came in, and when the three got after us to stay till Monday we gave in. I told them I had wrote to Archie Crabb "that I would be in Chenoa on Friday and I did not wish to have him go to Chenoa after us and us not be there. "Oh," said Mrs. Ryan, "you write him a postal card and I will get Jack to mail it as he goes to his work after dinner and Mr. Crabb will get it tomorrow and he will not go to Chenoa after you." I was not sure about Mr. Crabb getting the postal in time, but to ease my conscience I wrote the card and gave it to Mrs. Ryan.
After dinner, along with Mrs. Rose, we went to see the city and purchase a stone. Went to John Markle & Sons in Adams street where we purchased a stone. It was to be lettered and taken out to the cemetery at Deer Creek and good foundation put under it and set up. Mr. George Small, of Deer Creek, was to point out the graves. After viewing the fine buildings and large stores went back to Mrs. Rose's.
It rained nearly all night and was raining yet on Friday morning, so we stayed indoors all day. Mrs. Dargel called up Jim Cramond over the phone and told him we were in Peoria. I went to the phone to talk to him. While I was talking to him Mrs. Rose and others commenced to laugh. I asked what they was laughing at. They said I told Jim Cramond I knew an Arbroath man who lived in Wilber, but he was dead now.
Saturday, Sept. 28, I took the street car for Mr. Cramond's. He is an Arbroath man, but has been a long time in the States. After a pleasant talk with him and listening to a few Scottish airs from his fine phonograph I went back to Mr. Ryan's where we were invited to dinner. After dinner went to Adams street to Walter Wyatt to get glasses fitted for her eyes. Mrs. Rose and Mrs. Ryan being with us, we went to another married daughter of Mrs. Rose's, Mrs. McCracken. After visiting with her for some time we returned to Mrs. Rose's.
Sunday, the 29th, along with Mrs. Rose we went o visit her son , Jim, where we had dinner. After dinner Jim and I started out for a walk. We went to the river side and walked up towards the bridge. The sight along the river bank was certainly a sight to see. House boats and shacks of all description lined the river side. The tenantry was in keeping with the shacks they lived in. Was shown through one of the distilleries by a man who was in charge who showed us the different processes the corn went through till it was whisky. Went as far as the bridge, then to the car and Jim’s house. After supper returned to Mrs. Rose’s.
On Friday night Mrs. Ryan had gone with me, to visit an Arbroath man named Charles McBirney and Mr. and Mrs. McBirney had promised to come and visit us at Mrs. Rose’s on Sunday night, so not to disappoint them we left Jim Rose’s, although was told Mr. and Mrs. McCracken was coming there that evening. Well, the McBirneys did not come.
September 30, left Peoria for Chenoa. Mrs. Dargel went to the station with us. Mr. Crabb was waiting for us at the station. He told us he was in on Friday and had waited for the afternoon train when we did not come in on the morning train. He said it had rained all day. I told him, how it was and I was sorry he had got such a wetting, but when he said, "Do you think I never got a wetting before, and you done quite right to stop in Peoria and enjoy yourself,” I said no more about it.
Mr. Crabb lived about 9 miles from Chenoa. Mrs. Crabb gave us a warm welcome. After dinner Mr. Crabb hitched up to his buggy and said he was going to give me a drive to see the country. We drove to Jim Richardson’s. He was plowing. I walked over to him, when "Now are you Jim Raitt?" he said as we shook each other by the hand. After a short talk he said he would come to Mr. Crabb's at night. So we left. It was from Jim Richardson's father that I rented the small house I lived in when we first came to the States 36 years ago. Jim was then a young man and the girl who afterwards became his wife used to visit us. His children are now grown up, married and have children of their own. As we drove past the graveyard I could recall the face and form of many who are at rest there but who were in vigorous manhood 36 years ago. We went to Mr. Snethen's and then back to Mr. Crabb's.
Tuesday Mr. Crabb and I walked to John Guthrie's where we had a short visit. Then Mr. Guthrie went back to Mr. Crabb’s with us. Mrs. Snethen and Mrs. Brinkman was there when we got back, so that we got acquainted with them and Robert Crabb, Mr. Crabb’s son, who lives with them.
Wednesday, October 2. Went to Henry Crabb's today. Mr. Brinkman was there, building a cow stable, Henry Crabb helping him. I walked to Jim Nicol’s where I had a cordial welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Nicol and their two daughters, Mabel and --. Mrs. Nicol remembers me and Mrs. Raitt well when we lived in Arbroath. After a pleasant visit and a talk about Arbroath and Arbroath streets and folks I went back to Henry Crabb’s for dinner. One of Mr. Crabb’s daughters has a very fine voice and we greatly enjoyed the playing and singing by his two daughters. After supper we went back to A. Crabb’s.
October 3. This was my 67th birthday. Mr. and Mrs. A. Crabb, myself and Mrs. Raitt started this morning for Pontiac.
On the way stopped at the county farm, Mr. and Mrs. Myer in charge. It is a grand institution; 60 inmates to look after 240 acres of land. Mr. Myer took us through the whole building, explaining all the different arrangements. Everything was in perfect order and scrupulously clean. We had dinner there. Archie Crabb's name is engraved on the stone set in the building, he being one of the building committee. After dinner drove to Pontiac. Here we met David Copes. He was a boy of 9 years old when we lived near Chenoa 36 years ago and remembered us quite well.. He took us in his automobile and drove through the streets of the city, giving us a fine chance to see this remarkable beautiful city. In one corner of the block on which the court house stands is a beautiful 'monument erected in memory of the soldiers and sailors of Livingston county which lost their lives in the civil war 18Cl-1865. In Pontiac is likewise the state reformatory, a number of large fine buildings. Livingston county may well be proud of its county town . Got to A. Crabb's about sundown, well pleased with our day's outing.
October 4. Went to Jim Nicol's today. Had a great day talking of old times. Heard some fine airs from his phonograph. He has three sons and two daughters at home. After supper we bid goodbye to this truly Scottish family and went back to A. Crabb’s.
October 5. Mr. Crabb and myself started for Chenoa. On the way stopped at George Womberdorf’s. Mr. Womberdorf and his wife, Maria Beeks, lived neighbors to use when we lived near Chenoa 36 years ago. They were not married then. Now they have a grown-up family, some of them married and have children. Mr. and Mrs. Womberdorf gave us a hearty welcome. We talked about the changes that had taken place in 36 years, etc., etc. After dinner drove to Chenoa. It is a lively town, by the way the streets was thronged and the number of wagons and buggies I saw here. It has grown quite large since I was here. Met Mr. Morris Munro, who is cashier of a bank in Chenoa. Found A. Crabb, Jim Nicol and Mr. Munro was sending to Dundee for views of Scotland, so I went along with them. Got to A. Crabb’s about sundown. George Taylor called me up over the phone said he was coming over to see us tomorrow.
October 6. Went to John Guthrie's this forenoon. After dinner went to church. Heard a good sermon. Met Mrs. John Phillips, Lucius Phillips, Charles Richardson, Bell Phillips, Ethel Crabb, Orin Hepperly and wife. Henry Crabb and family came and stayed the evening at Mr. A. Crabb's.
October 7. A. Crabb called Emma Holt to the phone and told her we were coming there Wednesday. Went to visit Mr. and Mrs. Brinkman today. Mr. and Mrs. Nicol was there visiting also. Spent a very pleasant day, a great deal of the conversation being about Arbroath, etc. Stayed till after supper, then went back to Mr. A. Crabb's, then Mr. Crabb took us to visit Mrs. John Phillips and her daughter, Bell. It was a great pleasure for us to see Mrs. Phillips. Her husband, now dead, was a friend to us when we came to Illinois 36 years ago. Got back to A. Crabb's about 10 p. m.
October 8. This morning Mr. Crabb took us to visit Mr. and Mrs. Snethen. Mr. Snethen had just got back from South Dakota. After dinner Mr. Snethen's son started the phonograph. He had some fine records. After spending a very pleasant day and after we had supper we bid Mr. and Mrs. Snethen goodbye and returned to A. Crabb’s.
October 9. Got ready this morning to go to Mr. and Mrs. Holt's, Mr. A. Crabb taking us in a carriage. It was about 10-mile drive. The fields of corn all the way were good. Got to Mr. Holt’s about 10 a. m. Shortly after we arrived Mr. and Mrs. Lindly and Mr. Lindly, Sr., arrived. After dinner Mr. Crabb and Mr. and Mrs. Lindly left for home. Mr. Holt has some fine horses, one bay colt 3 years old weighing 1400 pounds. When I was admiring this fine colt, Mr. Holt said his brother Jim, had two 2-year-old colts that was 200 lbs. heavier than his bay. Of course I was from Nebraska and for the honor of my state I was bound to go him one better, that another idea came to me. “And where does Brother Jim live?” I asked. “About three-fourths of a mile from here,” said he. “Then what is the matter with me going to Brother Jim’s and seeing the colt?” “All right,” said he, “I will take you there in the morning.”
October 10. Harry took me over this morning to Brother Jim's to see his horses. The two 2-year-old colts was there all right. One weighed 1610, the other 1640. In the afternoon went with Mr. and Mrs. Holt to Flannagin. It is quite a town; some very fine buildings and quite a business town.
October 11. Mr. Holt took us to Mr. Lindly's today, 10-mile drive. The fields of corn all the way looked fine. After dinner Mr. Lindly and Mr. Holt went to Monmouth, leaving us at Archie Taylor's. On their return from Monmouth took us back to Mr. Lindly's.
October 12. Along with Mr. and Mrs. Lindly we went to Monmouth. This is quite a market town. Some fine buildings. Four large elevators. There is likewise a coal mine one mile out of town, employs 150 men, output 300 to 400 tons daily. We spent a very pleasant afternoon sightseeing .
October 13. Went with Mr. and Mrs. Lindly to Monunk and attended service at the Methodist church, Rev. Ayling pastor. He preached a good sermon. The church is a very fine building. In the afternoon visited with A. Taylor and Mrs. Taylor.
October 14. Mr. Lindly took us to Monunk where we took the train for Graymont. A. Crabb was at Graymont to meet us. On arriving at Mr. A. Crabb’s home Mrs. Brinkman was just leaving to go home, so we bid her goodbye. Miss Ethel Crabb was visiting at A. Crabb’s. While eating apples we were talking about George Taylor when Miss Crabb said, “Why don’t you ring him up?” She said, “I will get him,” and sue enough she went to the phone and was not long in having him at the other end of the phone and had him promise to come to Mr. Crabb’s tonight. Well, we thought we would see him after all, but a greater surprise was in store for us, for first Mr. Guthrie, David Guthrie, May Guthrie and Elmer Williams and Mable Wilson, teacher, then Lucius Phillips, Mrs. Phillips, then Mollie and Lula Crabb, then Low Halyman, then George Taylor, all came over to spend the evening, and truly it was an evening long to be remembered. Roler Crabb set the phonograph going and rolled out a number of pieces. On departing all gave us a hearty handshake and wished us a pleasant journey and safe arrival home in Nebraska.
October 15. Roler Crabb took Mr. and Mrs. Crabb and us to Chenoa to take the train to Bloomington. Arrived at Bloomington at 1 :30 a. m. Found the train to Deer Creek did not come till 8 a. m. The Bloomington court house is a beautiful building. Arrived at Deer Creek at 8 :45 a. m. Here Alex Storboras, W. Smith and George Small were at the train to welcome us, along with Jim Nicol. Went to Mr. Small's house where we sat talking till 11 p. m.
October 16. Went to the cemetery this morning to locate the graves of our two children, Marion and Henry. Got Elmer Ramsey to put down the foundation for the stone. We went to Fred Chaffer to get a barrel of water. He was plowing and thought I was an old German when he saw me driving along the road, but as soon as I went close to him, "How are you, Jim Raitt?" "All right, how's Fred ?" Then I told him what my errand was and asked him if he could help out with a barrel of water. "Just as soon as I can get a wagon," said he. "My wagon is gone and I will have to go to my son's for one. Go up to the house and have a chat with Mrs. Chaffer and I will have a barrel of water at the graveyard pretty soon." I went to the house and talked with Mrs. Chaffer while Fred got wagon, barrel and water at the graveyard. Fred Chaffer and Elmer Ramsey mixed the cement and sand and made the foundation. When we left it to harden till next morning. In the afternoon I met L. Stumbaugh, Frank Field, John Phillips, John Potts, the Misses Lenick and other people I had known when lived Deer Creek.
October 17, Mr. Crabb, E. Ramsey and myself went to the cemetery and placed the stone on the foundation. Got Mr. Small’s horse and buggy and went to visit with Mr. and Mrs. F. Chaffer. What a change there was at the four corners – store gone, blacksmith shop, wagon shop and dwelling houses, all gone. The house in which Doc Allen used to live was there. The school house and yard in which I raised a Republican poll. Yes, 25 years brings many changes. Miss Mabel and Maud Chaffer are the only two of Fred’s children at home, the others being all married except one who was dead. After dinner myself in one room and Mrs. Raitt and Mrs. Chaffer and her daughters in another room kept up a lively conversation till 4 p. m. when we left to visit the
graveyard that Mrs. Raitt might see the stone now it was in place. At Mr. Small's met Jim Nicol who had been at Peoria and had seen Call and Agnes homeward bound. Mr. and Mrs. Crabb had gone to visit Mr. and Mrs. Voohres. Mr. and Mrs. Voohres came back with them so that we had the pleasure of seeing them this evening. Then we went to visit Mr. and Mrs. Horton. After spending the evening with them went back to Mr. Small's.
October 18. Mr. and Mrs. Crabb and Mr. and Mrs. Nicol left this morning on the train for Chenoa. Met John Schofer and Borton Laing, old neighbors. At 10 :45 a. m. we bid goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Small and tool< the train for Peoria. Owing to the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Small our visit to Deer Creek was a great pleasure, never to be forgotten. On arriving at Peoria we were pleased to find Mrs. Rose waiting for us at the station. On arriving at her house Mrs. Ryan and Mrs. Dargel gave us a cordial welcome. After dinner along with Mrs. Rose we went to Adams street, Mrs. Raitt going shopping while I went and paid for the stone. We then went to Glen Oak Park. It is a beautiful place. While walking around Mrs. Raitt lost her purse. On retracing our steps Mrs. Rose found it. Took the car back to Mrs. Rose's. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan came in. Conversation was lively till train time, when we bid these kindly warm-hearted friends goodbye. Mr. Dargel went to the train with us. Got our grip checked and saw us in the car. Left Peoria at 8 p.m.
October 19. Arrived in Omaha at 8 a. m. Took our grips to the union depot and then went to see the city. After seeing the post office, Bee building, etc,. we were looking for a place to get our dinner when Mrs. Raitt asked a man who was passing where there was a place we could get a good dinner. “Are you from Glasgow?” was his answer. “Not quite,” said I, “we are from Arbroath.” “An did you ken I wis Scottish?” said Mrs. Raitt. “O, I kent as soon as yu opena your mouth.” After some further talk he took us to a place where we had a good diner. Before bidding us good day he gave me his address, S. D. Jolly, Detective 720, S. Y. L. Bldg, Phone 3540. His grandfather and father were born in Montrose. He was on the Mrs. Lillie case in David City. He told me if I ever came back to Omaha to look him up. Left Omaha at 3 p. m. over the N. W. R. R. On arriving at Fremont on looking out at the car window there was Annie on the platform, waving to us. Her and another girl had come from North Bend to purchase coats. She told us she had a letter from a girl friend in David City and that Colin had had his wagon smashed by an engine. He certainly had a close call. He had been to Rising with a load of wheat. Had just got off the dump when he saw a freight train coming toward him, but on account of cars on the track did not see a passenger train coming in the other direction. He tried to turn the mules, but the frightened brutes bounded on the track in front of the approaching engine. The engine struck the wagon on the front wheel, raised it up in the air, but with a bound the mules, being heavy, powerful brutes, jerked part of the wagon gear clear of the engine. Colin had held on to the lines so that when the mules went off with part of the wagon he was pulled out of the wagon, clear of the engine, unhurt except shaken up. The wagon box and two wheels was mashed. While he made no claim on the company, they paid him $20.00.
Got to Millerton at 7 :30. As they had not got my letter saying we would be home Saturday night, there was no one to meet us, but then the phone was handy and very soon Lizzie was on the way to Millerton after us.
Exactly one hundred years after James Dorward Raitt made the trip back to Deer Creek, his great granddaughter Jane Keill made a trip in 2007 to find the graves. Like James she wrote up the story of her expedition of discovery. She subsequently made another trip there in 2013 and also wrote up the details in another journal.