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Science Treasure Hunt Question #1

Daniel & Elizabeth Prince, Princeville’s Namesake


Seeking a free and open country, Daniel Prince came from Indiana, and in 1822, was the first settler to live among the Indians in what, three years later, was the northern part of Peoria County.  Mr. Prince built and lived in a log cabin “on the edge of the timber.” In a few years, other pioneering people, some of them friends or employees of Mr. Prince, gathered around the attractive timber, and the settlement became known as Prince’s Grove.

When Mr. Prince drove to the market in Peoria during the winter of 1832-33, he was described by Mr. John Z. Slane, who was then a small boy living in Peoria.  He was clad in home-spun and home-woven blue jeans, an ankle-length overcoat, with an old felt hat covered with a quilt brought down over his ears and neck, and tied in front.  He had long whiskers and chewed tobacco.  His load was dressed hogs.  Mounting his wagon, he slung off first the hay for the cattle, then quilt after quilt, then hurried to unload the meat.  After feeding his oxen in the rail-fence enclosure, he ate his own lunch there.  That night he slept on the floor of the Indian store then returned to his home the next day.”  Mr. Prince was described as a modest man.  He was tall, but stooping, with brown curly hair, red cheeks, and light eyes, probably blue.  At home, he was more easy-going than when seen in the Peoria market.  He was a large-scale farmer, furnishing employment to all who needed it.  He was very generous and was known to butcher a hog or a steer and give a quarter to neighbors who needed something to eat.  Whenever that neighbor found it convenient, payment was made, and if payment was never made, Mr. Prince did not complain.

This was the country in the days, up to about 1835 or 1836.  The native people of the area left immediately after the Black Hawk War of 1832, though Daniel Prince had been accepted by the natives in the years leading up to their departure.  On the prairie grew prairie grass, rosin-weed, “red-root,” and “shoestring.”  Near and in the timber were patches of hazel brush, sumac, blackberry, and gooseberry bushes.  Now and then, eight, ten, or a dozen deer could be seen on the edge of the hills.  Along Spoon River there were deer with sometimes as many as 150 in a herd.  There were also wild cats “as large as lynxes,” and plenty of wolves, both the coyotes or prairie wolves and the gray timberwolves.  The timber was of large growth and had very few small trees.  Daniel Prince appreciated the timber and sought to preserve it.  He plowed two sets of furrows and burned the grass between them around both the “North Grove” and “South Grove” to protect from prairie fires.

By 1839, the country was too thickly settled to suit Mr. Prince.  His cattle, roaming around, found neighbors’ haystacks to raid.  When the neighbors would “sic the dogs” on Prince’s cattle, he would have no more of it.  He moved in 1839 or 1840 to Missouri, where the country was still wild and unsettled.

It was for Daniel Prince that Princeville Township and Princeville Village were later named.  His brother, Myron Prince, was also an early settler and lived a few miles to the northwest, later keeping a hotel in Princeville.  Myron Prince’s son, George Washington Prince, graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, studied law, and later became a Congressman from the Galesburg District.

Daniel Prince was born in Vermont in about 1800.  He married Elizabeth (Aunt Betty) Morrow in Peoria County in about 1831.  Their three daughters were born during their years in Prince’s Grove.  The eldest, Jane, was born in 1832, Sarah in 1835, and Isabella in 1837.  Two sons, James and Myron, were born in 1841 and 1843 after the family moved from Prince’s Grove to Cole County Missouri.  Elizabeth’s two brothers, James and John Morrow, and their families, also moved with the Prince’s to Missouri.  Elizabeth Prince died December 15, 1847, and Daniel on February 25, 1850, in Vernon County, Missouri.


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