James Lemen Family
Letter Describing The Family History And Events
Other letters and news articles are included.
Part of the Lyman Draper Collection
Submitted by Janet Flynn
Madison Co., Illinois
January 18th, 1863
Tottering under the weight of 75 years I have seated myself for
the purpose of complying with your request.
At the time your first letter came to hand such was my affliction
that I was unable to reply. I
hope therefore you will not attribute my silence to any want of respect,
but to my advanced age and feeble health.
Captain Joseph Ogle, (who was my Grandfather on my mother's
side) was a native of Virginia, born 1758.
He resided at Wheeling during the Revolutionary War, and held a
Captain's commission (which commission is now in my possession) signed
by Patrick Henry, then Governor of Virginia, June 2nd 1777.
In 1785 he removed to Illinois and located in St. Clair County
where he remained until his death in 1821.
His family was large consisting of three sons & six
daughters, all of whom lived to become heads of families, but have since
passed away. We should have
said in its proper place, that under the Commission from Gov. Henry,
Capt. Ogle Commanded the fort at Wheeling.
His oldest son Benjamin, when but a youth was severely wounded by
the Indians and carried the ball with him to his grave; but upon
becoming grown he avenged himself on his foes by killing & scalping
one of the same tribe by whom he had been wounded.
In this skirmish were Capt. Joseph Ogle, my father, and Benjamin
Ogle with four others making in all seven whites, against nine Indians;
five Indians were killed, two wounded & two escaped; while the
whites sustained no loss. Shortly
after this bloody battle, Benjamin ogle made a profession of religion,
and became a minister of the gospel in the Baptist denomination, &
devoted the last forty years of his life to the labors of the Gospel
Ministry. He departed this
life in February 1847 in the 77 year of his age.
William Biggs was a native of Virginia and was brother-in-law of
Capt. Jos. Ogle, the latter having married the sister of the former. I cannot state the exact period of his birth, I am inclined
to think, however that he was born in 1754.
He was a soldier in the distinguished army with which Gen.
G.R.Clark, performed his western expedition, & aided in the capture
of fts Post Vincent, Kaskaskia, & Cahokia.
After returning to Virginia & receiving an honorable
discharge from service, he went to Wheeling there married, & shortly
after returned to Illinois. His
first daughter (first child) being born on the Mississippi on this
journey to Illinois, he gave her the name Mississippe.
He settled in St. Clair County where he remained the balance of
his life. In 1788 he was
taken prisoner by the Indians & carried to the Kickapoo town on the
Wabash, where he was finally liberated by means of the French traders.
He was a member of the Territorial Legislature for some six or
seven years, & for many years Judge of the County Court.
Not long before his death he wrote & published an account of
his capture & sufferings among the Indians; & in person
presented it to Congress, upon which he received a donation of several
hundred acres of land. He
had seven children, two sons & five daughters.
Whether any of them are now living, I do not know.
I cannot give you the precise period of either the birth or death
of Judge Biggs. I am pretty
confident he was born in 1754 and died 1830.
James Lemen Senior (who was my father) was born in Berkeley
County, Virginia 1760. He
served two years in the Revolutionary War under General Washington.
After the close of the war he visited a brother-in-law who was
residing at Wheeling, when he became acquainted with Capt. Joseph Ogle
& family & married his eldest daughter.
In 1786 he followed his father-in-law Capt. Ogle to Illinois
& settled in St. Clair County where he spent the remainder of his
life. He was I believe the
first acting Justice of the Peace under the American laws in Illinois.
After serving for some time as Justice of the Peace, he was
appointed Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, which office he held for a
number of years. At length
he entered the Gospel Ministry, & devoted the balance of his days
almost exclusively to preaching the gospel, and died on the 8th
day of January 1823 in the 63rd year of his age.
He however lived to see his whole family of children (eight in
number, six sons & two daughters) all become heads of families,
& members of churches in the Baptist denomination; also to see four
of his sons (Joseph, Josiah, Moses & myself all in early life
inducted into the Gospel ministries, which whom he was permitted to
mingle his labors for several years. Robert (our eldest brother) Joseph, William, Moses &
sister Nancy Tolin are now with those beyond Jordan, while Josiah,
sister Catherine Harlan & myself still linger this side the Cold
With regard to Joseph Lemen the Indian fighter mentioned in your
letter I have no knowledge. My
brother Joseph was by no means an Indian fighter, but a pious minister
of the gospel for the space of fifty years.
He however has a son by name name of Joseph who was a captain in
the Mexican War, & was with Gen. Taylor in many of his hard fought
battles, & is now commanding a Company in our present unhappy war
against the Southern rebels.
Upon a more mature reflection I am inclined to think that the
name of Lemen, through mistake, has been substituted for Ogle, and that
Joseph Ogle instead of Joseph Lemen was the noted Indian fighter
referred to in your letter. Capt.
Joseph Ogle in both Virginia and Ills. was everywhere spoken of by all
who knew him as "a great Indian Warrior".
He distinguished himself at the siege of Fort Henry, & in
many skirmishes with the Indians in Western Virginia & in Illinois.
He was the principal guide in the early excursions against the
savages, & was invariably consulted (in matters of war) by the
American forts of our country.
At length he became truly pious, & for many years exhibited a consistent Christian character and died in the possession of a firm hope of a blessed immortality.
Lyman C. Draper;
Having discovered by reading of your Circular (a copy of which
you had the kindness to send me) the vast amount of labor which you have
expended in the procurment of material for Western history, I would fain
assist you all I could, but my advanced age & daily infirmities
disqualify me for such labor.
The battle about which you seem to have been puzzled, was fought
in Illinois in 1791 some five or six miles Northeast of Waterloo, the
present seat of justice of Monroe County.
The Indians had stolen several horses, & fired on a certain
John Dempsey, who having made his escape, carried the tidings to his
friends who seized their guns, mounted their horses, took the trail of
the Indians, overtook them in scattering timber, a battle ensued which
terminated according to my former account.
The stolen horses were recovered.
Capt. Joseph Ogle, Benjamin Ogle, James Lemen Sr. Nathaniel Hull,
Josiah Ryan, John Porter & Daniel Roper, were the names of the seven
accounts have been given relative to the number of each of the war
parties, but my information is from grandfather Ogle, Benjamin Ogle
& my father, who were in the battle.
Grandfather Ogle has no children living.
His son Benjamin spent the most of his time for the last five or
six years of his life in Iowa, where he had daughters living.
This circumstance doubtless gave rise to your impression that
Grandfather has a son living in Iowa, who is a minister of the gospel.
None of Grandfather Ogle's sons were preachers, but Uncle
Benjamin, & he died in 1847. (Eighteen & forty seven).
Five of his children are yet living.
Their names are as follows, according to their births: Polly,
Nancy, Catharine, Prudence & Jacob.
Polly married a man by the name of Solomon Perkins, Nancy-a man
by the name Daniel Chance, Catharine-a man by name of Reuben Chance,
(Daniel's brother), Prudence-a man by name of John Williams.
Solomon Perkins, Daniel Chance & wives are living in
Iowa-cannot say what Counties, as both have recently changed their
places of residence, but still remain in Iowa.
John Williams & wife are living in Indiana-cannot say what
County. Reuben Chance &
wife are in Marion County Ills. Jacob
Ogle & family are living in St. Clair County Illinois.
Judge Biggs has a granddaughter living in St. Paul Minnesota; her
husbands name is Martin Stites. Doubtless
he can give you all desirable information relative to the children of
The father of Col. John Murdock was killed by the Indians in
Kentucky, the particulars of time & place I cannot specify. In 1788 or 89 the widow Murdock with her two sons John &
Barnabas came to Illinois & located in St. Clair County, where she
married a Michael Huff, who in 1794 was killed by the Indians near
Kaskaskia. His widow again
married a man by the name of McFall, who shortly after their marriage
was also killed by the Indians. After
the death of her third husband, the Mrs. McFall set out upon a visit to
Kentucky to see her former friends, & was herself killed by the
Indians not far from Fort Vincenes.
Thus the father & mother & two step fathers of Col. John
Murdock were all killed by the Indians.
Col. Murdock and Benjamin Ogle were brothers-in-law, having
married sisters. The
Colonel was a portly fine looking man, & quite popular.
He was Colonel of Militia; & for some four or five years a
member of the Territorial Legislature.
His hostility to the Indians knew no bounds in consequence of
they having massacred so many of his near relatives.
He was reckless & brave & constantly sought opportunities
to wreak his vengeance upon them as evinced by his attack upon those
encamped on a island near St. Louis, of which you made mention.
The name of the island, the particulars of the skirmish, &
also the date have all escaped my memory.
Of the military service of Layton White-I know nothing more, than
that he was a soldier under Gen. George R. Clark.
He was an honest industrious man, had no family, nor married,
lived to an advanced age of life & died in Madison County, Illinois
some forty years since.
With the certain dates of many facts mentioned in my letter I
cannot furnish you. I have
no knowledge of any person or families the name Lemen who settled in
Illinois forty or fifty years ago.
While my father was in the Revolutionary Service, he was in
several severe skirmishes, but in no very noted battles.
He was quite young when he entered the service.
Josiah Lemen, my only living brother, is residing in Du Quoin,
Perry Co., Illinois 60 miles south of my residence.
Sister Catharine Harlan is living in Monroe County 40 miles west
Rev. J. M. Peck in his appendix to the "Annals of the West",
has given a brief sketch of nearly all the skirmishes which took place
between the whites & Indians in the early settling of Illinois,
together with the names of individuals or families who were killed or
taken prisoner by the Indians, which work doubtless you have among the
many volumes of your library.
Daily Tribune, Feb 15th 1870
Rev. James Lemen, last surviving member of the Convention which
framed the first Constitution of Illinois in 1818, died at the residence
of his son, near Belleville, the 8th inst.
I called on the preceding Rev. Jas. Lemen, in the summer of
1868-but his memory has all faded out, so he could give no information
whatever. He seemed
kind-was a tall, spare, bony-over six feet high.
THURSDAY, Feb. 24, 1870.
A Patriarch Fallen. Rev.
James Lemen, so well known in Illinois and the West, died at his
residence in New Design, St. Clair county, Feb. 8.
Thus has been severed another link binding the present to the
past. The Lemen family has been in the past and still is a power in
Southern Illinois. A record
of the Lemen family would occupy an important chapter in the history of
Illinois, including physical development, morals, religion and politics.
A friend has furnished us a brief sketch of the life and labors
and last days of the venerable Rev. James Lemen, one of nature's
Elder James Lemen was the third son of Rev. James and Catharine
Lemen, who emigrated from Virginia to Illinois in 1786.
They were the parents of six sons and two daughters, all of whom
attached themselves to the Baptist church, and lived to a good old age,
each leaving a large family. Four
of the sons were active ordained ministers of the Gospel.
Elder James Lemen was born in Illinois, Oct 8, 1787.
He was the second white child, born of American parents, in the
State.-Enoch Moore being the first.
Elder Lemen made a profession of religion about the age of twenty
and immediately commenced preaching, but he did not attach himself to
the church till he had fully made up his mind what course to pursue.
He then united with the only work of the Gospel ministry.
In 1800? He in connection with Elder John Baugh, constituted was
was then called the Cantine Creek, now Bethel church.
Elder Lemen remained a member of this church to the time of his
death-over sixty years. For
the most of this time he was an active, efficient minister of the
Gospel, traveling far and wide, organizing and building up churches, and
laboring with marked success in the work of his Master, in Illinois,
Missouri, and other Western States.
Elder Lemen's father was the first person baptized by immersion
The subject of this sketch assisted at his own father's
ordination. He preached his
father's funeral sermon. His
brother Joseph preached that of their mother.
Elder Lemen served his native State some sixteen years in the
halls of Legislation, both as a Representative and a Senater.
He was also offered the election to the United States Senate,
but, having come to the determination to abandon politics in order that
he might devote all his time and talents to the Gospel ministry, he
declined the distinguished honor of a seat in the Senate of the United
States. He was the last
surviving member of the Convention that formed the old State
Constitution. For the last
few years his health has been such that he has been confined almost
entirely to his rooms at home. In
the twenty-sixth year of his age, Dec 8, 1813, he was married to Polly
Pulliam. They were the
parents of eleven children-six of whom together with the bereaved mother
and widow, are left to lament the loss of their dearest earthly friend.
On Tuesday evening February 8, about 5 o'clock, the labors, and
prayers, and suffering of Elder James Lemen were ended …