Excerpts from the book Greenfield, IL. Sesquicentennial 1834-1984

Excerpts from the book Greenfield, IL. Sesquicentennial 1834-1984


James Cannedy , son of John Cannedy


  • Started in Darlington, South Carolina

** James Cannedy, the son of John Cannedy, was born in Darlington, South Carolina on March 8, 1790, and here in the center of the cotton and tobacco country he spent his childhood.  In 1807, at the age of seventeen he moved with his family to Warren Co. Tennessee, where in early manhood he served as Captain of Militia of that county.  He served as Captain in Gen. Jackson's army throughout the war of 1812, and participated in the Battle Of Horseshoe Bend where the power of the Creek Indians was annihilated.**

In 1816, after the close of the war, James Cannedy married ELiza Grizzle, and settled in DeKalb Co. Tennessee, where for several years he operated a tavern, or inn, on the post road between Nashville and Knoxville.  Among the regular guests of this inn was Andrew Jackson, who at the time was a prominent attorney who in conducting his law practice made regular trips between the two cities.

** In 1829, attracted by glowing reports of the possibilities of the great unclaimed prairies of Illinois, which at the time was but sparcely settled, James Cannedy shouldered his rifle, and leaving his wife and young children to care for the inn,set out, on foot, for Illinois.**

**  It is possible that one reason for this trip was to try to find his parents who had gone to Illinois several years previous to this time.**

**  James traveled on foot through Tennessee, across Kentucky, and into Illinois, and ended his journey of some three hundred miles in Greene County.  We do not know if he found and visited his parents or not, but he was very much impressed with the country, and made up his mind to return later and make this state his home.**

**  Upon returning to Tennessee, James disposed of his tevern and the following spring set out with his family for Illinois.**

**  The Cannedy's first stopping place in Illinois was Jefferson county where they remained but a few weeks and then moved on to Greene county and to the spot where the town of Greenfield now stands.  Here they purchased a partially built log cabin from Jeremiah Hand.  This was early 1830's.**

**  James and his older sons set to work to finish the cabin and when it was completed it was what was known at that time as a double cabin.  It had two large rooms and a sizable loft overhead.  This cabin stood for many years on what is now the public square in Greenfield, and played an important role in the early development of that town.  It was the first building erected in the town and later became the first store in the town.  In this cabin the first religious services in the town were held, probably conducted by Elder Stephen Coonrod who had settled about a mile north of this spot the previous year.  In 1835, when a post road was established between Jacksonville and Alton, this cabin became the first Post Office.**

**  The Cannedy's finished their Cabin in the fall of 1830, and in it they spent the terrible winter of 1830-1831 , known in Illinois history as the Winter Of The Deep Snow.**

**  The hardships experienced by these pioneers during that fateful winter cannot be adequately described.  The early fall of that year was mild, but in late November the snow began to fall and continued, with short intervals, until January.  As one  snow fell upon another and was driven before an icy wind it soon accumulated to a depth of from seven to twelve feet in many places, and whole fields were covered with a mantle five and six feet thick.  The sun would occasionly melt the surface of the snow  and then a cold night would freeze it into an almost impenetrable crust.  Much of the wild life of the state perished during this winter.  Deer, prairie chickens, and other game were easily caught in the deep snow and became easy prey for the wolves which infested the state at that time. **

**  The settlers suffers throughout this winter from lack of provisions and adequate clothing and from the airy construction of their cabins.**

**  For several years previous to this severe winter the climate in Illinois had been very mild and the settlers, most of whom had come from warmer states, were wholly unprepared to cope with such a severe change in climate.  There was a period of many weeks while the winter was at its worst that there was no contact between the few scattered cabins.  There was no way to get to the mills, which in most cases were miles away.  Those who were lucky enough to have corn were forced to pound it into a coarse meal from which they could bake a poor quality of bread.**

**  The summer of 1831 which followed this winter was wet and cold, and on Sept. twelfth there came a killing frost which damaged the few acres of corn which the farmers had been able to get planted to such an extent that it was worthlessas food or as seed for the following season.**

**  The Cannedy family was discouraged and they made the long hard trek back to their old home in warmer Tennessee.  Here they remained until 1834 when they again returned to Illinois.  traveling as before, in ox cart and on foot.**

**  During this trip one small child, Julia Ann, the only girl, fell from the ox cart and broke her hip, which caused her to be a cripple for her entire life.**

**  This time the family settled just north of what is now known as the Cannedy Crossroads, about half way between the present towns of Rockbridge and Greenfield.  Here James Cannedy entered land and built a permanent log cabin of two rooms with a loft above for sleeping quarters for the boys.**

**  The Cannedy's had a large family of thirteen children, eleven boys and two girls, all living to maturity with the exception of one girl who died in infancy.**

**  To provide for this large family the father and the older sons split fence rails from the timber on their land and sold them to the early settlers who by this time were coming in increasing numbers to settle on the unclaimed prairies.**

**  Throughout his life James Cannedy was active in county affairs, serving on the County Commissioners Court from 1845 to 1848.  Although lacking in financial resources when he came to Illinois, he was well equipped mentally with a much better education than most of the pioneers of that day, and was able to provide his children with a liberal education.**

**  He must have inherited some traits of frugality from his Scotch mother, for he came to Illinois penniless, but was able  during his lifetime to acquire fifteen hundred acres of good land, most of which passed into the possession of his children  at his death.**

** James and Eliza Cannedy lived out their lives on this farm which they had wrested from the wilderness and on this farm they and an infant daughter are buried in well marked graves.  Eliza died in 1867 at the age of 69 and James died 1872 at the age of eighty-two.  The last surviving child of these parents died in 1930 at the age of eighty-eight.  This was Martin VanBuren Cannedy, the youngest member of family.  He was a veteran of the Civil War and was for forty years, Quartermaster of the Weisner Post , GAR...**

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