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Isaac Beard LaRue et al

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Alternate Spellings - LaRue, LaRew

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Contacts - Melissa Burkhalter for the Isaac Beard LaRue poem and history

We are not setting this up as a genealogy page, since most of the LaRues lived in Millersburg, Duncan, and Keithsburg Townships, and are not in our area of study (exception is James LaRue of Eliza Township, more below). We are including this page as Isaac Beard LaRue composed a poem in the last half of the 19th century documenting his experiences shopping in New Boston. He titled it "A Granger's Experience." We are including information on the Granger Movement in Part 5 of our New Boston and Eliza History. Briefly, the Granger Movement was an American agrarian movement taking its name from the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, an organization founded in 1867. Although established originally for social and educational purposes, the local granges became political forums and increased in number as channels of farmer protest against economic abuses of the day (Ref. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Ed.). Isaac LaRue's poem is interesting in documenting the trickle-down effect of the farmer's problems to the local merchants. The effect is borne out by the fact that both Elmore Denison and Wells Willits (mentioned in the poem) had closed their stores by 1880 (Gore and Harwick were still in business).

We are grateful for the poem, and the permission to use it, to Melissa Burkhalter, a descendant, named after Melissa Adams, wife of Isaac Beard LaRue. She tells us there is a note on the back of the poem by his granddaughter: "Issac Baird LaRue is your great-grandfather. He was a wonderful fine man and specialized in raising fine horses in Millersburg, Illinois."

We will include a few brief notes about the genealogy of the family at the end of the page, from census records, the History of Mercer County, and provided by Melissa Burkhalter.

A Granger's Experience" by Isaac B. Larue

I went to New Boston to buy my goods there
because they were selling them cheaper by far.
Than they were in Aledo or in Muscatine.
This all their customers plainly had seen.

Twas reported by the wise and the good
Who lived in New Boston like honest men would.
Newspapers and posters proclaimed the glad news
To the country all ‘round both to Gentiles and Jews.

Mr. Denison came ‘round with the latest issue
Of his Quarterly paper and said "Howdy-do."
Shook hands with a bow and a smile on his face.
Said he, "You're a stranger almost in this place."

"I've been absent a while from your town it's true
because I have got so much hard work to do.
No time to be squandered by lounging in town,"
I said, as we took up our chairs and sat down.

"We farmers have got to work early and late
to pay the high taxes of county and state,
to pay off the pastor and keep up repairs,
till we scarcely have time to offer our prayers"

"Oh! Don't tell me so. You must never complain.
Your crops will be good if we only have rain.
Remember the counsel your pastor has given.
For gamblers will not be allowed in heaven."

I said, "You look well and good-natured today!"
"You're right," Said he smiling, "and right well I may.
We are selling more now than ever before.
From all ‘round they come to buy at my store."

"Great loads of dry goods are going each day
And to supply the demand is turning me gray.
Although I enjoy it and seem to grow fat,
There's one thing that's bad in spite of all that."

"The efforts the Grangers are making of late.
It sours my mind and fills me with hate.
For if they succeed, it will spoil all my plans.
I shall, then have to live by the toil of my hands."

"My hands are too white and my head is too wise.
Such a loathsome way living I fairly despise.
Much better for them and far better for me,
If they did but know what a task it will be."

"To send away to Chicago or the city of New York
To buy all their goods and sell all their pork.
To Philadelphia, Boston or some other place.
For farmers to do it would be a disgrace."

"Besides they are ignorant and don't understand
How to do their own business like any other man."
And thus we conversed for an hour or two
About what farmers ought and ought not to do.

To wait on some lady, some beautiful bride.
He reasoned quite well but still I can't see
While some are so smart while others can't be.
‘Till at last, he was called away from my side

All they know they have learned at the farmers' expense.
And then they will tell us "We hadn't any sense!"
I sat there and read ‘till my eyes were quite sore.
And found some great news about Denison''s store.

I could see by the pictures displayed on each sheet
‘Twas another big brag, another big cheat.
Advertisements were very much and friends all around
Knew this store was the cheapest place anywhere found.

I had not traded much ‘till I was sold.
And said to myself, "How my Lizy will scold."
I was not disappointed. I can guess pretty well
When bad bargains are made to buy or to sell

For to give her opinion she's not very slow
So she gave it this time as the signal will show.
I've been baffled and swindled and cheated before.
But never so bad as at Denison's store.

So over I went to the corner so straight
To tell our friend Bill of my sorrowful fate.
And give my friends there a share of my trade.
They'd do the fair thing, so the partners both said.

They told me how foolish I had been before
To think to buy goods cheap at Denison's store.
"Just try us," said they. "And don't leave the store
For none can sell cheaper than honest Bill Gore."

So I tried them this time, but I'll try them no more
For they cheated me worse than I had been before.
Wells Willits was then in the business you know.
And to do the far thing I must give him a show.

He said he had lately sustained a great loss.
I felt worry for him for he looked very cross.
I thought I would buy a few things anyway
To see when I'd tried if I thought it would pay.

Now I've often been warned, when I'd money they'd steal it.
But they openly robbed me at the store of Wells Willits.
People told me the Dutchman who keeps store in the brick
Was selling so cheap it made him most sick

So off to his store I went ever so quick
To see the good Dutchman, George Harwick.
He told me he was selling goods less than cost
Of all he was losing and all he had lost.

And still he was willing to do me a favor
And sell me my goods still cheaper than ever
He said he was swindled by "them devils" uptown.
Then on his face came a sorrowful frown.

"Dem Grangers are going to trade mit me now!"
Said George with a wink and a smile on his brow.
"And never cheats one of dem out of one dime."

"Dem Grangers all come to my store den maybe.
Den I gets so well cured of my sickness you see
When I sell all the goods dem fellers get sick.
Den I gets so well cured so devilish quick."

Oh! He was so clever I believed all he said.
And soon all my money to him I had paid.
Then homeward I went with a joyful heart.
Reluctant, however, with my good friend to part.

"There you've done it this time!" Said my wife with a pout.
"To not make it up, I'm bound and I'm bent
For it's old flimsy stuff that's not worth a cent.
It's not worth the making or the thread it will take.
Don't ask me to touch it for pity sake."

I could not say a word but hung down my head
And said I was tired and must go to bed.
Next morning she met me at the door of my room
With the goods in one hand, the other the broom.

I saw at a glance what I was to catch.
So I slammed the door and fastened the latch.
I can't now remember the half that she said
While I stood there and trembled beside of my bed.

She said she'd be burned if she'd live with a fool.
Then she whipped all the children and sent them to school.
I laid low in my room while she railed all the day
While I heard all my darling had for to say.

I remember she said if I opened my head
She'd pound me and kick me and leave me for dead.
She thundered and pounded and threatened me sore
If I didn't come forward and open the door.

I begged and I promised to do so no more.
And if she'd be quiet, I'd open the door.
My coaxing prevailed with my darling at last.
And kindly she said, "Would you like some breakfast?"

So at last when the sun had gone up very high,
I opened the door and looked out very shy,
To see how the battle was going outside.
When lo! Lizy was smiling, my beautiful bride.

"My dear little Lizy," I said at the door,
"You look still more lovely than ever before.
"Your cheeks are so rosy. Your eyes are so bright.
"None could be more lovely than you in my sight."

"She laughed as I tremblingly merged from the room.
"What a goose to be scared at the sight of a broom!
"What a kind hearted creature a woman can be
"When we to their wishes can only agree!

"The storm is now past and the clouds disappear.
"And the sunshine of peace remains only too clear.
"Whatever may come I remember full well
"Not to go to New Boston to buy or to sell.

"After what had just happened, I solemnly pledge
"That I never will trade with hones Dutch George.
"I never will trade," said my wife with a frown,
"with any man living or dead in the town"

Isaac LaRue wrote at the end of the poem (obviously a letter to a relative). "We are all enjoying tolerable good health at present. My eyes are getting well, though they are weak. I have been afflicted about the same as you were years ago. Corn is very good in places. I will have two thousand bushel or more. One hundred of spring wheat, 440 of oats. I have sowed 20 acres of fall wheat broadcast. We are having plenty of rain now. I have not heard from any of our relatives lately. John Allen joined the church last spring.

"You will see by the above that I have been trying my hand at rhyming again.

"Truly yours,
I. B. LaRue
Millersburg, Mercer Co. Illinois
September 25" (about 1875)

Isaac LaRue had possible brothers and sisters who came early to Mercer County. His brother William married Oliva A. Allen on 12/25/1851 in Mercer County. They are found in the 1860 census in Millersburg Township, just next to the Isaac Lutz Mill property in the far northeast corner of New Boston Township. According to the 1860 census William was age 30, born Indiana, Oliva was age 32, born Ohio, and they had no children. They are gone by the 1870 census.

Isaac and William are found in the 1850 census in Millersburg Township (14N4W), with possible brother-in-law George Crittendon: George Crittenden, 23, farmer, born Indiana; Mary, 23, born In; Rebecca, 11(?), In; Isaac Larew, 18, laborer, In; William Larew, 20, laborer, In. Either Rebecca's age is in error or she is another sister. She is obviously too old to be a child of George and Mary.

Other LaRue Families

Sorting out the LaRue families in Mercer County is difficult. The History of Mercer County 1882 tells us of another LaRue family from Kentucky. The Keithsburg Township history (page 137) tells us that the first blacksmith in Keithsburg was a man named LaRue. We believe this is the William B. LaRue, hotel-keeper, Keithsburg, mentioned on page 824. “William B. Larue…was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, August 13, 1824. His father, who was of French birth, came to America in his early youth. He died in Kentucky August 27, 1824. Mr. Larue, with his mother, step-father and brothers, emigrated to Illinois in 1832, landing at Oquawka April 15 and at Monmouth April 24 of the same year. September 4, 1851, he was married to Miss Catharine M. Roberts. She was born February 21, 1835, and died April 14, 1882. Mr. LaRue has no children of his own, but has creditably raised seven orphans.” The raising of orphans further complicates things as some probably took the name LaRue. For example, in the 1870 census in Keithsburg we find William and Catharine: William Larew, age 46, liveryman, born Ky; Catharine, 34, born In; Adelaide S. LaRue, 14, born Il; and Hiram Allen, 7, born Tn.

The above article on William LaRue of Kentucky both helps and hinders. It tells us that William LaRue, brother of Isaac, was the one married to Oliva Allen. It tells us that only male LaRues came from Kentucky (if the article is accurate!). Therefore we might deduce that the Mariah LaRue who married William McNeal on 7/25/1846 in Mercer County is a sister of Isaac. We do not find William McNeal in Mercer County in 1850 (nor anywhere in Iowa or Illinois). We might deduce that the Mary Permelia LaRue who married George Crittenden on 8/12/1848 in Mercer County is a sister of Isaac. This is at least partially confirmed by her 1850 census record which lists her as born Indiana, and where Isaac and William are with the family. This Crittendon family is gone from Mercer County by 1860.

There was still another LaRue family in Mercer County. In the 1850 census for Eliza Township we find: James LaRue, 33, farmer, born Pennsylvania; Marian, 32, born In; Henry, 12, In; John, 9, In; Amanda, 1, Il. We find a marriage record for James LaRue and Mrs. Amy White on 9/6/1853 in Mercer County. The family is gone from Mercer County by 1860. This brief residence in Eliza Township is another reason for including a LaRue family page here. The family is found again in the 1880 census in Seneca, Nemaha, Kansas: James Larew, 63, driving US mail wagon, born Pa, parents born Md; Amy, 62, born Ohio, parents born Md; James Larew, son, 26, selling lightning rods, born Il, father born Pa, mother born unknown; Ada Wheeler, niece, 24, teaching school, born Ohio, parents born Ohio. The listing of son James’s mother’s birthplace as unknown indicates that he was probably son of James’s first wife, Sarah, and that she probably died in childbirth when James, Jr. was born.

More on Isaac Beard LaRue

Isaac Beard LaRue married Melissa Jane Adams, daughter of Jesse and Sarah Fisher Adams, on 12/31/1857 in Mercer County, but they are not found in the 1860 census in Mercer. From the poem we know that he probably called her "Lizzy." Isaac and Melissa are found in Duncan Township in 1870: #136 Isaac B Larew, 38, farmer, born Indiana; Melissa J. Larew, 30, born Il; Sarah A. Larew, 11, Il; Clara B. Larew, 5, Il; Rachel A. Larew, 1, Il; Gilbert Green, 30, farm laborer, Mi; Vernon Allbee, 16, farm laborer, Il.

In 1880 they were still in Duncan Township: Isaac Larew, 48, born In, father born Md, mother Va; Jane Larew, 40, Il, parents born Pa; Sarrah Larew, 20, Il; Clara Larew, 15, Il; Anna Larew, 11, Il; Lydia, 9, Il; William, 4, Il; Zeb Halsted, 18, born Il, works on farm.

Melissa Burkhalter tells us that Melissa Jane La Rue died about 1881 in a wagon accident. Her death date is confirmed as she was buried in the Latter Day Saints Cemetery in Mercer County. Her tombstone reads: Melissa, wife of Isaac Larue, born March 17, 1840, died March 21, 1881. Isaac remarried but we have not found the record. We did not find him in Iowa or Illinois in the 1900 census. Isaac died in 1903 and is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Millersburg: Isaac B. LaRue, 1832-1903.