To the right is Claire Derrickson's Mother
and to her right is her Daughter-in-law. (descendants cannot
remember their names).
Mr. Robert Derrickson of Mattoon, Illinois.
He is dressed in his Army uniform.
Left to right, John Grove, Mr. Washburn (standing),
Ed Wells, and B. Hagameier, C. 1902-1904. 1902 Charleston
city directory listed Ed Wells as a laborer residing at 902
Division, Charleston with three family members.
The Philips Family of Charleston, Charles
Philips, Sr. (sitting), Charles Philips Jr. (standing), and
Young Black male musicians who performed
in the 1920's to celebrate the safety record of the New York
Central Railroad. The noon train stopped at the depot in Mattoon.
Dutch Estell in his service uniform, c. 1942.
in trying to picture how many former slaves
came to live on the banks of this little stream, it is helpful to
understand the turbulence the country was experiencing in this ante-bellum
period. Slaves had one priority at this time to get to freedom as
a family. Having suffered agonies of separation from loved ones
for decades, they wanted nothing so much as to gather together their
families and support them by paid labor. As the nation moved towards
war, Kentucky moved into a state of confusion; and slaves began
to escape to the north [as] families, instead of as individuals.
At least in the first 20 years of this settlement, most of the people
seem to be related. (11)-
Other prominent black families were known to have
migrated into Coles County in the late nineteenth century. They
first settled in other parts of Illinois and Indiana before moving
into Coles County. For instance, Job Derixson (also spelled Derrickson)
was born a slave on July 24, 1846 in Nicholas County, Kentucky,
and his brother William Jefferson Derixson was born also as a slave
in 1854 in the same Nicholas County, Kentucky. Along with their
mother, they escaped through the underground railroad into Indiana.
In Indiana, Job married Mary E. Roberts and William Jefferson married
Anna Walden. Both Job and Mary gave birth to ten children. It is
said that four of the ten children died as infants. The remaining
six children, Jasper, Arrillus, Nellie, Fred, Katherine and Samuel
became adults. In 1880 they moved to Jasper County where they were
involved in farming activities. From there the surviving children
moved to Terre Haute, Indiana and Mattoon, Illinois.
Alongside the Derricksons in Mattoon were the Smiths,
the Williams, the Hopgoods, and the Estells. The patriarch of the
Estell family was Peter Estell who was born on March 11, 1817 in
Virginia. Peter married to Lavinia who died on December 20, 1866
in Russell County in Virginia. Peter and Lavinia had eight children
four boys and four girls. An unknown number of Peter's children
died in Virginia. He later left Virginia with his surviving children
to the Midwest in about 1872. The most prominent of their children
was George Washington Estell. He was born on February 10, 1857 in
Washington County, Virginia. His first wife was named Ella Manuel,
who was born on April 2, 1864. They had a son William James Estell
on March 16, 1882. Following the death of Ella in 1883, George remarried
in Terre Haute, Indiana on November 14, 1886. He married Mary Jane
Kirkman. George and Mary Jane had six children Mary, Maude,
George, Harry, Jacob, Charles and Bertha. Writing on his family
history, George Washington Estell stated among other things as follows:
My father belonged to the Cherokee Indian tribe.
He was not a full-blooded Indian however as his mother was an English
woman. My own mother was a colored slave. When she and my father
married he bought her out of slavery for &700. When I was about
fifteen we moved to Champaign County in Illinois near the Douglas
County line. At that time there was a great deal of wild Prairie
land around here. There were some wild animals too, such as deer
and wolves. Later we moved to a farm twelve miles south of Carmago.
Then from Carmago we moved near Toledo. We lived there about six
years farming most of the time. After leaving here we moved to Jasper
County. Shortly after which we came to Mattoon. We have resided
in Mattoon ever since. (12)
From the Williams Family, Sidney Williams moved
to Mattoon about the turn of the twentieth century. His mother was
named Mrs. Mattie Williams, who married Mr. Williams, Sr.. Sidney
married Luvenia Smith and they had four sons Sidney, Robert, Edward
and James; and two daughters Mary Elizabeth and Ethell Mae. The
Williams are related to the Hopgoods by marriage. James and Roberta
had a son named James and a daughter named Judith.
In Charleston, one of those documented was "John
Paxton, his wife Sarah, and child Eliza, who came sometime before
1850." (13) John was a barber. Another prominent black family
in Charleston was Mr. and Mrs. George Nash. George was born in Kentucky
of African and Indian parentage. He left Kentucky for Illinois in
the later part of the nineteenth century. He sired a daughter named
Minnie Nash. Minnie later married one Mr. Stoner with whom she had
a daughter, Ona. Following a divorce, Minnie married Arthur Portee.
Ona married Kenneth "Cracker" Norton, Sr.. Both of them
for many years remained prominent individuals in the Charleston
community. George Nash was said to have died in Charleston and buried
in the Mound Cemetery located on State Street. While there were
more African American families in the county, it is difficult to
locate information on their histories today.