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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 Joycelyn Philips.

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.


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