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Robert Downing, farmer, section 2, was born in Woodbridge, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, December 3, 1793. He is a son of John and Hannah (Frakes) Downing, who removal to what is now Ross County, Ohio, about the commencement of the present century. Here Robert Downing grew to manhood, accustomed to farm work and wood-craft. In 1813 he enlisted in an 0hio battalion and served some months in the war of 1812. He is now one of the few surviving pensioners of that struggle. In 1822, he came with his father and two brothers from Madison County Ohio, to Salt Creek, Logan County (then Sangamon County), Illinois. They came with horse teams and covered wagons, crossing Indiana, then a wilderness, with scarce any vestige of improvement. The settlers on Salt Creek were Patrick Frakes, Nicholas Moore and James Scott, with their families. Mr. Downing entered eighty acres and began life in an unhewn log house, floored with puncheons and roofed with clapboards. Springfield, thirty miles sea west, a small "huddle" of log buildings, was the nearest "town," their county-spat and postoffice. During the first year the corn for these settlers was pounded on a log by means of a spring pole and wooden pestle. In 1824 Mr. Downing hauled a load of oats and a quantity of butter to Chicago, receiving three "bits" for oats and a "bit" for butter. Cows, pigs and chickens were almost unknown luxuries among them for a year or two. About 1826 Mr. Downing went to the "lead region," where he spent two years and found pork worth $18 per barrel and flour at $12, and general hard times prevailing. One pair of boots lasted him all this time, and those he made himself from a rudely cut and sewed cow-hide. With money earned here he yeas enabled to "prove" on his pre-emption, the patent, signed by Andrew Jackson, being still in the family. Mr. Downing's present homestead now comprises 540 acres. The substantial farm house was built in 1851; the old place with its village of barns and the native timber surrounding it presents a most homelike and picturesque appear. Robert Downing is a man who is nearing the end of life in the enjoyment of the fullest respect of all who know him, and a type of the brave and resolute pioneers of Illinois. His wife, Jane (Morrow) Downing, was born in the State of New York and died in 1881. She was a faithful helper in the stormy days of frontier troubles, and a trusted companion in the later and brighter days. Of their children, the eldest was John M., born on Salt Creek, September 22, 1822, dying fifty-seven years later; Hannah, born March 3, 1828, is also dead; Mary, born August 3, 1827, is the wife of George Roberts; Lorenzo, born December 27, 1829, is a farmer in Logan County; Alexander, born February 26, 1832, is was a carpenter in Lincoln, Illinois. He, served three years in the Rebellion and came out a Sergeant of the One Hundred and Sixth, Illinois Infantry; Melita, born March 26, 1834, is the widow of Thomas Downing, of Mount Pulaski Township; Clay, born August 10, 1838, unlisted in the One Hundred and Sixth Illinois Infantry and died in the service; Elizabeth, born February 24, 1839, is the wife is of Samuel Downing, of Chester Township; Delilah, born February 10, 1842, is the wife of David Shellhamer; R. Harden Downing, born August 9, 1844, is owner of a large farm and manager of the homestead. Father and sons have been Republicans since the organization of the party.
Source: History of Logan County, Illinois. Chicago: Inter-State Publishing Company . pp. 786-87.
Submitted by Cheryl Rothwell who is the great great great granddaughter of Robert Downing.