REV. Barton H. Cartwright, of Oregon, the pioneer M.E. Preacher of Northern Illinois and Iowa, of 1833-34, was born near Auburn, N.Y., March 9, 1810, and is the son of James and Catherine (Gray) Cartwright. His father was a Baptist Minister of New York and died in 1822. Thrown upon his own resources at the age of 12 years, Barton H. began in this world for himself, working for his board and clothing. He was promised schooling also, but was disappointed and obliged to make his way without educational advantages. After he was 14 years of age he earned wages ranging from $4 to $10 per month. In 1829, he united with the Methodist Episcopal Church and became impressed with the desire to become a preacher. He exhorted and made his maiden effort in his holy calling in his native State. In March, 1833, he determined to seek his fortune in the West. With a limited purse, his knapsack and staff, he walked from Syracuse, N.Y., to Olean Point, on the Alleghany River. From there he took a flat boat to Pittsburgh, and from thence down the Ohio River by steamboat. He met the Indian Chief Black Hawk at Cincinnati who was a prisoner of War and on his way to Washington. He shook hands with the old warrior and met him on many subsequent occasions. He partly worked his passage as a deck hand on a Mississippi steamer and left the boat at the Flint Hills, now Burlington. He had a brother living at the Flint Hills, on a claim which he had made the year previous, and his object in stopping at this point was to visit him. He passed the first night beside a pile of logs near the river and the following morning made his way to his brother's cabin. As the land on the Iowa side of the river, then called the "New Purchase" would not be open for settlement until the following June, he determined to go to Warren County, this State. Having reached his destination he started out the following Sunday to walk several miles to attend a meeting at a cabin near Monmouth. He found the preacher who was to have officiated lying sick in a loft above the room where service was to be held. Showing his Church letter he was warmly welcomed and requested to conduct the services, which he did. He thus began his ministerial career in Illinois, on the first Sunday in May, 1833. Mr. C. soon bought four pairs of oxen and a breaking plow and broke prairie week days and preached Sundays, frequently traveling 50 miles on that day. In the spring of 1834, he was appointed a Missionary by Peter Cartwright to go to Iowa and establish Church Societies. Starting in the early spring with four yoke of cattle, a breaking plow, and a wagon load of "provender" he crossed into Iowa, a very practical sort of Missionary. As no Mission fund or other means of compensation existed, he went prepared to sustain himself by his own efforts, which he did, arriving at the "Flint Hills" early in the spring of 1834. He there organized the first Protestant Christian Society in the Territory of Iowa. He came to Rock Island and in the log cabin of Judge Spencer, he preached the first sermon ever heard at Rock Island. In the fall of that year, 1834, he was admitted to the Methodist Episcopal Illinois Conference, which at that time embraced all of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. He was assigned to the Knoxville Mission, this State, which embraced what is know Henderson, Warren, Knox, and Mercer Counties, and entered upon his duties in the fall of 1834. In 1836 he was on the circuit embracing Pike and Calhoun Counties of this State. In December of the same year he constructed a rude sleigh called a "pung" or "jumper" which was formed by cutting two saplings and bending them for runner and thills. Having no harness he fastened the rig to the sides of the saddle on his horse and with this unique conveyance he traveled 1,200 miles, starting from near Peoria, Ill., and traversed Illinois, Michigan, Canada, and New York. He sold his horse in New York in the spring of 1837, made his way on foot again to Olean Point, ran the river on a raft to Pittsburgh and thence returned to Illinois. In the conference of 1837-38 he was assigned to the Buffalo Grove Circuit which included in its territory the towns of Oregon, Dixon, Sterling, Fulton, Mt. Morris, and many other settlements. He organized the first religious society at Sterling, and at other points in Northern Illinois and Iowa. His compensation was $ 50 the first year and for a number of years it did not exceed $ 75, while his duties were arduous. In 1840, he was assigned to Iowa as a Mission Preacher. He crossed the Mississippi by swimming his horse by the side of a skiff and subsequently was obliged to swim across many of the Iowa streams, going from cabin to cabin holding meetings among the settlers. He spent four years in Iowa. His field of laboe extended along the river to Iowa and as far Westward as he could find settler's cabin, embracing Dubuque, Davenport, Rockingham, Muscatine, Maquoketa and Iowa City. He preached the first sermon at the last named place, which then consisted of a few board shanties. In 1844, Mr. Cartwrightreturned to Illinois, where he continued to labor, stopping first at Prophetstown, next going to Knox County, filling various charges, and in 1850 returned to Buffalo Grove. He continued in active service in filling various appointments until the spring of 1863, when he was commissioned Chaplain of the 92nd Regiment Ill., Vol. Mounted Infantry and served with that Regiment until the close of the war. He was with Sherman and Kilpatrick in the famous march to the sea. He was a universal favorite of the Regiment, having won his way to the hearts of his comrades by his genial good nature and warm interest in their temporal as well as spiritual welfare. On his return from the war, he again took up the burden of his calling in the paths of peace and resumed the ministry in the Rock River Conference, where he was in active service until 1883, when having reached the age of 73 years, at his request his name was placed upon the list of Superannuates. Being in vigorous health, in full possession of his name of his faculties he has however continued in active service as opportunity offered, and is now in his 76th year. Mr. Cartwright married Miss Chloe J. Benedict, daughter of Stephen Benedict, the ceremony being performed on the 10th day of April, 1839, in Ogle County. Mrs. Cartwright lost her father in childhood, and came to Lafayette Grove with her mother and step-father James Clark in 1835. She was the first school teacher in what is now Ogle County, having taught her first school in the spring of 1836, at Lafayette Grove, then a part of Jo Daviess County. Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright have had eight children, four sons, and four daughters, only six of whom are living. The following is a brief record:
Ellen is the wife of Frank W. March, of Taylor Township, Ogle County; James H., married Hattie Holmes and is a Attorney at Oregon; Charles B., is single, and lives in the State of Montana; Orville married Mary Russell, and lives in the State of Oregon; Clara, died at age four years; Imogene, died aged one year; Alfred is single, and lives at Quincy, Ill.; and Emily the youngest, aslo resides in Quincy. Mr. Cartwright is a Democrat in political belief, his first vote being cast for Andrew Jackson. He continued to vote with the Democrats until the organization of the Republican party in 1856, when he voted for Fremont, and has voted with that party ever since. Mr. Cartwright has made his home in Ogle County for 50 years and has resided in Oregon permanently since 1883. Probably in all the region of Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa, there is no man living more widely and favorably known among the early settlers than the Rev. Barton H. Cartwright. A man of quick perception, shrewd common sense and kindly good nature, his advent was always welcomed at the settlers' cabin or in the frontier hamlet. Many an inexperienced settler was obliged to him for practical hints in the every day affairs of life, as well as for spiritual instruction. It is said of him that no man in the country could adjust a prairie breaking plow as well as Parson Cartwright, and that his sensible advice and timely aid helped many a man out of bad scrape. Lacking the advantages of schools and colleges in his early life, he was self taught and happily possessing keen perceptive faculties, sound common sense and a mind capable of being developed and perfected by the wide range of observation of men and things afforded him in his profession of mission preacher, he acquired a practical knowledge of the people among whom he labored, that peculiarly fitted him to address them in a manner that both interested and instructed. Mr. Cartwright is a man of original ideas, which he expresses in simple but graphic language. His style is earnest, forcible and logical with no attempt at display, the evident sincerity and honesty of his words making them more effective often than the most studied efforts of men of greater culture and finer polish. His zeal and industry made him indefatigable. No ordinary obstacle ever prevented his performance of a duty while difficulties and danger seem only to have added enjoyment to his labor.
Return to Ogle Co. Genealogy Site