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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

"Lost in the Woods"

(Correction: Despite what the blog inferred yesterday, George Zwilling is only 63 years old...Sorry George.)

Asahel Brines was a 19th Century frontier farmer. Remembered as an Illinois pioneer farmer, he grew up on the New York frontier during the first years of the new nation. Asahel, like his older siblings, got his education on the frontier, during the off growing season. At 13 years-old, Asahel and his family's life was hard. As history cites, in 1816, a famine was gripping the community where they lived due to failing crops in what was called "the year without summer."

Even so, Asahel's immediate family grew to a dozen siblings. That very year he began a new adventure, traveling some 660 miles over, at times, treacherous water on a flatboat filled with provisions and his mother's prized English China buried in flour barrels for safe keeping. The Brines and ten other families were once again on the move heading to the Illinois frontier where promises of good timber and game was the draw. His family would help found the Illinois town of Friendsville taming the Edwards County/Wabash County area in the process. At age 18 he met a local farmer's daughter Susan Hull who he married about 1820 in Wabash County, IL. Together they had ten children.

At 26 with 4 children in tow the Brines couple helped pioneer the fledgling Schuyler County, IL. He made the more than 200- mile trip with his brothers Russel and Roswell arriving the day after Christmas 1826, according to an 1859 account. The county had just formed the year before at a time when there was allegedly only "one log hut" and wild animals and Indians roaming the countryside. The Illinois River was frozen over at the time the men arrived to enter the territory. History records the three Brines brothers worked all day cutting the ice that they might float and cross in a flat boat, a distance of about 2,000 feet and the brothers took refuge in the Chadsey settlement near present day Pleasant View. In 1827 he is listed as a member of the Petit Jury for the Schuyler County Circuit Court in Rushville.

By 1830 Asahel had moved to Lawrence County missing the Cholera epidemic that decimated the population just a year before. Moving between Wabash, Schuyler and Lawrence County, Asahel always was on the move. Asahel returned to Wabash County by 1840. It was about this time his first wife died. In August of 1844, he secured 40 acres there, according to a federal land grant. By 1847 he married Susanna Wood, the daughter of a longtime farmer of Wabash County Jeremiah Wood. She had three children from her previous marriage. Asahel and Susanna had four children of their own together. Susanna died in 1860. Asahel wed a third time to Elmira Boxer (Boyer) in February 1861. They had no children. By 1860 he moved his large family back to Lawrence County, IL where he contracted Smallpox and died at the age of 64.

Asahel Brine’s gravestone was found in the woods in Wright/Gaddy cemetery. The stone was broken in pieces and was laying in thick brush. Thanks to Lukin Township and the Jackmans, fence rows have been cleared and the brush cut. Asahel’s stone seemed to be in the proper place; at the end of row #1. The Historical Society had his stone repaired and today, he is no longer “lost in the woods”.

Asa Brines' stone in the woods was broken and almost buried. After the brush was cleared both peices could be found. This is how his stone looks today.

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