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Perry’s Beginnings

Posted October 03, 2012 in Community Featured, Perry

According to a 1949 historical article by E.N. Hastie, our community’s history probably began with a pioneer settlement called Buffalo Grove.

Mr. and Mrs. John Moore of Champaigne County, Ill., along with their family and a few relatives, traveled to this area in the fall of 1849, arriving on Nov. 17. Trees were less plentiful on open prairie then, and they decided to settle at a place known as Buffalo Grove. It was north and east of our present city, along Beaver Creek mostly in southern Boone County, with some in far northern Dallas County. The grove, nine miles long and a quarter mile wide, had walnut, oak and hickory trees and was named as the place the last buffalo in this area fed and were shot. Some of this group of only 17 decided to go east to a thriving community of Xenia.

Perry’s history likely began with a settlement at Buffalo Grove.

Those who wanted to homestead shared a common, crude hut for the winter. Cabins were built in the spring of 1850 and a settlement took shape. It is said plenty of deer, elk and turkey were available for food, while also being killed to protect crops. Within six years, the Moore Cemetery started, a school was built and Union Township of Boone County was formed. A lot of this community was near the present Perry Country Club. A town to be called Unionville was laid out in 1858 but was never developed.

By 1861, two school districts were formed called Lincoln and Douglas. Those districts survived into the mid-1940s, with the one room schools finally being removed in the mid ’50s. Many more settlers had arrived and early promoters of the community besides the Moores were Edward Vail, Calvin Brown and James Morse.

By this time, Alton had started and Perry was plotted. Some residents went into business in Perry. The community’s crops grew but the population did not. Very little specific information is known, and all that is left today is that cemetery. It was cleaned up and restored as much as possible by George Carpenter in 1977.

The cemetary is located on private property, slightly north of the Country Club. The caring landowners keep the plot clean and mowed, and they also maintain access to it. There are likely fewer than 30 graves there, with the most recent found dated 1880. Most of these permanent residents passed on in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s of the 19th century. A Civil War veteran or two are buried there.

The harshness of living in the era is seen by averaging out the age of those who died. Full information just isn’t available, but what can be seen is that the average age of the few recorded deaths was less than 18 years. Doctors and simple medicines were not known commodities, and life was very hard. A few left their homes and families to enlist in the war effort, like Ney Pots, 16, and one of the marked graves at the Moore Cemetery.

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