1912 History of Southern Illinois
GENERAL DANIEL H. BRUSH. [Page 1398]
Every town or city of consequence which is not the sudden and recent
product of trade conditions venerates the memory of some sterling, though it
may be rugged, founder who, anticipating the tide of immigration which has
flowed from the Atlantic seaboard steadily toward the sunset until it has
overspread the whole country, planted his foot in the wilderness and there
hewed out for himself a new home wherein his hopes might expand and
flourish. These were men of heroic mold, fashioned by their time for sturdy
work fit progenitors of the people they begot. No toil deterred, no danger
daunted, no hardship dismayed them. With unyielding will they pressed their
way over every obstacle, often challenging Fate herself into the lists, and
meeting her on almost equal terms.
The dreams that impelled them to and sustained them in their perilous
undertakings we may not know, for they have left no record of them. Perhaps
they were inspired only by hope of immediate gain, and saw no farther. It
may be that some of them sought naught but relief from the irksome
restraints of society in the wild life of the forest. Yet men of either of
these classes must have awakened to wider vision in their close communion
with Nature, and come to see themselves, as many others must have seen them,
the planters of new communities, the patriarchs of people, to pass away in
their time but to be revered ever afterward, and, remote from the period
when their wasted tenements were laid to rest, to be kept standing in the
gaze of posterity, heroic figures, dimly glorious, far up the valley of
years. To this class belongs General Daniel H. Brush, the founder of
Carbondale. He had both the lessons of the past and the impressive events of
what was the present to him to give him hints of what might happen anywhere
in this country. But he had also a wide sweep of vision and foresight, and
it must have revealed to him much for what he was preparing the way,
extravagant as his view might have looked to others.
General Brush was born at Vergennes, Vermont, in 1813, and in 1820 moved
with his parents to Illinois. In 1836 he married Miss Julia Etherton, of
Jackson county, and in 1852 they moved into the county from their former
home and took up their new residence in a small settlement which had not
then a name, but which subsequently, through his enterprise, became
Carbondale and received its geographical baptism from him. He and ten other
men acquired the land on which the city now stands, and, after due
deliberation, determined to lay out a town on it.
Being a strong temperance man, Mr. Brush, for he was not then a general, had
incorporated in each contract for the sale of a town lot a provision
forbidding the traffic in intoxicating liquors as a condition of the sale.
He also looked after the moral and religious welfare of the town in another
important respect, by making provision for four churches and setting aside a
lot for each of them when he laid out the village he was starting as the
nucleus of the city he hoped would follow.
In 1856 he was chosen trustee and a member of the building committee for the
erection of a Presbyterian church. The facilities for building were meager
and the structure was not completed until 1859, but it was dedicated on July
12 of that year. On December 18, following, he was elected ruling elder of
the congregation. Thus was started in motion the beneficent force that has
resulted in the present large congregation of the Presbyterian sect in the
city and the splendid church edifice which it uses.
Up to this time his work in connection with his bantling was one of peace
and progress only. But the time was near at hand when he would be called to
sterner duties and take the flower of the community with him. When the Civil
war began the whole of his following was against the partition of the Union,
and he raised a company of volunteers in and around Carbondale to assist in
defending it against this disaster. This became Company K, Eighteenth
Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and he was chosen captain of it by the united
voice of its members.
The command was soon at the front and engaged in active hostilities,
although it was formed in response to the first call of President Lincoln
for volunteers. At the battle of Fort Donelson in 1862, Captain Brush
received a rather serious wound which disabled him for service for a time.
On his recovery and return to the company he was promoted major for his
bravery in the engagement. At the battle of Shiloh he commanded the regiment
and received another wound. He recovered from this, however, in time to take
part in the battle of Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1863 he resigned from the
army, and was discharged with the rank of brevet brigadier general.
When he left the military service he returned to Carbondale, and thereafter
served Jackson county for a number of years as county and circuit clerk. In
1867 his wife died, and in 1868 he married a second time, being united in
New York on this occasion with Miss Elizabeth Ward, a Carbondale lady, with
whom he lived in domestic happiness until 1879, when he was killed by a
falling tree in the yard of his home. General Brush did more for Carbondale
than any other one man. He was a merchant and helped to give the town
mercantile importance. He also dealt extensively in land, and in this way
aided greatly in developing and improving the surrounding country. He was an
earnest advocate of everything that was good and was universally beloved.