Orendorff, Oliver


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  • Name  Orendorff, Oliver 
    Gender  Male 
    Person ID  I2123  Poore Maddox
    Last Modified  24 Aug 2012 

    Family  Hendrix, Sarah Lovina Sales,   b. 1831 July 24, MClean Co. Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Orendorff, Mary J
    Family ID  F1524  Group Sheet

  • Notes 

    • Oliver Hazard Perry Orendorff.

      Oliver H. P. Orendorff" was born May 16, 1822, in Washington
      County, Illinois. When he was about one year old his father
      came to that part of Fayette County, which now forms the coun-
      ty of McLean, and settled at Blooming Grove. This was on the
      second of May, 1823. Mr. O. H. P. Orendorff" has lived here
      €ver since. The first school he attended was kept by William
      H. Hodge. Books were then scarce in the West and the one
      Oliver studied was an old fashioned almanac. He was rather a
      precocious youth and his memory goes back to an early period.
      He remembers when David Cox came to the country, which was
      in September, 1826. Mr. Orendorff went to school to Mr. Hodge,
      when it was kept about a mile distant. He was then very small,
      and at one time, when the weather was cold, he would have been
      frozen to death, had he not been dragged to the school-house by
      his sister and Maria Dawson.

      The great hurricane, which swept through Blooming Grove
      came on the nineteenth of June, 1827. Although the house,
      where the Orendorffs lived, was not in the immediate track of
      the hurricane, it blew there fearfully. While it was coming up
      even the beasts of the field understood the danger. The Oren-
      dorff" boys, who were at home alone, had just driven up the
      cattle, and when the dumb creatures saw the coming storm they
      took refuge in a new and unoccupied log house. The hurricane
      unroofed the houses of William Evans and William Walker
      although they were not in its immediate track. It passed through
      the timber and piled up the trees in some places twenty feet
      high. I^othing in the forest could stand before it. The Vrees
      were broken and twisted and torn. About nineteen days after-
      wards as Mr. William Orendorff' and some others were looking
      at the wreck of the scattered timber, they found a hog pinned
      fast to the ground by the limb of a tree and much bruised and
      unable to move. The logs were cut and it was released from
      confinement and afterwards made a fine porker. The width ot
      the hurricane was about half a mile and its length no one knows.


      Its direction was almost due east. It passed through Blooming
      Grove at about twilight in the evening.

      During the winter of the deep snow Mr. Orendorff went to
      school to Cheney Thomas through the timber. After the heavy
      snow fell a road' was broken and the little Orendorffs by passing
      back and forth kept the road clear. But outside of the timber
      no road remained broken longer than a few hours, as the snow
      drifted over it. The Orendorlf family suffered very little during
      this winter, but many families were so distressed with the cold
      and lack of corn that they allowed their cattle to take care
      of themselves. The corn crop during the season previous was
      very tine, but the season following was so cold and short by
      reason of the length of time required to melt away the deep
      snow, that very little corn came to maturity. The suftering
      caused by the diificulty of obtaining food was sometimes ex-
      treme. A man named Rook, who lived on Rook's Creek about
      twenty miles north of Lexington, became short of provisions,
      and it seemed that his family must starve. He made himself
      some snow shoes, took a hand sled and walked twenty miles to
      where Lexington now is, and there found corn which he took
      home to his starving family.

      Mr. Orendorff has a lively recollection of the Indians, and
      particularly of two squaws, Aunt Peggy and Aunt l^Tancy.
      These squaws were pretty well educated, and it is said that, while
      listening to a backwoods preacher, they amused themselves by
      criticising his grammatical blunders. They often came to the
      house of Mrs. Orendorff (mother of Oliver) and helped her wash
      and do her work. They were particularly pleased with children,
      and greatly admired every likely looking white papoose. They
      took a great fancy to Oliver, and wished to bring him up and
      make an Indian chief of him.

      Mrs. Orendorff' died on the 9th of ISTovember, 1831, and this
      sad event affected Oliver very deeply.

      Oliver Orendorff" had a somewhat adventurous disposition.
      When he was very young he went with his brother James with
      a six horse team to St. Louis for a load of goods for Greenberry
      Larison. They passed through Springfield, which was then a
      village of log huts. In 1834 he went Avith a party of drovers to
      White Oak Springs, near Galena, with a lot of hogs. Tliey

      m'lean county. 165

      crossed Rock Riv^er at Dixon's Ferry, and there Mr. Orendortt"
      saw old Father Dixon, then the only white inhabitant at that
      point. At Kellogg's Grove, where during the Black Hawk war
      Colonel Dement had fought the Indians with his Spy Battalion,
      he saw the bones of horses and a human skull. Although Oli-
      ver was only twelve years of age, he was taken along with these
      drovers for something besides amusement ; it was his business to
      take care of a team. He was then a "sassy" little driver, but
      hardy and tough. He had no remarkable adventure on the way.
      He often went to Chicago, was once seventeen days on his jour-
      ney, and received only fifty cents a bushel for his wheat. Of
      course he always camped out on these expeditions.

      During the sudden change in the weather in December,
      1836, Oliver OrendorfF was at school. The ground was covered
      with slush and water, and young Benjamin Cox made a wish
      that the weather would turn cold, and freeze over the creek. It
      did turn cold, so cold that many of the scholars could not go
      home ; the little Orendorffs were "weather-bound," and staid over
      night at William Michael's. The following morning Oliver went
      home on horseback, and while crossing a creek his horse broke
      through the ice at a riffle and at the same time went under a low
      hanging limb of a tree which brushed Oliver from the horse's
      back. Unfortunately he got his boot full of water, but hemount-
      ed his horse and rode home, a half a mile distant, on the
      keen run. When he arrived there his boot was frozen fast to
      his foot, and he had great difiiculty in pulling it off.

      During the famous wet season of 1844, Mr. Orendorff moved
      the goods and stock of an aunt of his to Iowa. He started on
      the 9th of May, walked the whole distance and with his cousin
      drove twentj^head of cattle. They waded and swam the sloughs
      and creeks, and crossed the Illinois River by wading, ferrying
      and swimming. The horses attached to their wagon went
      through with much kicking, and scratching, but came out safe
      at last. He returned home by the fourth of June, and says that
      daring all the time he was gone his clothes were never once en-
      tirely dry. He helped his uncle plant corn before he started,
      and on his return helped his father plant corn, as the ground had
      been difficult to plow on account of the wet.

      The first camp-meeting Mr. OrendorfiP ever attended was held


      on the place Avhere he now lives. The Rev. Peter Cartwright
      was present, and preached in his most interesting and humorous-

      Mr. Orendorff married, April 1, 1847, Sarah Levina Hendrix^
      the daughter of John and Jane Hendrix, the first settlers within
      the limits of the present McLean County. The marriage was
      celebrated at the home of Mrs. Jane Hendrix, near where Mr.
      Orendorff now lives. They have had two children, one daugh-
      ter and one son, both of whom are now living. They are :

      Mrs. Mary Jane Cox, wife of William M. Cox, lives near
      the line between Bloomington and Randolph townships.

      George Perry Orendorff lives at the homestead with his

      Mr. Orendorff is five feet and ten and one-half inches high,
      is not heavily built, seems to enjoy a fair degree of health, and
      appears pretty muscular and well developed. He is very posi-
      tive in his opinions, is a man of good sense, is very kind and
      sociable and ready to do a favor, thinks a great deal of old
      times and the old settlers, and is himself one of the best of
      them. He works hard, is careful and thrifty, and is blessed
      with a fair portion of the world's goods.

      Found in history of McLean co onlineMr. Orendorff" was married four times. He first married in
      Kentucky in about the year 1811 Miss Sally Nichols. By this
      marriage he had three children, James, Elizabeth and William.
      She died not long afterwards. He next married in Illinois
      Miss Lovina Sayles, in about the year 1819, and by this mar-
      riage had five children, two boys and three girls. They were

      m'lean county. 151

      Sarah, Oliver, Lewis, Mary J. and Nancy. His wife Lovina died
      November 9, 1831. In 1834 he married Miss Susan Ogden,
      and by this marriage had two children, Christopher and Mar-
      garet. She died not long afterwards. On his sixty-second
      birth-day Mr. OrendorfF married Miss Naomi Abel and by this
      marriage had four children, Francis, Orrin, Emma and William.
      Four of his children are now living in McLean County. James
      K Orendorff, Oliver H. P. OrendorfF and John Lewis Orendorff
      live at or near Blooming Grove. Christopher Orendorff lives
      near Cheney's Grove.

      Mr. Orendorff was a man of great popularity and had many
      friends. He took great pleasure in entertaining everyone who
      came to his house. He loved to see their friendly faces and
      probably thought that the most perfect happiness consisted in
      giving the people of the earth a good dinner and enjoying
      their smiles and friendly greetings. He had indeed a generous
      disposition, too generous for his own good. He was always
      ready to help and assist. This disposition made him a man of
      great popularity and influence. He became, not long before
      his death, a member of the Methodist church; he had pre-
      viously inclined to universalism. He died May 12, 1869, in the
      seventy-eighth year of his age.

      Thomas Orendorff and John Berry Orendorff.

      Thomas Orendorff was born August 14, 1800, in Spartan-
      burg, South Carolina. His father's name was Christopher
      Orendorff and his mother's, before her marriage, was Elizabeth
      Phillips. His father was of German descent, and his mother
      was American. His father had a family of twelve children, all
      of whom grew to be men and women. The Orendorff family
      left Spartanburg before Thomas was seven years old ; neverthe-
      less he remembers much of the place, and particularly calls to
      mindafireinthethickly wooded pine forest. This fire was grander
      than any prairie fire he has ever seen in the West. Impressions
      made upon children are sometimes very lasting. Mr. Oren-
      dorff remembers a preacher by the name of Golightly, who
      did indeed go lightly upon his religion, for he became very
      worldly minded. Mr. Orendorff remembers very well the ne-


      groes of South Carolina, who were very kindly treated and lived
      in comfortable quarters.

      In about the year 1807 the Orendorff family moved west of
      the Cumberland Mountains, to Franklin County, Tennessee.
      The land there was owned principally by speculators, and had
      been surveyed in large tracts, so the Orendorff family took a
      new departure, and in 1811 came to Kentucky. The country was
      then very wild. He remembers that two little boys were lost in
      the mountains, one a white and one a negro, and were not found
      until nearly starved to death. Religious excitement sometimes
      became very high in Kentucky, and at revivals the most out-
      rageous antics would be performed. People would dance and
      jerk and run and fall on the floor.

      It was in the year 1811 that the earthquake of New Madrid
      occurred and the shocks were plainly felt in Kentucky. They
      felt the earth shake and heard noises similar to distant thunder.
      Mr. Orendorflf afterwards saw many chimneys, which had been
      shaken down on the American bottom opposite St. Louis, but
      the earthquake did no particular damage in Kentucky. After
      raising one crop in Christian County, the Orendorff family
      moved to Henderson County, Kentucky, near the site of the
      present town of Hendersonville, and remained there until the
      spring of 1817, when they came to Illinois. They stayed one
      year on the Little Wabash, and in the spring of 1818 came to
      St. Clair, east of Belleville. In the spring of 1819 Thomas
      Orendorft" went to Sangamon County, and the family followed
      in the fall. It was then called the Saint Gamy country, but the
      words were afterwards united by common usage and became
      Sangamon. Their occupation was fighting mosquitoes, breaking
      prairie, splitting rails, &c. At that time very few settlers had
      come to Sangamon County; but during the year 1820 they came
      in very fast. That part of the country was then very wet, and
      Thomas Orendorff determined at once to find a better loca-
      tion. In 1823 he and his brother William mounted their horses
      and came to Blooming Grove, then called Keg Grove, where
      they found two settlers, Dawson and Hendrix. They looked
      over the country for some time, and at last Thomas found a spot
      at Blooming Grove that suited him, and said : "There's my
      claim," and took it. This is the place now owned by Stephen

      m'lean county. 153

      Houghton. William Orendorff bought a claim for fifty dollars
      in the southeast of Blooming Grove and settled there. Thomas
      Orendorff returned twice to Sangamon County, and the last
      time brought the family of William Orendorff from there to
      Blooming Grove, where they arrived on the second of May,

      When Thomas and William Orendorfl" settled in McLean
      County the old chief of the Kickapoos came with Machina (af-
      terwards their chief) and ordered them to leave. But the old
      chief spoke English in such a poor manner that Thomas Oren-
      dorff told him to keep still and let Machina talk. Then Machina
      drew himself up and said in his heavy voice : "Too much come
      back, white man. T'other side Sangamon." Mr. Orendorff told
      Machina that the latter had sold the land to the whites ; but
      Machina denied it, and the discussion waxed warm, and the
      chiefs went away feeling very much insulted. Mr. Orendorffs
      friends considered his life very much in danger, and he was
      advised to leave the country by Judge Latham, the Indian
      agent, but he attended to his business and was not molested. At
      one time an Lidian, called Turkey, came to Mr. Orendorff and
      gave him warning that Machina would kill him ; but no attempt
      was made to put such a threat into execution.

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