Robert J Cross
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About Robert J Cross
Robert John Cross was born 1 October 1803 in Newburgh, Orange Co., New York, the son of Rev. John Cross and Margaret Hanna Cross.1 He died 15 Feb 1873 in Roscoe, Winnebago Co., IL
On 18 Sep 1836, in Nassau, Rensselaer, NY, he married Hannah BENEDICT. She was born 21 Jul 1812 in Nassau, Rensselaer, NY and she died 4 Oct 1893 in Roscoe, Winnebago Co., IL. She was the daughter of Jacob BENEDICT (b 23 Apr 1779) and Rhoda BEEBE (b 24 Jan 1788)
They had five Children:
1 John CROSS, born 2 Nov 1837 Roscoe, Winnebago Co., IL, in log house and died 22 Jul 1917, probably in Iowa. He was married to Sarah Louisa PELTON (m 12 Oct 1856).
2 Margaret Louise CROSS, born 21 Apr 1839 in Roscoe, Winnebago Co., IL, and died 18 Oct 1918 in Chicago, Cook, IL. she married James M. MCAFFEE (m 22 Mar 1866).
3 William Hanna CROSS, Rev. Born 22 Jul 1842 in Roscoe, Winnebago Co., IL, in log house. He died 2 Jun 1912 in Berkley, Calif. He married: Ellen GOODRICH (m 19 May 1870).
4 Marie Antoinette CROSS born25 Sep 1849 in Roscoe, Winnebago Co., IL She died 1 Sep 1851 in Roscoe, Winnebago Co., IL.
5 Lewis B. CROSS born 31 Oct 1851in Roscoe, Winnebago Co., IL Died 5 Apr 1931 in Wood River, Hall, Neb. He married Lydia BOONE (m 19 Mar 1873).
Robert J Cross Time Line -
Birth - 1 October 1803 in Newburgh, Orange Co., New York, the son of John Cross and Margaret Hanna Cross. 1824 May, he purchased 75 acres from William A. Peck, Ontario County Courthouse, Canandaigua, NY. 1825 June, in Tecumseh, MI, Robert J. Cross, entered four hundred acres of land on section eight. 1826 September, the last day of, came to Tecumseh to make it our home. 1826, During that fall and winter, we built our log cabin. 1830 in the autumn we bought land, and removed to Coldwater in Branch county. 1832 only returning to Tecumseh in to take to my new home the girl who had agreed to share life with me in the pioneer's cabin. 1835, June when he came to his present residence in Winnebago Co., Illinois, (where he continually resided until his death). 1836 August, being a member of the election board for the first election ever held in Winnebago Co., IL. 1836, at their first meeting, He was elected by the County Commissioners, County Treasurer, which position he held for three years. 1836, Sept. 18 he married Miss Hannah Benedict, of Monroe Co., N. Y. 1841 April 13,. Winnebago County Agricultural Society was organized Robert J. Cross, vice-president. 1846, he was elected by the Whigs as a representative to the General Assembly for his county 1847, as the colleague of Hon. Selden M. Church, a delegate to revise the Constitution of the State. 1849 Sent letter to Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. 1862, he was an independent candidate for the position of delegate to the Convention to again revise the constitution but narrowly defeated. 1869 he was unanimously nominated by the Republicans for member of the Convention that formed our present constitution. Later he was nominated by the Republicans and elected one of the three members from Winnebago and Boone Counties to the General Assembly. Chairman of the Board of Supervisors several years, occupying that position at the time of his death. 1873 Feb 15 date of death.
"During his years of minority Robert resided mostly in Bethel, Sullivan Co., of that state."
Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, vol. 2, 1901, an article by Judge Wm. H. Cross: "In the month of June, 1825, just one year from the time of the first settlement of Tecumseh, now fifty-four years ago, my brother, Robert J. Cross, entered four hundred acres of land on section eight. Before making this selection he had been through the south part of Oakland county the northwest part of Wayne County, and all the settlements of Washtenaw county, and finally made choice of a farm in Tecumseh. "On the last day of September, 1826, we came to Tecumseh to make it our home. On Sunday morning, the first day of October, we started up the river on the west side to find our land. We passed Jacob Woodward's ......etc.."
"During that fall and winter (1826), we built our log cabin, and for more than a year and a half it was the extreme cabin of the settlement on the east side of the river, and on the main trail up and down the river, and at least a score of Indians passed our place to one white man....." (He goes on to describe other experiences.)
"In the autumn of 1827, my brother and myself were taken down with the fever and ague, and on writing back to our mother that we were ill, she determined to come and see her sick boys; and in November of that year she came and kept house for us--we having kept bachelor's hall till then. But when winter was over it was the wish of our mother to go to Tecumseh on the Sabbaths to attend meeting, for once in six, then four, and ere long, two weeks we had preaching, and I being the youngest must provide a way to go. So, on Sunday morning I must start out and find the oxen and yoke them to the large lumber wagon; then get mother into the wagon, and start for the school house, which was also the meeting house, and by the time we reached Brownville, we would have a wagon load of women and children, and the men were walking alongside. On arriving at the school house we would chain the oxen to a wheel of the wagon, seat ourselves on the slab benches, and perhaps worship as fervently and acceptably as cushioned pews to rest in, and a hired choir to sing our songs of praise for us. After the service we used to ride home leisurely in the strong carriage, and get home before night....etc."
"In 1829 I took a trip on White Pigeon and Mottsville to haul a load of goods to Mr. Taylor, an Indian trader, located at the Chicago trail and the St. Joseph river, and then I first saw a western prairie, but while the trip was a rough and tedious one, the country so pleased me that my brother and I sold our farms the next year, and in the autumn of 1830 we bought land, and removed to Coldwater in Branch county, only returning to Tecumseh in 1832 to take to my new home the girl who had agreed to share life with me in the pioneer's cabin." (There are about four printed pages of this account, but no more mention of his brother, Robert J. Cross who went to Roscoe area in 1835. I guess their mother came back to Michigan again since the Coldwater history shows she had 80 acres there in 1834 and 162 acres in 1836. Supposedly she died there in 1846 at Ann Arbor.)
From History of Branch Co., Mich., 1879; "Col. A. F. Bolton was the first justice of peace for Coldwater, receiving his appointment in the fall of 1830; Robert J. Cross being the second, of whom it is related that on being proposed for the office he at first declined, but on being pressed accepted on condition that one of his friends, better versed in judicial lore, teach him the difference between a summons and a subpoena....."
"The following entries were made on ground covered by the township: Margaret Cross, 162.73 acres, March 28, 1836; Wm. H. Cross, 40 acres, Oct. 22, 1835; Wm. H. Cross 146.16 acres, Oct. 22, 1835; Margaret Cross, 80 acres, May 15, 1834, Wm. H. Cross, 80 acres, Aug. 27, 1831; Wm. H. Cross, 53.15 acres, Jan. 6, 1836."
The following is a quotation.2 "When about 22 years of age, he with a younger brother, decided to emigrate to the then far West, and going to Detroit, purchased a farm in Tecumseh, Lenawa Co., where he remained until 1830. He and his brother then sold out and removed to Coldwater, Mich., where they remained until June, 1835, when he came to his present residence in Winnebago Co., Illinois, (where he continually resided until his death). The next year he married Miss Hannah Benedict, of Monroe Co., N. Y., who still survives him. (She was a charter member of the Roscoe Congregational Church organised 28 November 1843.)3
At the time Mr. Cross came to Roscoe, no land was in market and he was forced to purchase a squatter's right to his present farm, and as some of the land in Wisconsin was subject to entry in the Green Bay land district, he selected some along the Rock River from Janesville to Beloit, and on foot and alone he made his way to Green Bay, through an unbroken wilderness, and bought his land in Wisconsin. (Click here to view list of his land patents in Rock Co. About 670 acres total.)
From thence via the lakes he returned to Detroit and Coldwater, and in the fall of that year became the occupant of the present homestead. Mr. Cross was essentially a pioneer--a man of strong frame of body, of unyielding tenacity for the right; even in boyhood the champion of the feeble, or those he deemed oppressed.
"He was a stalwart oak, on whom could ever lean the feeble and the frail--as Minister E. B. Washburne declared, a "Noble Old Roman." A farmer all his life, and yet a firm, reliable business man, as a life constantly occupied in public affairs proved him to be. Yet he was ever as tender in heart as a little child, and his sympathy was even larger than his frame, or his purse; and truly was it said of him, those who knew him best, loved him most.
"During his residence of 36 years in this County, Mr. Cross was closely and intimately identified with its development, politically, socially and materially, never being backward in anything that would aid in its moral or religious advancement. A warm friend of education, he always lent a willing hand to aid in building school houses and establishing schools.
Click here to view his own tales about early Roscoe
"Mr. Cross assisted at the organization of the county, being a member of the election board for the first election ever held in it, August, 1836. He was elected by the County Commissioners in 1836, at their first meeting, County Treasurer, which position he held for three years. In 1846, he was elected by the Whigs as a representative to the General Assembly for his county, and in 1847, by them as the colleague of Hon. Selden M. Church, a delegate to revise the Constitution of the State. In 1862, he was an independent candidate for the position of delegate to the Convention to again revise the constitution, but was defeated by a small plurality. In 1869 he was unanimously nominated by the Republicans for member of the Convention that formed our present constitution, and was elected without opposition. Later he was nominated by the Republicans and elected one of the three members from Winnebago and Boone Counties to the General Assembly. In all these legislative bodies he has borne an honorable and conspicuous part.
"In addition to this, Mr. Cross was Chairman of the Board of Supervisors several years, occupying that position at the time of his death.
"He was also township School Fund Trustee for over thirty consecutive years, during which time the township never suffered loss from the funds being loaned on insufficient securities, as was the case in most townships.
"He had five children, John, Margaret, Louisa, William Henry, Marie Antoinette(deceased), and Lewis. The estimation in which he was held was manifest by delegations of early settlers of the county, members of the Board of Supervisors and from the State Legislature, in attendance at his funeral."4
"The first claims against the county were presented at this session, (August 1836).5 Germanicus Kent, Robert J. Cross and J. P. Griggs, as judges of election, and D. A. Spaulding and S. A. Lee, as clerks, were allowed one dollar each...D. A. Spaulding was allowed fifty cents for stationery furnished for poll-books."
"At that time the assessment was made by the county treasurer, and taxes were collected by the Sheriff. R. C. Cross, the treasurer, consumed fifteen days in making this assessment. His compensation was thirty dollars, or two dollars per day. He was also allowed nine dollars and twenty-eight cents, for receiving and disbursing the taxes when collected. This commission was two per cent on four hundred and sixty-four dollars, the amount actually collected."6
The Winnebago County Agricultural Society "was organized April 13, 1841. Dr. Haskell was elected president; Robert J. Cross, vice-president. An exhibition was held on the 13Th. of October. Thus was held, in a single day, the first cattle show in northern Illinois."7
"In pursuance of an act of the general assembly, approved February 20, 1847, a constitutional convention assembled at Springfield, June 7th. of the same year. The delegates from Winnebago county were Selden M. Church and Robert J. Cross... Upon organization of the convention, Mr. Church was appointed a member of the standing committee on the organization of departments and office connected with the executive department; Mr. Cross, a member of the committee on the bill of rights... On June 26Th. Mr. Cross introduced the following resolution: 'Resolved, That the committee on elections and the right of suffrage be instructed to inquire into the expediency of changing the time of holding elections from the first Monday in August to the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, and the manner of voting from 'vive voce' to ballot.' Mr. Cross also led in an effort to secure the new constitution a provision for a state superintendent of schools, with a liberal salary."8
From the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mal/mal_016.txt From Robert J. Cross to Abraham Lincoln1, February 25, 1849 [Note 1 As the only Whig Congressmen from Illinois (one outgoing and one incoming), Lincoln and Edward D. Baker shared control over the state's patronage.]
Roscoe 25th Feby 49 Dear Sir I have forwarded to Col. Baker2 a petition for a change of Post Masters in this place I will take it as a personal favor to me if you will use your influence with the Department to give us a new Post Master as speedily as circumstances will admit the people of this place have been so long imposed upon in the appointment of P. Master by favoritism at Washington that we are quite anxious to have one of our choice appointed. Mr. Wilson for whom we ask the appointment has been acting as deputy for some three years past and has given general satisfaction whilst the P. Master has done nothing except to take the pay for the duties Mr. Wilson has done I have said to Col. Baker that I believe 3/4 of the Whigs have signed his petition I believe 9/10 would be nearer the truth for a history of the management of the appointments in the office in this place I refer you to my letter to the Col. Resp yours Robert J. Cross [Note 2 Edward D. Baker]