William Thomas, a prominent citizen in Jacksonville, Ill., served as a circuit judge, a member of the Illinois General Assembly, and a trustee of several state institutions in Jacksonville.
In this reminiscence, Thomas recalled his horseback journey from Kentucky to Illinois, and his first year, 1826-27, as a school teacher and lawyer in Jacksonville. On the way, he visited New Harmony, Ind., the Owenite community, which was "on the wane." In Belleville, he met Ninian Edwards, and in Edwardsville he was licensed to practice law by Samuel Lockwood. He noted the people and towns through which he traveled (including a drunken group of "Macoupinites" in Carrollton).
Thomas mentioned many acquaintances in early Jacksonville, and commented on the split in the town between "yankees" from the north and east (who supported John Quincy Adams) and "white people" from the south and west (who supported Andrew Jackson). In the spring and fall of 1827, he practiced law in the counties of western Illinois that comprised the First Circuit. In the summer, he briefly served as a volunteer in the Winnebago War.
Thomas's memoir of "Early Times" was published in the Apr. 18, 1877, issue of the Jacksonville Weekly Journal, a 16-page transcription of which was collated by Solon J. Buck in 1913.