Highland News Leader

Highland's 'Deck's Prairie' named for Revolutionary War veteran

Roland Harris
Roland Harris

Michael Deck, Revolutionary War veteran and the eponymous settler of Deck’s Prairie is the subject of my column this week, but first I need to tell you about our Highland Home Museum opening next week, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3. Come and see over 4,000 items of Highland memorabilia, the Art Hall, North Farm Room and new cabinet filled with information on local war veterans going all the way back to the Revolution.

I knew about Deck’s Prairie, before I knew why it was called Deck’s Prairie.

One of the special drives that Lorna and I started to take in 1948, after work, would go west on Illinois 143, to Prairie Road, which is just up the hill from Silver Lake, the eastern road of Deck’s Prairie. It is a winding road. We would go past the Schrumpf farm, into the beautiful, shaded wooded drive up to the old Hammer Bridge. (That bridge is no longer there, since Silver Lake was built.) Then, we would take the Hammer Bridge Road, now called Silver Creek Road, east, back to Illinois 160. Or, if we had more time, we would continue north at Hammer’s Bridge to Dan and Minnie Ims Horn’s corner (Cecelia Horn Harris and Kenneth Horn’s parents). Sometimes, we would then go east into Grantfork, where we would stop to have our supper at Diamond Mineral Springs.

Deck’s Prairie was where my great-great-great-grandparents, James and Sophia Bane Reynolds, who had married in Mason County, Kentucky, on March 5, 1804, eventually moved to when they came to Illinois. They had originally settled about two miles west of St. Jacob in 1818. They then settled on the eastern edge of Deck’s Prairie in 1830, purchasing the Abraham Huser farm.

James Reynolds owned the land, starting in the center of Silver Creek, east, to all of today’s Silver Lake Park and Leonard Keeven’s Holiday Manor subdivision. The James Reynolds farm home was originally two log cabins on what is now Memorial Drive in Holiday Manor. The Reynolds milk house spring is still producing water for the Bargetzi Lake.

The Reynolds family gave the Koepfli-Suppiger party who came from Switzerland its first meal on Looking Glass Prairie on Oct. 15, 1831.

My first contact to find out more about Deck’s Prairie, Michael Deck and his wife, Susannah Monger Deck, was Erwin and Louise Weder. They had the information about Deck’s Prairie that I was looking for, as Erwin and his two brothers, Herbert and Eldon, are descendants of Michael Deck.

On July 8, 1974, Louise Weder gave me 18 mimeographed sheets containing the information. Information, courtesy of Louise, follows.

Michael Deck was a volunteer soldier in the Virginia Militia. He enlisted on May 5, 1778, and served some two years and five months, through to the march to Yorktown. Deck was there when England’s Lord Cornwallis’ surrender to Gen. George Washington, marking the end to the Revolution.

Deck, a pensioner on the Illinois roll, received a pension of $66.65 in 1832 and received a pension of $76.60 per year, following the Act of Congress of July 7, 1838.

Deck died April 3, 1843.

Deck and Susannah Monger were married in 1790, and she applied for a widow's pension on Nov. 13, 1843. Susannah Monger Deck died Aug. 6, 1853 at the age of 84.

Ann Mueller Cicero of Marine has information that Susannah received a small pension of $26.66 per year. Ann, the daughter of Larry and Sedelia Weder Mueller, has given three of her father's books to the Highland Home Museum. Larry Mueller is a well know outdoors writer who wrote for several magazines and newspapers, in addition to writing books. Ann’s mother also wrote an eight-page history of the Michael Deck family, with genealogy. A copy of this was also given to the Highland Home Museum.

My next column will continue with Erwin Weder's information about his Deck’s Prairie Foundation and his museum in the old Schott’s Brewery Building. Much of Sedelia Weder Mueller’s family information and excerpts from Ann Mueller Cicero’s new book about Michael Deck, will be my March 12 column.

(Thanks to the late Erwin and Louise Weder, Jean Tabor Oestringer and Ann Mueller Cicero for their information.)