The part women played in assisting the early settlers cannot be
underestimated. By nature not as robust physically as their male companions,
hardships and privations leaned more heavily upon them, but the women of
that day who came with their husbands and families into the loneliness of
what was then the wilderness were equal to the occasion. They helped to
dispel the gloom, the sense of hopelessness which occasionally fell upon the
settlers in their relentless labor.
A woman of such caliber was the subject of our present sketch, the hardships and adventures of whose early career would prove material for a volume.
Catherine Boatman (nee Hanes) of German township, Richland county, Illinois, was born September 9, 1827, in York county, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Daniel and Susanna (Phillips) Hanes. Her grandmother Phillips being the daughter of Eva Elizabeth Reame and John Phillips, died at the age of eighty-seven years. They were all natives of Pennsylvania. Catherine Boatman's mother was born in York county, Pennsylvania, and her father in Philadelphia. Her father remained in Philadelphia until seventeen years of age with his parents; he then went out on a farm and also taught school until his marriage to Susanna Phillips, which was solemnized on August 13, 1822, in Little Rock church, York county, Pennsylvania. They farmed in that state until 1830, when they decided to move to Stark county, Ohio. Catherine, the subject of our sketch, being then three years old. Some time after they again moved to Portage county, Ohio, remaining there three years, when they returned to Stark county, which was their abiding place for nine years. Then they decided to migrate to Illinois. Together with Uncle Peter Sager, his wife and three children; grandfather John Phillips and his wife; Jacob Beck, his wife and family; and their own children, three families in all, consisting of twenty-two people, they started on October 18, 1842, on an eventful overland journey fraught with much danger and hardship. They arrived in Richland county, Illinois, on November 18, 1842, a month later, after encountering a snow-storm and many of the customary hardships. As an instance of endurance on the part of the subject of this sketch, it is recorded that she walked almost the entire way from Ohio with the exception of about fifty miles. Of the twenty-two participants of that journey, but four survive. They are Mrs. Sallie Goss, Mrs. Cassie Goss, Miss Susan Beck and John Beck.
When Catherine Boatman first landed in Richland county, her family first lived with Uncle Dave Phillips for a time, after which they moved to what was known as the Tegue farm, where they lived one year, at the end of which her father entered forty acres in section 21, German township, paying one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre. The farm at the time of his purchase was all timber. He first made a small clearing on which he built a hewn log cabin which still stands, and into which he moved his family. During their first winter there the necessary cooking operations were performed in the stump of a huge tree, which stood close by the door of the cabin.
Daniel Hanes continued to clear his land and to sow and plant wheat and corn as fast as he could get the soil in condition. In the course of time he built a frame addition to the the log house, in which abode they lived until their death. Catherine's mother died April 21, 1864, aged sixty-five. Her father survived about four years, dying August 9, 1868, at age of seventy. Both are buried in Goss graveyard, where grandfather Phillips is also laid. Daniel Hane's parents both died in Portage county, Ohio. He had three children: John, who died at the age of eighty-two; Cassie, who died at the age of seventy-nine, and Catherine, who was the youngest. He also took charge of and raised his brother's son, George Hanes by name, who is now dead.
Catherine remained on the farm with her parents until her marriage to John Boatman, on November 11, 1847, in Richland county. Her husband was born in Columbiana county, Ohio, July 12, 1817, the son of Henry and Elizabeth (Goss) Boatman, natives of Pennsylvania. His grandfather Boatman was a native of France and died at the advanced age of one hundred and three years, his grandfather Goss also died at the ripe old age of ninety-six. John Boatman's parents were married in Columbiana county, Ohio, having both come there with their parents from Pennsylvania. He came to Richland county from Akron, Ohio, with his brother George, the pair walking every step of the way with a package of clothes on their backs and a gun on each one's shoulder. After encountering adventures and privations on the way they arrived in Richland county in April, 1847. George Boatman bought land on which he settled and on which he died in 1884. John bought forty acres from Jacob May in German township, for which he paid him one hundred and twenty-five dollars. It was timbered land and he set to work and cleared, cultivated, and built a house upon it. He later annexed some forty acres of adjoining land and at the time of his death owned a well cultivated property of eighty acres in area. He died September 13, 1896. aged seventy-nine years, two months and one day. His parents, subsequent to his arrival in Illinois, moved to the state where they remained a year, thence moving to Michigan where they died. Catherine Boatman and her husband had thirteen children born to them, one of whom died in infancy. There were seven boys and six girls. In regular order they were: Mary, wife of Stephen D. Best, is a widow and lives at home with her mother; Elizabeth is the wife of Jacob Scherer, of Preston township; David married Delithe English and lives in South Bend, Indiana; Lydia, the wife of Louis Schulte, lives in Claremont township; Susie is the wife of Joseph Wilson, of Preston township; Simon, who is single, lives on the homestead; Isaac lives in German township and is married to Emma Fritz; Maggie is the wife of James Henby, of Preston township; William P. married Mellie Feet, and they live in South Bend, Indiana: Stephen married Rella Krieg and lives at South Whitley, Indiana; John lives at home. Hemarried Julia Wachtel, deceased; Milton is married to Lucy Sager and lives at home; they have one child, Elsie Catherine Boatman. Catherine Boatman died February 1, 1909, aged eighty-one years, four months and twenty-two days. Mrs. Boatman was buried February 3, 1909, and the funeral sermon was preached by her nephew, Rev. Isaiah Boatman, of Eaton Rapids, Michigan. She reared twelve children, all of whom are still living. She had thirty-three grandchildren and twenty-five great-grandchildren; the eldest grandchild, David I. Scherer, being thirty-seven years old and the youngest. Elsie Catherine Boatman, was born July 21, 1908.
Catherine Boatman went to the subscription schools in Ohio in her young days, where she did not go very high. She learned to read, write and spell, that being the extent of her education. She could not find time to be a regular attendant. She and her family were among the earliest settlers in Richland county. She could well lay claim to being its "grand old woman." In her early days the country possessed is quota of wild and ferocious animals, and the picturesque figure of the Indian had not faded from the vicinity.
Always a strictly religious woman, she was a member of the Lutheran church since she was sixteen years of age, having been one of the first to enter the St. James Lutheran church in Claremont township. Her communion class which numbered twenty-two communed in the old log church many, many years ago. Her companions of the class are now all dead with the exception of two: Michael Eyer and Chris. B. Balmer.
For years Catherine Boatman's home life was happy; quiet and peaceful a fitting close to a useful life. Her name is a household word in Richland county, with whose history it has been closely entwined from the earliest years.
Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 407-410.