- Born: Abt 1805
- Marriage: Unknown
- Buried: Missouri
The following submitted by Violet BROWNE, Holiday, FL
and was taken from The Journal Press newspaper at New Athens,
LIVELY MASSACRE FULLY DESCRIBED
January 24, 1936
Part 1 -- First Settler in the Old Athens Precinct; Together with His
Family Killed by Indians in Washington County.
At last Thursday night's meeting of those chosen to procure the
historical data for the New Athens Centennial Celebration, it was found
that JOHN LIVELY was the first white settler in Old Athens Precinct,
coming here with his family from South Carolina in 1805.
It was also discovered that Indians later killed this same JOHN LIVELY,
his wife, two daughters and a son in the famous massacre in Washington
Co. The story of this bloody affair was published in the anniversary
edition of the Okawville Times of December 21, 1933 and we herewith
reprint the story in full through the courtesy of the editor of that
flourishing newspaper, GROVER BRINKMAN
Two brothers-in-law, JOHN LIVELY and DAVID HUGGINS, one of whom resided
in the northeastern part of Randolph County and the other in the
southeastern part of Saint Clair County, realized that their growing
herds must be taken to less populated areas, so in the year 1810, they
moved eastward. For their new home they finally decided on a place on
the west side of the timber along Crooked Creek, about two miles above
the spot where the creek empties into the Kaskaskia River. The spot was
about the same distance southeast of where the town of Old Covington was
The country was rolling timberland, interspersed with grassy prairie as
a spring nearby promised cold water the year round, with a good sized
creek as an ample reserve. Here they made their rude cabins and barns,
planted their small fields and lived in peace and contentment.
There always was the fear of an Indian uprising, but both LIVELY and
HUGGINS were hardy pioneers and entertained little fear in that respect.
There were vague rumors that the Indians were restless and clamoring for
the warpath, but little credence was given the stories. Nearby ran a
famous Indian trail, over which roving bands traveled north and south,
but HUGGINS and LIVELY continued to homestead beside the little creek,
confident that they would not be molested, laughing at the fears of
their womenfolk, and disregarding the stories of scouts and trappers,
who told of the restlessness of the more savage tribes to the north.
However, in the spring of 1813, it became evident that trouble with the
Indians could not be avoided.
A nearby Ranger post for a time gave limited protection, but after some
months this proved to be inadequate and LIVELY and HUGGINS began to
seriously discuss the subject of leaving their homes and seeking
protection at the Fort at Hill's Station in Randolph County. Washington
County at that time was a virgin timberland, and LIVELY and HUGGINS were
the only white families living within its boundaries.
HUGGINS at last was in favor of going to the Fort, but LIVELY thought it
was a needless precaution. Finally HUGGINS took his family & removed to
the settlement at the Fort, which was located near the present site of
Fayetteville. LIVELY with his family, which consisted of his wife, two
sons and two daughters and a hired man, remained behind, despite the
fact that the nearest settlers were at Shoal Creek, on the northwest,
and HILL'S STATION on the South, either of which was 30 or 25 miles distant.
LIVELY was a rugged frontiersman,
brave and reckless. He continued to laugh at HUGGINS' fear, and made a
statement that with his long-barreled squirrel rifle and his dogs that
he could lick twenty of the savages. After HUGGINS left, LIVELY and his
family lived on at the spring, unmolested. In fact everything was so
quiet that it appeared that HUGGINS' removal had been without cause.
Only LIVELY'S wife seemed to possess a stranger insight into the future,
and she continued to admonish her husband to move out while there was
Part II - January 31, 1936 Journal Press, New Athens, Illinois.
LIVELY had a corral into which he nightly drove his stock to protect it
from any marauding bands of Indians. In July the stock began to get
restless at night. LIVELY realized that something was causing this
unrest, but he could not ascertain the cause, much as he tried. He
sought to quiet his wife's growing fears by telling her it was nothing
but wolves, which were numerous then, but she would not be convinced.
She pleaded with him to start at once to the Fort.
LIVELY, too, was beginning to lose some of his composure. Then one night
the stock were so noisy that it was time to comply with his wife's
request. The family began preparations for moving about two hours before
sunset. He directed one of his sons and the hired man to round up the
horses, while his wife and daughters began to milk the cows. The hired
man and boy started to hunt the horses, while LIVELY went into the
cowpen with his wife and daughters. As they milked the cows he stood on
a stump, his rifle cradled in his arms. The family chatted gaily, their
hopes buoyant at the thought of their journey away from the dreaded place.
Then out of the forest came a creeping ring of death. The young man and
boy had proceeded only a short distance away from the homestead when
they were horrified at the sound of shots and the demoniac yells of
blood-crazed Indians. Fearful of what they would see, they crept back
to the edge of the clearing, hiding in thick underbrush. The scene that
met their eyes literally froze the blood in their veins. The homestead
was alive with maddened savages; the tomahawk rose and fell and the
scalping knife left its gory traces as the marauding band completed their
Through the din sounded the pitiful wails of the women. The hired man
and the boy watched the scene through fear-distended eyes. Then, their
gory massacre completed, the Indians fled the scene taking with them a
prisoner in the form of LIVELY'S other son.
The two survivors crept from their hiding places, faces ashen. All
around them was death which had descended swift and merciless. They fled
from the scene in horror, their one desire to escape, to bring help to
avenge the deaths of their loved ones. They found to their chagrin, that
the horses had stampeded, & could not be rounded. There was nothing to
do but set out on foot to the nearest habitation, the settlement near
The greater part of the night was spent in travel, shrinking in terror
at each sound, crashing through the brush and thicket, wading creeks and
swamp. Toward morning, unable to go farther, they crawled into a
thicket in the southwestern part of the county, where they lay down to
sleep for a few hours.
Upon their arrival at the Post they related the horrible massacre, and
with a band of Rangers and volunteers started back to the looted
homestead. The dead were reverently buried & pursuit given the war
party. Some of the Indian raiders were surrounded near what is now
called the Buckingham Branch, and after a spirited battle were killed.
Same of the LIVELY stock, still in the possession of the Indians was
The fact that the LIVELY boy and the hired man sought the shelter
of the grove on their way to the Fort is thought to have been responsible
for the name Lively Grove, a name, now applied to a village & a township.
Whether or not this is true is contested by historians.
The other son of JOHN LIVELY who was taken prisoner was later found
dead along the trail by the Rangers who pursued the savages. When the
war party were finally surrounded at the bend of Buckingham Branch, they
were killed and buried on the spot. The story was handed down from
old-timers that the Rangers blazed the trees in a circle surrounding the
spot where the battle occurred, the blazes being visable for years
In 1816, David HUGGINS and his family returned to the homestead near the
spring. There was no more Indian trouble and he remained at this place
until his death. He left a large family surviving him, and many of his
direct descendants are now residents of the county.
As long as people can remember the spot where the massacre occurred in
1813 has been known as Lively Spring. Various stories and legends have
been woven about the historic spot. Some old historians are of the
opinion that the LIVELY boy and the hired man crawled into the mouth of
the cavern from which the spring runs, where they hid from the savages
while the massacre was enacted. The spring as it appears today has a
rather small opening. A man to squeeze into the cavern would have a
difficult feat to perform. However it is a known fact that the rocky
cavern runs back for some distance under the hill. Various sink holes in
the vicinity also give attest to the theory of a large underground cavern.
In all the published accounts of the massacre at Lively Spring, no
mention is made as far as we are able to ascertain, of the particular
tribe of red men who killed the pioneer family. It is known that the
Illinois tribe belonged to the Algonquin family. . The Illinois were
five tribes in a federation -- The Tamaroas (from whom Tamaroa got its
name), the Michigamies, Kaskaskias, Cahokias and Peorias. The tribes
frequenting this section were also known as the Meadow Indians. The Sacs
and Foxes, farther north were also marauding bands, and it is possible
that a war party of this ferocious nation dipped this far south to test
the mettle of its warriors.
Regardless of any inaccuracy in published accounts of this massacre,
Lively Spring is a historic spot that demands more attention than it has
received to date. At one time there was talk of erection a tablet here
in honor of the heroic family who gave their lives upholding the
frontier that later was developed into one of the most prosperous
counties in the state. But the plan never developed.
The spot is seldom frequented today, and unless one is acquainted with
its exact location, it is hard to find. Nevertheless, it is an
interesting spot to visit. The spring still bubbles forth, nearby is an
old cemetery, now forgotten that was once a community burial place. As
far as can be ascertained, RUDOLPH FREUND was the last person buried at
this cemetery some 40 or 45 years ago.
Some of the STEVENS family, pioneer residents of Covington Township, also
rest there. To the north of the spring quite some distance, one can
still view what is known as the old wash pond used by the Indians long
before the white men came.
At a recent meeting of the Washington County Board of Supervisors,
OREN BRANDIS addressed the board asking that a granite monument be
erected on the farm of WILLIAM POEBLER in Covington Township, where
the massacre occurred, but the proposition was turned down. Mr.
BRANDIS said the expense of the monument enclosed by a fence would
cost about $140.00.
NOTE: A gray granite marker was erected later in 1936 and states:
"THIS MARKS THE SITE OF THE JOHN LIVELY FAMILY MASSACRE
BY INDIANS IN JULY 1813 -- THE FIRST WHITE SETTLERS IN THIS
COUNTY -- ERECTED BY WASHINGTON COUNTY CITIZENS 1936.
Modern-day researchers citing contemporaneous newpaper accounts of the Lively massacre plus Orphan's Court and Letters of Administration documents now place the date of the attack in March, 1813.