Sunday, November 25, 2012

The First Amusement Col. Mayo Remembers

In the early times, fifty or sixty years ago, when the modern games of croquet and base-ball were unknown, the people used to amuse themselves with marbles, "town-ball"-which was base-ball in a rude state-and other simple pastimes of a like character.  Col. Mayo says, the first amusement he remembers in the county was a game of town-ball, on the day of the public sale of lots in Paris, in which many of the "young men of the period engaged."
-The History of Edgar County, Illinois

As this history of Edgar County was published in 1879, "fifty or sixty years ago" would put the playing of town ball in Paris, Illinois, at sometime in the 1820s.  Col. Jonathan Mayo moved to Paris Township in 1827, although it appears that he moved to Edgar County in 1817.  If we could date the reference to the sale of public lots in Paris, we'd have a better idea of when this game was played. 

And, again, this reference speaks to the ball-playing culture that existed in central Illinois in the decades prior to the Civil War.    


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James Longstreet said...

Edgar County was founded in 1823. In 1830, Jonathan mayo bought land in that county via a public sale. This 1830 date corresponds to the 1879 "50-60 years ago" date pretty closely.
I've entered this on protoball, giving you as the source.

James Longstreet said...

Jonathan Mayo purchased public lands in Edgar County (Paris) in 1830, which is close to the 50-60 years ago he mentioned.