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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
In April of 2021, the Pike County Historical Society was contacted by Stephen Clark of Bend, Or., regarding an antique sideboard that belonged to Colonel William Ross.
Clark’s wish was for the sideboard to be returned to Pike County where it originated.
This beautiful and historically significant sideboard was built by a Mr. Branson in 1833 and would have been in the William Ross home on the evening of Sept. 30, 1858, when Abraham Lincoln spent the night.
After the death of William Ross, the sideboard was passed down to Ross’s oldest son Marcellus Allen Ross.
In 1886, Marcellus moved his family and the sideboard around the Cape Horn of South America to California by ship. Over the following decades the sideboard was passed down through the descendants of Marcellus Ross.
The Pike County Historical Society accepted the generous donation of the sideboard from Clark and immediately began researching options to transport it across the country. Unfortunately the Historical Society’s plans were interrupted in 2021 by the Covid-19 pandemic..
In early September of this year, the Pike County Historical Society made arrangements with U-Haul in Bend, Or., to drop a “U-Box” container at the home of Mr. Stephen Clark.
The sideboard was subsequently crated and loaded into the container. To date the sideboard is en route to Winchester, where the Pike County Historical Society will pick up the U-Box container and bring it to East School where it will be uncrated and placed on display to the public.
Ross is of historical significance to Pike County,because he fought beside Abraham Lincoln in the Black Hawk War.
In addition, Ross is credited by many for swinging the presidential nomination to Lincoln at the Chicago convention, in part by distributing copies of an editorial written by John George Nicolay in a Pittsfield newspaper.
Ross was born in Monson, Mass., April 24, 1792, where he resided until the age of 13, when his father, Micah Ross, moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
In 1820, Colonel Ross and his three brothers, Leonard, Henry and Clarendon, moved to the Midwest, settling in an area on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, which Colonel Ross named “Atlas,” a derivative from the words “At last.” Atlas became the first county seat of what is now Pike County. But in 1834, because it was more centrally located, Pittsfield became the county seat. Colonel Ross was given the privilege of naming Pittsfield after his hometown in Massachusetts, since he gave the money to buy the land that Pittsfield lies on.
During Colonel Ross’s life, he raised and shipped beef, owned three riverboats, a flour mill and a general store, and served as postmaster.
On September 30, 1858, Abraham Lincoln spent the night at Colonel Ross’s stately home on the east edge of Pittsfield.