Caleb Garrett, son of Isam and Mary (Puckett) Garrett, was born in Clinton county, Ohio, on the 6th of July, 1816. In 1819 the family moved to Randolph county, Indiana, and, in 1823, to Vigo county, in the same state, where they remained until the final removal to Illinois. Whilst in the former state, the residence of the family was generally on the Fort Harrison prairie and about four miles south of Terre Haute. Caleb was about seven years old when the family resided near the latter place. He was educated at a subscription school; his father being a man of education, he progressed under home instruction and learned rapidly. In 1830 his mother died in Vigo county, Indiana, and for several years thereafter Mr. Isam Garrett and his two sons, Caleb and Nathan, kept house for themselves. In these days Caleb drove an ox team for L. H. Scott; he worked in the corn field for twenty-five cents a day, and made fence rails at from twenty to thirty cents per hundred, averaging one hundred and fifty for a day's work. He went into the printing business at the office of the Western Register in Terre Haute under Judge Amery Kinney and John W. Osborn, the proprietors of the office. Mr. Garrett returned to farming for a while, and also worked as a carpenter and builder under Dr. Thomas Parsons, and having finally resolved to think and act for himself he returned to his favorite pursuits, farming and stock-raising, making success in them the object of his future life. He was for several years a tenant of Chauncey Rose, the well-known millionaire, for whom at the outset he worked at the ordinary occupation of a farm hand, during which time he made thousands of rails at the then usual very small compensation; and here began between the two men a warm personal regard, which was only terminated by the death of Mr. Rose. In 1833, in the company of George Jordan, the father of I. L. Jordan, of Tuscola, and of Levi Westfall, an uncle of R. E. H. Westfall, of Garrett township, and also with a Kentucky friend, Mr. Garrett passed through this portion of Illinois, partly to indulge his love of adventure and partly to look up a location for a future home. The trip began at Terre Haute, by Baldwin's store, in Edgar county, Sadorus Grove, and into Springfield, Beardstown and Quincy, then a wild, sparsely settled country. Mr. Garrett returned to Terre Haute by way of Meredosia, on the Illinois river, to Springfield and Decatur. From 1833 to 1839, pursuing his natural bent for exploration and adventure, he followed flatboating down the Wabash, the Ohio and the Mississippi to New Orleans. The boats, made generally by the owner, were from eighty to one hundred and twenty feet long, and were laden to the gunwale with corn, pork and other produce. In 1840 he started from Terre Haute bound for New Orleans per steamer, and upon reaching the Wabash rapids they were run upon the rocks by a drunken pilot. Garrett and two others hired a skiff, and, crossing the river to Mt. Carmel, Illinois, they chartered a hack and repaired to Evansville, at which point they took the large river steamer Louisiana with two companions, one bound for the mouth of the Cumberland, the other for the Tennessee. After a tedious voyage he arrived at New Orleans, took a steamship and passed out to the gulf, and after a very stormy passage arrived safely at Galveston. He went thence to Houston, and there failing to get a conveyance, started on foot through Texas. He arrived at a house where he was offered and accepted the use of a pony. The next day he was presented with a horse by a Dr. Heard, and proceeding got into the vicinity of hostile Indians. He became for the nonce a Texas ranger, in which capacity he experienced considerable fighting with the Indians. In Travis county, Texas, Mr. Garrett married Miss Irene Puckett, a daughter of Thomas Puckett. With her he left Texas in an ox wagon loaded with pecans and dry hides. Thev arrived at Houston and took a steamer to Galveston, and thence to New Orleans, and by the Mississippi to Evansville, Indiana, landing March 5, 1841; they shortly alter arrived in Vigo county, that being the county in which his wife was born. Mrs. Irene Garrett has always been remarkable for an open-handed liberality toward her less fortunate neighbors, which dispensed generally from her own private means earned her the blessings of the poor. In Vigo county Mr. Garrett returned to farming and stock-raising, during which time, about 1842, he was elected to the Indiana state legislature, and at the succeeding term was re-elected. In 1845 he made his second trip to Illinois, and in 1846 bought land in the west part of Tuscola township, near the present farm of William Brian. He finally sold this land and located in the forks of the creek on section 3, township 15, range 7. He also selected one hundred and sixty acres of land, being lots 2 and 3 in the northeast quarter of section 3, township 15, range 7, and hewed a set of walnut logs for a home. In 1856 Mr. and Mrs. Garrett revisited Texas, including a long trip in a carriage by Price's Springs and Brazos Falls in Cherokee county, where he examined lands; thence to Palestine and Marshall, from which place they went forty miles to Shreveport, Louisiana, thence by steamer to the mouth of Red river, and by a similar conveyance to Evansville, Indiana, reaching home November 8, 1856, which was then Coles county. He then began improving his lands with orchards, barns and dwellings. Mr. Garrett's lands in Garrett township at one time covered nineteen hundred acres. In 1875 he sold these lands and reinvested in Tuscola township, having concluded to settle in Tuscola City. He was the first supervisor of Garrett township, which had been instituted with the other townships in 1868, and he was also a member of the first grand jury in Douglas county. Mr. Garrett always took a deep interest in all the public affairs of Douglas county.

Extracted 09 Jun 2019 by Norma Hass from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, published in 1900, pages 200-202.

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