John Payne, Jr.,
& Virletta O'Neal

John Payne, Jr., and Virletta O'Neal were young and in love when they married in 1836. He was 20; she was sixteen-and-a-half, so young that her father had to sign to grant permission for the marriage. Fifteen months later, the young couple said thank you by naming their first born after Virletta's father.

In the eleven years of their marriage, the couple produced seven children. The birth of the last one killed Virletta; the baby didn't make it either. Three weeks after her first born was ten years old, Virletta was dead.

John dealt with his grief by joining the U.S Army in its "Texas War of Liberation." After he returned to Vermilion Co., IL, he married a widow and had three more children with her.

On Monday, August 24, 1863, John was wounded in a riot on the courthouse steps in Danville, Vermilion Co., IL. That morning he was wearing a "butternut pin" pinned to his lapel. The pin was seen as support for Confederate troops. John was a veteran himself; in 1863 he had two sons in the U.S. Army, and he had a brother who was a Captain in the U.S. Army. Why he was wearing the butternut pin is unknown. Years later, his daughter Permelia told a newspaper reporter that her father wore the pin that day because one of his young daughters happened to have pinned it to his lapel that morning. Who knows whether even Permelia knew the real reason her father wore the pin.

The sheriff came running to the scene of the riot. The sheriff was John's older brother William. He found John lying on the courthouse steps, bleeding from the gun shot wound. John languished until September 13, 1863, when he died.

The following account is from "History of Vermilion County, Illinois," by Lottie E. Jones, published 1911 by Chicago Pioneer Publishing Company, at pages 214 and 215:

There were two riots in Danville which tell the state of public feeling better than multiplied words could do. While the state of sentiment was intense all over the country, yet on the borders, as it might have been called, the conditions were a little different. Danville was near to the people who felt most keenly the ravages of war, and at the same time it was in touch with those who felt as intensely the necessity of the struggle to preserve the Union. Other localities let men wear a butternut pin unmolested and had men mustered out of service and go about their business without arousing the desire to kill.

The first riot was on August 24, 1863, and was a disgraceful as well as lamentable affair. John Payne Sr. was the father of several boys and was himself a man who sympathized with the South. On the other hand his son-in-law was a staunch upholder of the Union. One of his sons [John Jr.] wore the emblem of a sympathizer for the South in the shape of a pin on his coat that was made from a butternut. Such an ornament was not unusual to see on men's coats at this time. Lyman Guinup, a business man of Danville and Colonel Hawkins, a Union soldier from Tennessee, were together. Mr. Guinup was himself a soldier. Seeing this pin when particularly impatient with the ornament, these men snatched it from the coat of John Payne, Jr. A fight followed, and in the struggle Payne was shot. Later [in the same day] a preliminary investigation was held in a magistrate's office on West Main Street, about where the King block is now located. A crowd assembled, and William M. Payne, who was the sheriff, hastened to the scene. As he passed the store of William M. Lamm, which stood where the Danville National Bank now stands, or on the southwest corner of the public square, he called Mr. Lamm, who was at the store door, to go with him and assist in quelling the disturbance. They hastened on together. This was about one o'clock p.m. As they came within bullet range, a shot was fired, and Mr. Lamm fell mortally wounded. No demonstration was then made, although the Southern sympathizers gathered on the corner of Hazel and South Streets. The reports were circulated that the friends of John Payne of the same views were intending to burn the town that night. The next morning the courthouse grounds were full of horses which had been ridden into town during the night by the farmers who had strong Union sentiments. George Barker was arrested, tried and convicted for shooting Mr. Lamm, and was sent to the penetentiary. William Lamm was one of the leading business men and a member of the board of trustees of the North Street Methodist Church. His death was a severe loss to the community.

John's gravestone has the last word:

"The brave man seeks not popular applause,
nor over-powered with arms deserts his cause.
Undaunted, though foiled, he does the best he can.
Force is of brutes, but honor is of man."

BORN: 6 Apr 1815, Hamilton Co., OH
DIED: 13 Sep 1863, Danville, Vermilion Co., IL
BUR.: Songer Cemetery, west of Danville, Vermilion Co., IL
MARR: 17 Jan 1836, Vermilion Co., IL
John PAYNE, Sr.
Hannah EARLE
NOTE: John Jr., U.S. Army, "Texas War of Liberation"

WIFE: Virletta O'NEAL
BORN: 8 May 1819, IN
DIED: 25 Apr 1847, Vermilion Co., IL
BUR.: Songer Cemetery, west of Danville, Vermilion Co., IL
William Spencer O'NEAL
Melinda GRIMES
1. William O'Neal PAYNE
.....BORN: 2 Apr 1837, Danville, Vermilion Co., IL
.....DIED: 29 Dec 1888, IL
.....BUR.: Potomac Cemetery, Vermilion Co., IL
.....SPOUSE #1: Emma GREEN [sister of Rhoda]
.....MARR #1: 1857
.....SPOUSE #2:
Elizabeth Ann OLIVER
.....MARR #2: 27 Dec 1870, Vermilion Co., IL
.....NOTE: Civil War, 149th IL Infantry, Co. E

2. Alonzo Grimes PAYNE
.....BORN: 20 May 1838, Vermilion Co., IL
.....DIED: 4 Mar 1905, Pekin, IL
.....BUR.: Springhill Cemetery, Danville, Vermilion Co., IL
.....SPOUSE: Rhoda GREEN [sister of Emma]
.....MARR: 2 Jan 1859, Bloomington, McLean Co., IL
.....NOTE: Civil War, 5th IL Cavalry, Co. C & D, mustered out as a Captain

3. Malinda PAYNE
.....BORN: 1840, IL
.....DIED: Bef 1911

4. Abel Wade PAYNE
.....BORN: Jun 1841, Vermilion Co., IL
.....DIED: 8 Mar 1923, Vermilion Co., IL
.....BUR.: National Cemetery, Danville, Vermilion Co., IL
.....SPOUSE #1: Harriet Geneva BALSIR
.....MARR #1: 10 Nov 1865 (divorced)
Elizabeth Ann OLIVER
.....MARR: 16 Oct 1889, Potomac, Vermilion Co., IL
.....NOTE: Civil War, 16th IL Cavalry, L Co.; 37th IL Infantry, Co. K; survived Andersonville

5. Permelia Ann PAYNE
.....BORN: 7 Jun 1843, Danville, Vermilion Co., IL
.....DIED: 14 Dec 1935, Oto, Woodbury Co., Iowa
.....BUR.: 16 Dec 1935, Peiro, Woodbury Co., Iowa
.....SPOUSE #1:
Thomas DOYLE (born Frank REED)
.....MARR #1: 17 May 1864, Vermilion Co., IL
.....SPOUSE #2: Joseph Malcom (no marriage record found)

6. Addison C. PAYNE
.....BORN: 29 Feb 1844, Vermilion Co., IL

.....DIED: 24 Jan 1909 Iowa
.....BUR.: Rose Hill Cemetery, Mt. Ayr, Ringgold Co., Iowa

7. George PAYNE
.....BORN: 25 Apr 1847, Vermilion Co., IL
.....DIED: 25 Apr 1847, Vermilion Co., IL
.....BUR.: Songer Cemetery, Vermilion Co., IL

After Virletta died, John, married Priscilla NIXON 31-Aug-1854. Priscilla was the widow BEEZLEY when John married her. Priscilla entered the marriage with a daughter from her previous marriage: Mary Ann Beezley, b. 1851 in Wisconsin.

With Priscilla, John had three children:
James Buchanan PAYNE (1857-1939)
.....m. Hettie O. WARNER
Carrie Harriet (Hattie) PAYNE (1859-1892)fd
.....m. James M. BARROWS, M.D.
.....m. SMITH


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