To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Illinois, the Daily Ledger gave area students a chance to share their family’s
history. One winner was chosen from elementary, junior high and high school grade levels. Each winner received a free Family Pleaser from Monical’s. All submitted essays will be available to read on the Daily Ledger’s website.

The Journey of the Westerfield Family


How I am related to the Westerfields is by my great-grandmother. The Westerfields came to America from Amsterdam, Holland in 1662 on a ship called De Hoop. De Hoop means hope. When they came to America their last name was van Westervelt. They arrived in New York City which was called New Amsterdam then. Later they moved to Hackensack, New Jersey and they started a Dutch church. They changed their last name to Westerfield in the 1700’s.


One family member named Jacobus Westerfield decided to move his family west to Kentucky. A sad thing happened there. Indians attacked in 1780. Jacobus was killed and so were 16 others in his family. It was called the Westerfield Massacre.


Jacobus had a son named Samuel Westerfield who survived the massacre. Samuel could not bear to stay in a place where so many members of his family were killed. In 1805 he moved his family to Ohio. Samuel and his wife had 12 children. One was named Peter J. Westerfield.


Peter fought in the War of 1812. After the war the United States gave him land in Schuyler County, Illinois. Peter and his wife had 11 children. Later the family moved to Fulton County. When Peter was a old man in 1832 the people of Canton were afraid they might be attacked by Black Hawk and his band of indians. Peter and another man went out scouting for indians. They found a trail that looked like people had been there. Later they heard gunshots and people screaming. They alerted the town of Canton and other nearby places about what they thought was an Indian massacre. Peter went back to hide his family. Then he went to Canton to fight but there were no indians. It turned out it was a false alarm. A local history book called this the Westerfield Defeat but I think Peter was really a brave man. I am proud to be related to Peter and the other Westerfields.