State Sen. Terri Bryant portrayed Mrs. John Hacker at PAST’s Summer Sunday presentation last weekend. Photo provided.

PAST Summer Sundays hosts Sen. Terri Bryant as Mrs. John Hacker

The PAST organization of Union County welcomed State Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, as a special guest for the Summer Sundays presentation on Aug. 8. 

PAST is hosting the programs on Sunday afternoons at its Heritage House in Jonesboro.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Milliken Hacker was one of the pioneer women of Union County who had a profound influence on the young state through her husband, John Shaffer Hacker.  

Betsy came from a good family. Her father was an immigrant from Scotland, a weaver, who lived in the Cache Township.  

The land north of Cairo on the Mississippi River was named Milliken’s Bend after him.  

Betsy’s husband came to Missouri when he was only 14 years old (after his father had died in Owensboro, Ky.) 

Young John became a business man by purchasing a keelboat which he used to transport produce from Missouri and return with general merchandise.  

During the War of 1812, he served as a private and was with Lt. Col. Henry Dodge in Mound City when there was the horrible massacre by the Creek Indians.  He was in the unit which chased the Indians to Kentucky.  His first cousin, John Shaver was one of the two survivors.

John’s brother George married Betsy’s sister and both brothers moved to Alexander County, and then to Jonesboro.  

Never having attended school, Betsy taught her husband to read and write.  

Although a businessman, he enjoyed politics. He and John Grammer were rivals and made stump speeches against each other. Grammer was more experienced and won that election.  

Hacker went on to be elected as a state representative.  

He served in the Mexican War and was a commander of a unit made up of Union County soldiers. He was named a colonel, and appointed as the examiner of cadets at West Point.  

Being a friend of both Lincoln and Douglas, but because sharing the same party as Douglas, John S. Hacker introduced Douglas at the famous debate in Jonesboro in 1858.

During the 2018 Jonesboro, Union County Bicentennial, Col. Hacker’s grave was dedicated with a new marker as he had no marker.  It is next to his wife, Betsy.

Upcoming Program

On Sunday, Aug. 15, the PAST Heritage House in Jonesboro welcomes Lance Meisenheimer as James Provo, a prominent Jonesboro businessman who was murdered on Main Street in 1864 by a Civil War soldier.  

Also, Pam VanAlstine will portray Ellen Ashley, whose husband surveyed the Illinois Central Railroad route through Southern Illinois. Tragedy occurred when their three sons died in 1853, only weeks apart.

The Heritage House Museum is open each Sunday through ColorFest weekend, Oct. 8-10, for touring from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  

The program is presented each Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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