by Ruth Burcham Howard

Hungry Hollow, a quiet, peaceful settlement is about three miles northwest from Redden Square. Stretching along the old Danville-Glenburn turnpike, now a paved double highway, for a distance of two miles from the steel bridge, which spans the North Fork at the Big Vermilion River, through a narrow defile which is bounded by steep hills, is this rustic neighborhood rich in local history. In the long ago it was an enterprising settlement.

Hungry Hollow still retains some of its importance as a suburb of Danville, but it is not the industrial center it was 60 years ago. Brick making was one of the important industries in the early days. Abraham Bolton had the brickyard. Coal mining was also carried on to a greater or lesser degree. A Mr. Harbaugh opened a sawmill and grist mill on the river.

In those days they conserved time. While the lumber was being sawed, he ground your corn into meal. They also had a well stocked grocery store for those days. It was run by George Corbin. All of this is gone and the residents have turned their attention to other trades and are employed in and around Danville. There are still others who have farms and depend largely upon them to make a living.

Through Hungry Hollow runs a narrow stream, placid and shallow in summer and fall, but a torrent when the heavy rains of the late fall and early spring set in. In summer the jagged banks of the little stream are carpeted with green and studded with wild flowers. In the fall season, the wooded hills present a scene some artist should paint. In the days of the Piankashaws and Kickapoos, the Indian braves fished along the banks of the North Fork in summer and hunted for wild animals in winter. The Indians even chased deer over what is now Hungry Hollow.

The Edward Gutterridge family came to the “Hollow” from Ohio in 1835. He established his homestead a half mile east of Amos Corner. A house still stands on the original site.

This story concerns what was at first believed an epidemic of mumps among the Indian children in the Hollow. One morning there appeared at the Gutterridge cabin an Indian squaw and her papoose. The papoose was evidently suffering from the mumps. The squaw asked the white settlers what to do about it. Mrs. Gutterridge resorted to an early method. She cooked hot cakes out of thick cornmeal batter and applied them as hot poultices to the suffering papoose’s jaws. The mother thanked the white woman and hurried away. Soon there appeared more than a dozen Indian squaws dragging their youngsters. Each pointed to the children’s jaws and made signs they wanted similar attention.

While symptoms did not indicate they were afflicted, Mrs. Gutterridge set about making the cakes in a wholesale lot.  To every applicant she gave a quota of cakes sufficient to cover their supposedly sore jaws. Then the Indian mothers and their left.

Some of the men who were abroad in the woods watching the proceedings saw the mothers take the cakes as soon as they were out of sight and begin eating them. They liked the cakes much better as food than as poultices, so the story goes.

But this was not the end of the incident as far as the pioneers or the Indians were concerned. Not long afterward came  Thanksgiving. Word got around that the white settlers were soon to begin a period of feasting. And one morning shortly after dawn the settlers saw two big Indians, each carrying the form of a big buck deer on his shoulders, approach the Gutterridge cabin.

When they reached there they deposited their burdens on the doorstep and motioned the white settlers to take them in. They had provided the settlers with plenty of meat for their Thanksgiving dinner. Not all Indians were bad, were they?

When the Piankashaws were driven from their homes on the bank of the Big Vermilion by the more powerful Kickapoos and Potawatomis, the hunting and fishing grounds along the North Fork and Hungry Hollow were surrendered to their enemies. It was then the Piankashaws set their faces toward the setting sun for the purpose of finding for themselves another home somewhere in the great heart of the American wilderness.

The Tate residence, once one of the palatial homes of Hungry Hollow, burned many years ago, thus removing one of the landmarks of the Hollow. It was on the site of this cottage and was operated for 20 years as a brickyard, one of the principal industries years ago. It was started by Henry Dettman, a thrifty German and later run by Abe Bolton. During the brick making season it is said that 30,000 bricks were made in the yard each day. The enterprise furnished employment for half the residents. 

Opposite the old residence, across the winding stream and the Danville-Glenburn turnpike, stood the old Hungry Hollow store where the boys of the neighborhood gathered the latest gossip. It was here that the Hungry Hollow band was organized. This musical organization, if one might call it that, had a reputation in its days.

A little farther down the highway formerly stood the old Christian Church where prayers were heard and said on Sunday and where many social gatherings were held during the winter. Above the old brickyard, facing the turnpike, stood the old mill where the families of the community brought their corn to be ground and their timber to be sawed. The old landmark, long an abiding place for owls and bats, has gone the way of many another building of the long ago.

Just back of the Jess Chappell residence is an old graveyard, where lies the dust of the first white settlers of Hungry Hollow. There is very little evidence that once it was a well kept cemetery, the burial ground of the pioneer settlers.

The old glory of Hungry Hollow has passed, but it retains its name and memories. Where did the name originate? I have heard many versions. This seems to be the true one. Once in 1865 the Henry Cramer family had run low on flour. There was enough for gravy and pie crust but not enough for biscuits. So Mrs. Cramer told her husband to go to town and get some flour; but it began to rain andthe North Fork rose, making the old Sutherland Ford impassable for three days. The family subsisted on cornmeal.

This led Cramer to complain: “Cornbread three times a day! This is certainly Hungry Hollow”.