22, 1804 in Miami County, Ohio, George Brunk
is recognized as the first person to bring Morgans
into Illinois, and the first in his family to raise the breed. He walked
to Illinois in the summer of 1821 with two
neighbor boys about his age
(17). They entered Illinois by way of FortDearborn (Chicago) and
followed the Illinois River to SangamonCounty,
the same year that SangamonCounty came into legal existance.
The Indian danger in central Illinois had been resolved by two treaties—at Edwardsville in 1818 and Forst
Harrison in 1819—that paid off the Kickapoo and started
them toward the other side of the Mississippi
River. The treaties gave the Indians
local hunting rights for several years. George Brunk, according to an account he wrote for “Personal
Recollections of Old Settlers” in
1859, hunted with two of the Kickapoo chiefs, Bassena and Joe Muney.
George entered 80 acres of land in CottonHillTownship,
12 miles southeast of Springfield and slightly over 2 miles southwest of Rochester—making
him one of the first settlers in SangamonCounty.
(The first white settler, Robert Pulliam, arrived in SangamonCounty in the fall of 1817, four years earlier. He settled
a few miles west of Cotton Hill near the present day of Glenarm.)
Brunk eventually entered more land, buying a total of
696 acres from the federal government for $1.25 an acre. The deed bore the signature
of Martin Van Buren, a first cousin of George Brunk.
Brunk built a log cabin and in 1824 returned to
Ohio to get his mother, brother, sisters and step–father
(Thomas Royal). They came to
Illinois in a covered wagon with two Morgan horses, the first of
the BrunkMorgans. The one
called “Old Mousey” later gave the children of George Brunk
many happy hours on her back, and thus began a love affair with the Morgan
breed that has lasted until the present.
In his personal recollections,
George Brunk relates that in 1826, he and a
friend went to work in the lead mines for $4.00 a
day on FeverRiver near
Galena. While there, he participated in a scrimage
with the Winnebago Indians. He returned to
SangamonCounty in the fall of 1828.
Brunk married Mary Boyd, the first of his three wives, and in 1829
completed one of the first stone houses with the limestone quarried near Horse
Creek just one mile from his house. The limestone used for the construction of
the State Capital in Springfield in the 1830’s was quarried
from the same location. Stonemasons from
St. Louis built the house, working only during the summer months, on
his Cotton Hill Farm. The farm is still owned by the Brunk
family. The farm was named Cotton Hill after settlers from
Kentucky brought cotton seed with them and planted it on an
The most famouse
visitor to the old Brunk house was President Martin
Van Buren during his visit to
Springfield in June, 1842. Van Buren came
to Springfield because he recognized it as a strategic political and
geographical point in the country and hoped it would help his political
comeback. It was said that feeling the sophisticated Van Buren might have found
rather crude, the Springfield delegation attempted to suitably entertain him.
Another interesting aspect
concerning the early years at Brunk’s Cotton Hill
Farm was the arrival of Vachel Lindsay, the great
Illinois poet. Mr. Lindsay’s father operated his office for “humans
and animals” for approximately eight years in quarters attached to the house.
Lindsay came to Cotton Hill in 1867 at the age of 23.
He had been studying medicine on his own in his native
Kentucky and had spent 1 year at
Cincinnati, Ohio. He stayed for 2 years at Cotton Hill and then returned to
MiamiMedicalCollege from which he graduated in 1869.
Then he resumed his practice at Cotton Hill.
A more serious association between
the Brunks and Morgan Horses began in 1893, when Joseph Chase Brunk
(George’s son) heard of a dispersal sale of Morgans
at Two Rivers Stock Farm in
Tennessee. Joseph’s middle name was in honor of Salmon P. Chase,
Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary, who was a boyhood chum of George Brunk. Joseph C. Brunk, J. C. as
he was known, purchased the entire lot of Morgans
from the Two Rivers Stock Farm with a thousand dollar loan, and these were the
foundation of the present BrunkMorgans.
There were eight mares and two stallions. The two stalliionsBrunk purchased were Chilco4513, a son of Ben Franklin and Morgan Rupert 3987. Chetco was a direct
descendant of one of Justin Morgan’s most outstanding grandsons, Blackhawk.
This foundation stock was exceedingly long lived. One of the mares, Lucy, lived
to be 42 years old. When she died, J. C. Brunk fastened her bones together and they stood in the
barn for several years.
So the business of raising Morgans began. The Brunks raised
their own horses, the only purchase being an occasional stud. Among these
stallions were listed some of the greats of the Morgan breed. Jubilee DeJarnette was purchased, a son of Jubilee Lambert by
Daniel Lambert out of a great show mare Lady DeJarnette
by Indian Chief by Blood’s Black Hawk.
Close to 60
foals were dropped at Cotton Hill Farm in a two year period by Jubilee DeJarnette, including Daisy DeJarnette
who lived to be 34. Most Brunk
mares trace to this dark bay mare, foaled in 1903.
was sold to a breeder in the Western
United States. A colt of his last
years, Troubadour, was to leave a lasting impression on the breed when his son,
Troubladour of Willowmoor,
was purchased for use at the U.S. Government Farm at Middlebury, Vermont, thus
returning to New England the blood of the great “lady” and her sire, Indian
Always looking for ways to improve
his stock, J. C. Brunk in 1906
and 1910 sent a box car load of mares to
Charles Reade 3953 standing at
Missouri. This beautiful bred Morgan stallion was very popular with
trotting and saddle horse breeders. He was registered in the Standard Bred
Registry on his redord of 1/14, and was
honored after his death with a number in the American Saddler Bred Stud Book.
This fine Ethan Allen grandson had wonderful speed and action. Me. Brunk again returned some of the breed’s finest blood to
the Morgan registries when he alone took advantage of Charles Reade to produce Morgans.
This cross of Jubilee De Jarnette daughters to Charles Reade gave the Brunks the best horses up to that time. Stawn
Reade, Gov. Reade, Major Reade, Mrs. Lewis, Ruby Reade, and Daisy Reade were
notable results of this cross.
first saw Knox Morgan at the World’s Fair in
St. Louis in 1904. Frank Chandler of
Vermont, exhibited his famous horse over a large field. Mr. Brunk exhibited the Champion mare, Senata02303. Brunk and
Chandler became friends and years later, when
Chandler decided to sell his Morgans, he
would let Knox Morgan go only to Mr. Brunk. Knox was 24. He was kept at Cotton Hill Farm until his death at
the age of 28. He sired 30 colts for Mr. Brunk.
son Roy Brunk started showing Morgans
at the age of 11 at the 1904St. Louis World’s Fair. He said that his biggest thrill came as he
led the Sweepstakes Champion mare back to her stall. Senata
by Senator by Morgan Rubert, out of Daisy by Billy Bodette, possessed a great number of crosses to Justin
Over the years, the Brunks liked to keep a stallion with crosses to Senata since her prolific line reads like a Morgan
who’s–who. Senata is considered by a large number of
people to be the finest example of a Morgan mare in her era. A show mare
considered tops by all the best judges of her day, she
was a solid, typey mare with a sweet disposition. Her
name appears now on the pedigrees of more Morgans
across this country than any other mare in the breed’s history. To compile a
list of the prolific family she founded would take pages.
Although the Brunk
Morgan knowledge is outstanding, Brunk luck has
played a part, too. One time “J. C.” traded a short–horned cow to a man in
Iowa for a Morgan colt sight unseen. The colt was Go–Hawk, later one of the leading sires at Cotton Hill, the
sire of Flyhawk.
recalled seeing as many as 25 head of Morgans working the 800 acres
at Cotton Hill Farm. J. C. Brunk sold many Morgans, 25–50 a year, as
yearlings and 2–year olds, mostly as gelded calts.
The farm listed 150 head of Morgans
in 1911. The same Morgans
that worked the fields were shown from coast to coast and won most all major
awards at one time or another, a feat of which the BrunkMorgans are still capable at the present time.
J. C. Brunk,
in almost every instance, stayed with his established line of breeding. One
exception was the above mentioned Go–Hawk. The other was Tiffany by
Mansfield, a colt purchased from the Government. A number of good BrunkMorgans have descended from
this chestnut horse. The bay horse Tarron, from Africal Maid, was one of the sons of Tiffany to leave his
mark, as the sire of Roy Brunk’s many times grand
champion stallion Congo.
When Joseph Brunk
died in 1935, his horses and lands were divided
among his three sons and two daughters.
son Roy continued to raise Morgans at Cotton Hill
Farm until his death in 1983. His daughter, Clara
Mayes, and grandaughters now carry on the family
tradition at Cotton Hill. Joseph’s daughter, Helen Greenwalt,
produced a large number of fine, showy Morgans at her
Highview Farm in nearby Pawnee,
Illinois, just south of Cotton Hill Farm. Another son, Thomas Talbott, raised his Morgans on
the part of the Brunk lands that Jubilee King, Senata’s most famous son, was foaled on. Today, his wife
Edna continues to raise Morgans on the farm that
Joseph Brunk’s wife, Minnie, brought as her dowry.
The bloodline of the Morgans owned by various family members ae
all so similar that they can hardly be used for each other’s stallions. To get
around this, Brunk mares are sometimes bred to
outside stallions and the colts used as sires.
It is impossible to say how many Morgans have sprung from the Brunk
blood. It is possible to say, however, that no other family has come anywhere
near having the impact upon the breed as has this remarkable family. It is
difficult for the Brunks to find an outside stallion
that does not trace on at least one side to the blood of Cotton Hill Farm. Brunk horses have been sold from coast to coast, to
to the Bahamas,
China and Europe. To the present day, a large percentage of Grand National
Champions have Brunk breeding in their pedigrees.
A line of Morgans
nearly one hundred years old has evolved from 8 to 10
Vermont bred mares and two of the breed’s good stallions, Chetco and Morgan Rupert. Jubilee De Jarnette,
the stylish Charles Reade, grand old Knox Morgan, beautiful little Senata, and others such as Jubilee King, Go–Hawk, Tiffany
and Congo are all woven into the tapestry of the Brunk
family until this day, and into the tapestry of the Morgan registry forever.