Old Courthouse Museum
103 West Cherry Street
Watseka, IL 60970-1524
WESLEY HARVEY, who is now living a retired life in Cissna Park, certainly deserves representation in this volume, for no other resident has so long made his home in this community. He has been an eye-witness of its growth for more than half a century, and his name is inseparably connected with its history. He was born on New Year's Day of 1821, in a log cabin in Washington County, Ind., his parents being Robert H. and Sarah (Richards) Harvey. His father was born in North Carolina, but in an early day removed to Tennessee, where their marriage occurred. About 1810, they emigrated to Indiana, where he cleared and developed a farm.
The mother died leaving four children: Elizabeth became the wife of George A. Brock and died at the home of her son in Jacksonville; G. R. is a resident of Vincennes, Ind., where he fellows merchandising; Wesley is the third in order of birth; and Mrs. Sarah Strain resides in Milford. After the death of his first wife Robert Harvey was again married. His death occurred in the Hoosier State.
The subject of this sketch had very meagre educational privileges. He conned his lessons in a subscription school held in a log cabin furnished with slab seats and supplied with greased-paper windows. Upon his father's second marriage Wesley came to Illinois, at the age of sixteen years. The journey was made with an ox-team and he landed in Ash Grove Township. At that time there were only five families in the territory included in Ash Grove, Lovejoy, Pigeon Grove, Artesia and Loda Townships. He made his home with George A. and Lewis Brock until twenty years of age, and was then joined in wedlock with Mary Henry, a native of Indiana and a daughter of John Henry, one of the settlers who came to this county in 1836.
Entering a claim, Mr. Harvey began farming, purchasing his land of the Government at a land office in Danville. Three years later he sold that claim and bought a farm of Lewis Brock at the head of the Grove After operating it for five years he then sold to Mr. Devore and made a farm on section 24, Ash Grove Township. When he disposed of that land he removed to the village of Ash Grove and embarked in mercantile pursuits, engaging in business as a dealer in dry goods and groceries for twenty-two years. He also carried on farming at the same time, but in 1890 he sold his farm and, having disposed of his store, removed to Cissna Park, where he is now enjoying a well-earned rest.
August 27, 1859, Mr. Harvey lost his first wife. They had but one child, which died at the age of two years. He married February 10, 1860, Mrs. Brock widow of Lewis R. Brock, and unto them were born two children: George William, who died at the age of three years; and Henry Bishop, who was born March 21, 1865. The latter is now his father's partner in merchandising in Cissna Park and has the control of the business. He acquired a good literary education in the public schools and afterward pursued a course in the Chicago Commercial College. For two years he has carried on operations in his present line and is one of the wide-awake, enterprising and successful young business men of the community.
Of the original sixteen voters who in 1840 cast votes in Ash Grove Township Mr. Harvey is the only one yet living. In that year, although not yet of age, he supported William Henry Harrison, and was a Whig until the organization of the Republican party, when he cast his ballot for John C. Fremont and has since been one of its stanch supporters. He has held a number of offices, was the second Supervisor of the township, and has served as Assessor for four terms.
Mr. Harvey is truly a self-made man. At an early age he began life for himself and worked in Indiana as a farm hand for $3.50 per month. He had no capital when he came to this county, but in truly pioneer style he began life here and has steadily worked his way upward. He formerly went to La Fayette, Ind., and to Chicago to market. A trip made with ox-teams to the latter place consumed ten days and he would sell his wheat for $9 per load. He took his grain to mill at Wilmington near Joliet. His farming was done with primitive machinery and he passed through all the privations and hardships of pioneer life, bunt his industry and perseverance at length overcame all obstacles and he made of his life a success, acquiring a handsome competence by his diligence, energy and good management. He is truly an honored pioneer and throughout the community he is held in the highest regained by many warm friends.
JOSEPH W. ROBINSON, Sheldon's oldest practicing physician, and one of prominence in the community, is a native of the Empire State. He was born in Saratoga, N. Y., November 3, 1836, and is the third in order of birth in a family of four children. The parents were William and Maria (Wright) Robinson, both of whom were natives of New York, and came of hardy, long-lived ancestry. His father was the first proprietor of the Empire Springs, of New York, and for a number of years conducted business along that line. In 1851 he removed with his family to Bloomington, Ill., and soon afterward went to Washington, this State, where he continued to reside until his death, in Januamy, 1866.
Of the Robinson family, James H., the eldest is now a resident of Saratoga Springs, N. Y.; William H. is living in Yates City, Ill.; Joseph W. is the next younger; and Benjamin S. makes his home in Saratoga.
The subject of this sketch was educated in the public schools of Saratoga, N. Y., and Washington, Ill. As he looked about him in choice of some profession which he wished to follow through life, he determined to become a physician, and in 1858-59 entered the St. Louis Medical College. In 1862, following the completion of his studies, he responded to the country's call for troops, enlisting in Company G, Eighty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and served until the close of the war. The regiment was always at the front and did much arduous service for the Union. The first active engagement in which the Eighty-sixth regiment took part was at Perryville, when Bragg was threatening an attack on Louisville. The Doctor participated in Sherman's memorable march to the sea, and all of the battles of the Atlanta campaign, and arrived at the National Capital May 18, 1865. Seen after his enlistment he was appointed Hospital Surgeon, and near the close of the war was promoted to Assistant Surgeon he received his discharge and was mustered out May 18, 1865.
When the country no longer needed his services Dr. Robinson returned to his home in Washington, Ill. and established a drug store, which he carried on in connection with the practice of medicine, he was married October 16, 1866, in that place, to Miss Maggie Hughes, daughter of George Hughes, a native of England. By their union has been born a daughter, Effie, now the wife of C. W. Richards, who is railway agent at Graneros, Colo.
The year 1873 witnessed the arrival of Dr. Robinson in Sheldon, and he has here since made his home, he has been President of the Town Board, and is a member of the Board of Pension Examiners Socially, he is a member of the L. B. Brown Post No. 151, G. A. R., of Sheldon, and for the first five years of its existence was its honored Commander. He cast his first Presidential vote for Lincoln, and supported the Republican party until 1872, since which time he has been a stanch advocate of the Democracy. He is one of the leading and influential citizens of Sheldon, and, as before stated, is its oldest practitioner. In regard to his profession the Doctor is well read, and his skill and ability have won him a liberal patronage. From the beginning his practice has constantly increased, and he is now doing a fine business. Throughout the community he inns a wide acquaintance, and is held in the highest regard by all with whom he has been brought in contact either in professional or social life.
GEORGE BURGER, who owns and operates a farm located on section 5, in Douglas Township, is a native of Baden, Germany, his birth having occurred at Lausheim, on the 23d of April, 1831. He is a son of Anton and Mary A. (Kech) Burger, both natives of the same country. The father was there engaged in agricultural pursuits, and when the Revolution of 1848 broke out his sympathies were with the Revolutionary party. This made it best for him to leave Germany, and in 1849 he crossed the ocean, landing in America and locating in New London County, Conn. Two years later his family joined him at that place. Both he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives in Connecticut. His death occurred at the age of sixty-seven, and Mrs. Burger attained the age of sixty-two. Their family consisted of seven children, four sons and three daughters, five of whom now survive. George; Joseph, a prominent farmer of Ford County, Ill.; Elizabeth, wife of John Phillips, of the same county; Mary A, wife of August Haubach, a farmer of Douglas Township; and Johanna, wife of Robert Messinger, who resides in Connecticut.
The subject of this sketch is the third child of their family. He was reared to farm life and received a common school education in his native land. After coming to this country he was not permitted to go to school, but by reading and contact with English-speaking people he has became a good scholar, well informed on all the leading questions of the day. It was in 1850 that he decided to come to the United States, but as he was then about military age he knew there was no chance of getting a passport; he therefore managed to provide himself with a bogus pass and, making his way to Havre, France, he boarded a sailing-vessel, which made the trip to New York in thirty-one days. For some nine years he worked as a farm hand in Connecticut. Since that time he has carried on farming on his own account.
At Norwich, Conn., Mr. Burger was united in marriage, January 9, 1853, with Catherine Miller, who was born in Dunningen, Wurtemberg, Germany, November 25, 1835. She is the daughter of Mathias and Elizabeth (Baumann) Miller, both natives of the same place. Their lives were spent on a farm in Wurtemberg. Of their family six children lived to maturity and three of them emigrated to the United States: Isador crossed the ocean the same time as Mrs. Burger, and died in Fulton County, Ill.; John came to the United States about the year 1854, and died at the home of our subject. Mrs. Burger received her education in Germany, and came to the United States in 1851. Unto our subject and his wife have been born two children, one of whom died in infancy, and Eliza J. died when six years and three months old.
Having followed agricultural pursuits in the East until 1865, Mr. Burger removed to Fulton County, Ill., where he operated a rented farm until 1869. In that year he came to the farm where he still resides, having purchased it the year previous. In company with August Hauback, he bought a quarter-section, which two years later they divided. That was a very wet year and as at that time there had been no ditching or drainage done in the locality, about nine-tenths of the land lay under water. By industry and hard labor he improved his property and now owns a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which is considered one of the best tracts in Douglas Township.
For some twelve years Mr. Burger has served as Road Commissioner and has always been a strong advocate of systematic-drainage. While he was Commissioner he did all in his power to forward that enterprise, and was one of the prominent men in organizing the La Hogue Drainage District. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees since the organization of the district, and is a public-spirited man, being always active in forwarding all measures for the advancement of the local and general interests of the community. In financial matters he has been quite successful, the perseverance and energy with which he has conducted his affairs being crowned with success. At the time of his marriage he had but $50 and his wife $20. By their combined efforts they have a comfortable home and income. He is well and favorably known throughout this section as a man of honor and correct business principles. Politically he is a stanch supporter of the Democratic party.
JOHN WILLIAM ZEA, dealer in grain, hay and coal at La Hogue, is a native of the Empire State, his birth having occurred in Cazenovia, Madison County, October 18, 1835. He is a son of William and Laura (Blackman) Zea. Three brothers by the name of Zea went to Manhattan Island from Germany prior to the Revolutionary War. Two of them returned to the Fatherland, but one, the great-grandfather of our subject, remained in Manhattan island. The father was born in Schoharie County, N. Y., but removed to Madison County, where he married Miss Blackman, a native of Connecticut and of Puritan stock. He was a farmer, as were his ancestors. In 1846, he emigrated to La Salle County, Ill., coming by water as far as Chicago and making the remainder of the journey by wagon. He was a Whig and later a Republican in politics. His death occurred some ten years ago, he having reached the allotted three-score and ten years. Both he and his wife were members of the Methodist Church. She is now living at the advanced age of eighty years and is passing her declining days with her son at Remington, Ind.
Our subject is the second child in order of birth in his father's family, in which there were six sons and three daughters. He was reared to farm life, and after ten years of age was never able to attend school more than three months. Since he was eleven years old he has made his own way in the world. He commenced working on a farm at $5 per month, where he staid until nineteen years of age.
On the 17th of March, 1855, Mr. Zea wedded Mary E. Arris, at Ottawa, La Salle County. She is a native of Maine and a daughter of James and Hannah Arris, who emigrated to Illinois in 1850. Mrs. Zea has one brother and a sister. Mr. and Mrs. Zea are the parents of nine children: John C. is a merchant at Manchester, Kan.; Clara E. is the wife of Adam Laub, of La Hogue; Charles E. is a farmer of Ford County; Mary Alice is the wife of George Hill, of La Hogue; Frank E. and Harry F. reside at home; James A. is a farmer of Ridgeland Township, this county; Sherman L., a graduate of the Onarga Commercial College, is a grain clerk for his father; and the youngest, Lester M., is at home.
The first land ever owned by Mr. Zea was twenty acres in La Salle County, which he sold, and in 1868 went to Piper City, Ford County, where he purchased eighty acres, which he improved and made his home until 1872. He then came to what is now La Hogue, which at that time was only a railroad switch. He had the honor of building the first dwelling at that point, which has since been remodeled and converted into a store. In the fall of the same year, he began in the grain and hay business and has continued in that line since. For the first five years, he was in partnership with James O. Barnard, and for the last fifteen years has been connected with the firm of P. B. & C. C. Miles, of Peoria. He handles from two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand bushels of grain and about one thousand tons of hay per annum. He has been station agent at La Hogue for twenty years, being with one exception the agent longest in the service of the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw Railroad. He also carries on a farm of five hundred and twenty acres. In 1886, he built a good elevator at La Hogue, having a capacity of eighteen thousand bushels of grain.
In his political affiliations, Mr. Zea is a Republican, his first Presidential vote having been cast for J. C. Fremont. He has always taken an active part in politics and conventions, but has never in any sense of the term been an aspirant for office. In his social relations, he is an Odd Fellow and is a Royal Arch Mason. Both he and his estimable wife are members of the Methodist Church, of which he has been Steward and Trustee for the past five years. For twenty years, Mr. Zea has been in business at La Hogue, and is a man well known throughout the county for his fair dealing and business enterprise. He has achieved success through his own efforts and industry.
SAMUEL WASHBURNE ranks among the prominent and highly respected citizens of Ash Grove Township. He follows farming on section 14. The Washburne family is of English origin. The great-grandfather of our subject, with two brothers, left his native land and, braving the dangers of an ocean voyage in those early days, came to the American Colonies. He settled in New York, and when the Revolutionary War broke out aided in the struggle for independence. The grandfather of our subject, Samuel Washburne, was born and reared in Westchester County, N. Y., and there followed farming throughout his entire life.
The father of our subject Willett Washburne, was born in the same county about 1798. He became a farmer, lumberman and contractor. He removed to Oswego County, traveling through the wilderness with ox-teams, and there spent the remainder of his days, his death occurring in 1887. He married Sarah Bashford, a native of Westchester County, N. Y., who died in Oswego County. He took a very active part in political affairs and was a strong supporter of the Whig party. The Washburne family numbered seven sons and five daughters, of whom three sons and three daughters are yet living. One brother, J. M., is now a farmer of Whiteside County, Ill. The youngest brother, W. L., was the originator of the emblematic sign business. At the the President Lincoln was murdered, he was making clocks as signs for jewelers in New York City and placed the hands of these to mark the hour of Lincoln's assassination. All such signs have since been made the same.
The subject of this sketch was born August 9, 1838, on a farm in Oswego County, N. Y., and when old enough commenced lumbering. He remained at home until twenty-one years of-age and then started out in life for himself. The year 1864 witnessed his emigration to Kendall County, Ill., where he rented land for four years. In 1868 he came to Iroquois County and purchased a farm on section 14, Ash Grove Township. This was then in its primitive condition; being entirely destitute of improvements. He turned the first furrow and placed the entire amount under a high state of cultivation. His landed possessions now aggregate three hundred and twenty acres and he operates an additional quarter-section. In connection with the cultivation of his land, he is also engaged in stock-raising, having for the past fifteen years made a specialty of breeding Clydesdale Horses.
Mr. and Mrs. Washburn
Ere leaving the Empire State, Mr. Washburne married Miss Jane A. Lee, who was born December 5, 1839. Their union was celebrated in Oswego County, December 30, 1860. Unto them were born the following children: Flora, who is now the wife of Frank Flutro, of Milford, was born in New York; J. Lee, born in Kendall County, is on the home farm; May is the wife of T. N. Sinderson, and they reside with her father; Charlotte E. is the wife of T. N. Willoughby, a resident of Ash Grove; Eddie is still under the parental roof, and three children are now deceased.
Mr. Washburne is a leading and honored member of the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association. In 1860, he proudly east his first vote for Abraham Lincoln and has since supported the Republican party, which he does from a matter of principle. He is not bound by party ties and should he deem it best to vote otherwise would not hesitate to do so. He has often attended the conventions of his party and is influential in its councils. He has held a number of local offices and his duties were ever promptly and faithfully discharged. He has witnessed much of the development of the county and has done much for its upbuilding and advancement. He made the first road with a road grader and introduced the use of that machine into his township. He also started the tile system for draining the sides of the road, and has ever manifested a commendable interest in public improvements and all that tends to promote the general welfare. Mr. Washburne may truly be called a self-made man, for he started out in life empty-handed. The obstacles and difficulties in his path he overcame by determination and perseverance, and by industry, enterprise and good business ability he has acquired a comfortable competence and is ranked among the well-to-do farmers of Ash Grove Township.
WILLIAM B. FLEAGER, President of the Perfection Bag Holder Company, one of the leading industries of Sheldon, was born in Carlisle, Pa., September 20, 1830, and is a son of Charles and Mary Ann (Wetzel) Fleager, both of whom were natives of the Keystone State, and there spent their entire lives, dying at the age of seventy-five years. The grandparents were also born in Pennsylvania.
Our subject was the eldest of a family of thirteen children, and only himself and the youngest child, Mrs. Anderson, are now living. He entered upon his business career at the age of fourteen years as a clerk in a general merchandise store, where he remained until twenty years of age. He then entered the shop of his father, who was a wagon-maker, and became familiar with the use tools. In 1851, he went to Peoria, Ill., and became clerk for John H. Floyd. He at first received only $8 per month, but his employer soon found that his services were valuable and his wages were gradually increased to $40. With that employer he remained for four years and then returned to his father's home with $400 in gold, which he had saved from his earnings while in the West. After a visit of two weeks in Pennsylvania, he returned to Peoria and embarked in the confectionery business, but it did not prove to be a profitable investment and he lost all of his capital and moved to Cruger, Ill. In the interests of others he carried on a store and the grain business, and was made railroad agent for the Toledo Peoria & Wabash Railroad, and moved to Gilman at the request of that road in the year 1857, being the pioneer of both places. At Gilman he was the first railroad agent for the Illinois Central Railroad and the Toledo, Peoria & Wabash Railroad.
In December, 1858, Mr. Fleager was united in marriage with Miss Maria Brubaker, daughter of Henry Brubaker, of Lancaster, Pa. Unto them were born four children, two of whom are living: George, twenty-five years of age, is now employed in the First National Bank of Chicago; Arthur B. graduated from the Northwestern University June 16, 1892. Mr. Fleager lost his wife in 1875, and in 1877 he married Frances M. Milliman, and unto them were born four children: Clarence E., thirteen years of age; Harry, ten years; Eva, five years; and Sam, two years.
In March, 1860, Mr. Fleager came to Sheldon, being the first one to come, and cast his lot among the earliest settlers; since that time he has been very prominently identified with its history and its upbuilding. Going to Chicago, he purchased one hundred thousand feet of lumber and established a lumber yard. He erected the first building in the town and engaged in the grocery business, which he continued for some time. He also carried on general merchandising and became a dealer in coal and grain. In 1873, he sold his general merchandise establishment and embarked in the banking business as proprietor of the Sheldon Bank, with which he was connected until the 10th of May, 1891, when he sold out and the bank has since been known as the Citizens Bank. He was instrumental in establishing the Perfection Bag Holder Company in 1891, which was organized as a stock company with Mr. Fleager as President, Mr. Wilkinson as Treasurer, and Mr. Whitson as Secretary. They occupy a building 30x80 feet, and from the beginning their trade has constantly increased until they are now doing an excellent business. The industry is one of the leading enterprises of the city. Mr. Fleager is an industrious and persevering man who possesses good business ability, and success has crowned his well-directed efforts. From an early age he has made his own way in the world and has achieved success as the reward of earnest labor.
JAMES A. CLARKE, a well-known farmer and stock-raiser now residing on section 8, Concord Township, was born in Coshocton County, Ohio, November 26, 1842, and is a son of John and Elizabeth N. (Skillman) Clarke. The family is of Irish origin, and was founded in America by the grandfather of our subject, Samuel Clarke, a native of the Emerald Isle, who crossed the Atlantic when eighteen years of age, locating in Coshocton County. He was there married to a lady whose people came from New Jersey, being of English ancestry, and were among the pioneers of Coshocton County. Mr. Clarke was a successful business man, and became a well-to-do farmer of that county.
The father of our subject, John Clarke, was born in Coshocton County, and inherited about one hundred and twenty acres of the old homestead, which still belongs to the heirs. Upon that farm our subject was born and reared. He received his education in the common schools, and remained under the parental roof until he had attained his majority, when he started out in life for himself. He worked for one summer as a farmhand, and then began farming for himself, but made his home with his parents until about thirty years of age, when he concluded to come West. Having disposed of his possessions in Ohio, in February, 1872, he came to Iroquois County with a capital of $600, and located in Concord Township. After a short residence here he married Miss Lavina Hoagland, daughter of James and Hannah (Fox) Hoagland, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work. Mr. Clarke had met his wife while on a visit to Illinois, and her people and his had been neighbors in the Buckeye State. The lady was born May 10, 1844, in Coshocton County, Ohio, and their union was celebrated February 15, 1872.
Immediately after his marriage Mr. Clarke began farming on land belonging to his father-in-law, and in 1878 purchased a tract of sixty acres, which he afterward sold. At length he bought seventy acres on section 28, Concord Township., and now resides on section 29, on land belonging to Mr. Hoagland. He is an enterprising and progressive farmer, and the neat appearance of the place indicates his thrift.
The Clarke home has been blessed by the presence of five children, and the family circle yet remains unbroken. Bertha, born in Concord Township, December 15, 1872; John, October 25, 1874; Bernard, April 19, 1876; Hannah E., February 16, 1878; and James W., July 13, 1880, constitute the family. In his political affiliations, Mr. Clarke is a Democrat, having supported that party since he cast his first Presidential ballot for Gen. George B. McClellan. He has never been an office-seeker, but has served as School Director and as Clerk for fifteen years. The cause of education finds in him a warm friend, and he has done effective service for the upbuilding and advancement of the schools. Mr. Clarke and his wife both hold membership with the United Brethren Church, and are highly respected people, whose many excellencies of character have won them a large circle of friends. They are numbered among the best citizens of the community, and with pleasure we present to our readers this brief history of their lives.
EDWARD GAGNON, a prosperous farmer residing on section 10, Martinton Township, Iroquois County, is a native of Canada, his birth having occurred in Montreal November 1, 1840. He is a son of Charles Gagnon, of the same country, and is of French parentage. The early days of the father were passed in his native land, where he was married to Cecil Barggon. In Canada he was occupied in farming during his life, and his death occurred about the year 1847, he being then in the prime of life. Mrs. Gagnon was again married, this time to Simon Frigon, who removed to the United States in 1856, settling in Iroquois County, Ill. the following year. He purchased a farm in Beaver Township, engaging in farming, and there reared his family. He is now retired and is enjoying a well-earned rest in the town of St. Mary's.
Edward Gagnon came with his parents to this county in 1856, being then a youth of sixteen. He had but limited school advantages in his native land, and until about seventeen his life was mostly spent on a farm, where he was occupied in the usual manner of farmer boys. He then started for himself, working by the month for several years for neighboring farmers. In this county, in November, 1861, he led to the marriage altar Monique Cote, who came to the United States from Canada when a child of ten years, and was reared to womanhood in Illinois. She is one of a family consisting of three sons and nine daughters, all of whom survive, seven being residents of Iroquois County.
To Mr. and Mrs. Gagnon have been born the following children: James, the eldest, who was a young man of good education and was a teacher in this county, and died September 30, 1892. He had lately entered the Rush Medical College in Chicago, and expected to make the medical profession his business in life. Florent, who occupies a responsible position in Chicago. Prim, now learning the blacksmith's trade in St. Mary's. Eddie and Ezra, who reside at home. Zea Mary and Vitaline are also under the parental roof. A daughter, Emma, died in November, 1880, in her fifteenth year, and three others died in infancy.
After his marriage, Mr. Gagnon removed to Indiana locating on a farm which he rented in Tippecanoe County, near La Fayette. In the fall of 1865, he returned to Illinois and purchased a farm of forty acres in Beaver Township. This he cultivated for seven years, then, selling his property, he purchased eighty acres where he now resides. At the time of his purchase this was a piece of wild prairie land, which he has broken and fenced and brought under a high state of cultivation. To his original purchase he has from time to time made additions until he is now the owner of two hundred arid twenty acres of valuable land. He has also erected a good house and other farm buildings. Commencing in life empty-handed, he has achieved success, and prosperity has crowned his years of labor and industry.
Mr. Gagnon is identified with the Democratic party and, with the exception of voting for Abraham Lincoln in 1864, he has always supported the Democratic nominees and principles. Though never an aspirant for office, he has held several local positions of trust and honor to the satisfaction of his friends and neighbors. He is a friend to all measures for the public good and education, and huts served for several years as a member of the School Board. Mr. Gagnon and his family are members of the Catholic Church. For thirty-six years he has been identified with the interests of this county, which he has done all in his power to advance. He is recognized as one of the best farmers of the county and, with his estimable wife, is much esteemed and honored throughout this section.
LUKE M. GERDES, who has for a quarter of a century made his home in Illinois, and has for the past twenty-two years been a resident of Iroquois County, is a prosperous farmer living on section 14, Danforth Township. He was born in Hanover, Germany, on the 26th of September, 1844, and is a son of George Gerdes, of Hanover, who grew to manhood, married, reared his family, and spent his whole life there. Our subject is the youngest of three sons, of whom the eldest is Arend, who was a farmer and resided until his death in Germany. The other brother, Alt, emigrated to this country and is now a commission merchant of Peoria.
The youthful days of Luke Gerdes were spent in his native land, where he received fair school advantages in the German language. Since coming to America he has become proficient in English, mainly through his study and observation. He enlisted in the German army in 1866, and served in the German Civil War. He participated in the battle of Langensalza, which took place on the 27th of June, 1866. After a service of about a year and a-half he received his discharge. As soon as he was released from military service, he determined to seek a home in the Western Hemisphere. Accordingly, in 1868, he sailed from Bremen in a steam-vessel. The voyage across the broad Atlantic was made in fourteen days, and he arrived at New York in April of 1868. He immediately turned his face Westward, and went first to Chicago and from there to Peoria, where he located for a time. He afterward went to Washington, where he engaged in farm labor for a year. In 1870, he removed to Danforth Township and engaged in farming on rented land for about five years. At the end of that time he purchased a tract of eighty acres of unimproved and unbroken prairie laud, near the farm where he now resides. Here he made his home for nine years, and was very successful in his efforts to improve and develop the property, and at the same time made a very comfortable income. In his present farm of one hundred and sixty acres he has a very valuable and desirable piece of property. He has a good and substantial two-story residence, barns and other outbuildings. His home is located about three and a-half miles west of Danforth and Mr. Gerdes has well tiled and in many ether ways added to its value since his purchase. He is considered one of the well-to-do and enterprising farmers of the township, and has accumulated a great estate through years of industry and labor. He is pre-eminently a self-made man, as he commenced his business life without capital.
At Peoria, in 1869, Mr. Gerdes was married to Susanna Crutzenberg who was also born in the Fatherland, and came to the United States in September, 1868. By this union seven children have been born: George, Herman, Frederick, Theodore, Alwina, Henry and Louisa. The parents of these children are members of the German Lutheran Church, in which they are much esteemed for their zeal and activity. During his long residence in this locality, Mr. Gerdes has been a witness of much of growth and development of the county, in whose advancement he has materially aided. He has seen it change from a country of swamps to one of the best and most fertile farming districts of the State. He is considered one of the representative citizens, and is one of the most honored farmers of Iroquois County. Enterprise, industry and perseverance are among his chief characteristics, and his business ability and wise investments have brought to him a good competence.
John E. LEATHERMAN
JOHN E. LEATHERMAN, an honored veteran of the late war, now residing at Watseka, was born at Greencastle, Ind., January 7, 1833, and is descended from good old Revolutionary stock, his paternal grandfather having been one of the heroes in the War of Independence. The father of our subject, Abram Leatherman, was born in Pennsylvania in 1801,and, after attaining to mature years, wedded Mary Duwese, daughter of Thomas Duwese. Unto them were born nine children, six sons and three daughters. Four served in the war. William, the eldest, died in the army after about a year's service; Evan D. served a short time toward the close of the war; Abram served three years in the same company and regiment as our subject.
The parents of the above family were quiet, unassuming farmers, and consistent members of the Baptist Church. As early as 1835, they settled near Elgin, Ill. and spent their last days in that city, he dying at the age of eighty-six, and she at eighty-five. Politically, he was a stanch Democrat, but only one of his sons huts followed his example.
The subject of this sketch, John E. Leatherman, was reared on his father's farm near Elgin, when a young man came to Illinois and in Elgin was married July 3,1856, to Miss Lucy Rogers Hatch, daughter of Elijah and Phoebe Hatch, the former a native of Broome County, N. Y., and the latter of Connecticut. Both the paternal and maternal grandfather of Mrs. Leatherman were Revolutionary soldiers. The one on the mother's side attained the advanced age of ninety-six years, but during the war in which he served as Captain came very near losing his life. Upon one of the battlefields of that struggle, the Americans were defeated with heavy loss and utterly routed. The few that escaped with their lives became scattered, and many of the soldier's wandered about in the woods and starved to death. Mr. Hatch wandered through the heavy timber for many days, subsisting on the roots of trees, etc. When almost starved he happened to find a cow with a bell tied to her neck. This he took off and, milking the cow, drank from the bell the beverage which saved his life. This bell is now in possession of one of the children, and is highly prized as a memento of the Revolutionary War and the grandfather's service therein.
Mr. and Mrs. Leatherman had one child, a daughter, Katie Estella, who was born April 10, 1858, but she died on the 24th of April, 1863, at the age of five years and fourteen days. They have given a home to three children, namely: Lois Stroud, who is now married and lives in Oklahoma; Morton Wollen, and Jessie Estella, who is now twelve years of age.
In politics, our subject is a supporter of Republican principles. He maintains an active and commendable interest in all that pertains to the welfare of the community and the promotion of its best interests. Himself and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mrs. Leatherman cast her first vote in the spring of 1892, supporting Miss Lawrence and Mrs. Tucker for School Directors, and these ladies won the election over two opposing gentlemen. During the late war Mr. Leatherman manifested his loyalty to the Government by marching to the front. He joined, August 1,1862, Company F, One Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois Infantry, and served for three years. For nine months during his service he was held as a prisoner, being incarcerated at Andersonville about eight months of that time. When he went to that infamous pen he was a strong, hearty man, but when he came out he was almost dead from starvation and exposure.
Mr. Leatherman participated in three severe engagements, besides numerous skirmishes: siege of Vicksburg, Arkansas Post and the battle of Guntown, or, as Mr. Leatherman calls it, "Sturges sell out." It was at the last-named battle that our subject was taken prisoner.
Meritorious conduct won Mr. Leatherman promotion and he was mustered out Second Lieutenant. Returning home he engaged in farming in Iroquois County, where he had located in 1856. Having farmed until 1882 he removed to Watseka. He owns eighty acres of valuable land adjoining the city on the north, besides one hundred and twenty acres a short distance from town, all of which has been made by the combined efforts of himself and wife. To all the duties of a citizen he is now as faithful as when he wore the blue.
ISAAC M. SPROULE, the agent for the Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw and the Illinois Central Railroad Companies at Gilman, was born in Montour County, Pa. His birth occurred on the 10th of February, 1834, and he is a son of James C. Sproule, who was a native of Ireland, being of Scotch ancestry. In the Old Country his father learned the trade of harness-making. About 1812, he came to the United States and settled in Baltimore, Md. He afterward became a prominent politician, and for many years was United States Marshal for the Western District of Pennsylvania. There he married Euphemia Marshall, a native of the Keystone State. Her parents came from Scotland, and her father served in the War of 1812. The father and mother of our subject died in Pennsylvania. Mr. Sproule was a member of the Methodist Church, while his wife held membership with the Presbyterian Church. He was a Jackson Democrat, and lived to be sixty-eight years of age; his wife passed away at the age of fifty-four. In their family of seven sons and six daughters, seven are living, the youngest of whom is fifty-six years of age.
Our subject is the seventh son and twelfth child in his father's family. He received his education in the common schools, supplemented by a course in Dickinson Seminary. As he was the seventh son, his father desired him to study medicine, but after a month or two spent in that direction, he went into the store of the Montaur Iron Works at Danville, and was there for about two years. He then spent a year in the store at Union Furnace, Lewisburg, Pa. He afterward returned to the Montaur Iron Works, and there remained until March, 1857, when he went to Mendota, Ill., for Hastings, Adams & Co., grain dealers.
In September of that year, Mr. Sproule returned to Pennsylvania, and on the 21st of September was united in matrimony with Sophia A., daughter of Col. Samuel A. Brady, who was of Scotch descent. Mrs. Sproule's mother, who before her marriage bore the name of Jane Hartman, is of German descent, and is now living with her daughter at the age of seventy-eight. Col. Brady died August 30, 1873. Mrs. Sproule was born in Lycoming, Pa., July 16, 1836, and is one of four children, two sons and two daughters. Three children have come to the home of our worthy subject and his wife. Charles M. died when ten years of age; Carrie is the wife of George W. Miller, an attorney of Chicago; and Willie L. died in his fifteenth year.
After his marriage Mr. Sproule returned to Mendota, and in 1858 engaged in the hotel business with his father-in-law, at Ft. Wayne, Ind. The following year he went to Mendota, and was train-master and cashier for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. Returning to Ft. Wayne, Ind., he ran freight and passenger rains until 1864, and was then appointed train-master by the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Railroad. He occupied that position until the spring of 1867, and for the following three years ran a train on the Illinois Central. In 1870, he was appointed agent at Monee, Will County, Ill., where he staid for seven and a half years, and was then transferred to Effingham. In March, 1881, he was again transferred, this time locating in Gilman, where he remained for a number of years. On the 16th of January, 1888, he went to California as agent for the California Central and California Southern at San Bernardino. Returning to Gilman in February, 1889, he had charge of the station until 1891, when he spent two months in Florida. He then took charge of the Station at Burnside's Crossing for the Illinois Central and Chicago & Western Indiana Belt Railroad. On the 11th of January, 1892, he returned to Gilman, and has been station agent since.
The family of Mr. Sproule resides at Dauphin Park, Chicago, where he has a pleasant and commodious home. Mr. Sproule has been a lifelong Democrat, and socially belongs to the Knights of Honor and is one of the original members of the Railway Conductors' Insurance Association. He has also been a Mason for thirty-seven years. He is largely interested in Chicago property, and deals extensively in real estate. Assisted by his estimable wife, he has made a competence and is very well off. He and his family are members of the Presbyterian Church, to which they give their interest and support.
WILLIAM J. ALLHANDS, who is widely and favorably known throughout this county, is now successfully engaged in farming on section 12, Belmont Township. A native of the Buckeye State, he was born in Butler County, December 22, 1821. His father, Daniel Allhands, was a native of Virginia. Emigrating to Kentucky, he there married Patience Sadler, a native of that State. In an early day they removed to Ohio, and in 1833 went to Indiana. Mr. Allhands hewed out a farm in the midst of the forest, and there made his home until his death in 1848. His wife died at the home of her son in Champaign County, Ill. He had served as Justice of the Peace and as constable, and in politics was a Jackson Democrat. During the War of 1812, he aided in the service under Gen. Harrison. Throughout his entire life he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Allhands family numbered eleven children, and, with the exception of one, all grew to mature years. John is now living in Ohio; Nancy, Andrew, Betsy and Thomas are all deceased; Katie resides in Marion County, Iowa; Patsy and Daniel are also deceased; George enlisted in an Indiana regiment and died in the service; and William completes the family.
The subject of this sketch left Ohio at the age of eleven years, and was reared and pioneer scenes in Indiana. His education was acquired in the common schools, which he attended in the winter season, for in the summer months his labors were needed at home upon the farm, where he early learned to swing the ax and scythe. At the age of eighteen he began working as a farm hand by the month, and the following year commenced farming for himself in Montgomery County. In 1852 he came to Illinois on a prospecting tour, and in the autumn of 1854 made a permanent location. At that time there were scarcely any settlements in the neighborhood, and the land was all wild and unimproved.
Mr. Allhands was married in Indiana, in 1842 to Miss Catherine Hixson, a native of Butler County, Ohio. She died in 1848. Four children were born of that union. Erastus J., who was a member of Company A, Seventy-sixth Illinois Infantry, is now deceased; Seth is a traveling salesman; Catherine is the wife of Isaac Peddycoart, of Iroquois County; and one child died in infancy. Mr. Allhands was again married. in 1849, in Indiana, his second union being with Miss Martha A. Moore, a native of Adams County, Ohio, and a daughter of Jacob and Rachel (Van Pelt) Moore. Her father was born in the Buckeye State and died in Indiana. Her mother was a native of Tennessee, and died in Montgomery County.
By this second marriage have been born eleven children namely: Horace Quinn who died in childhood; Daniel, a resident farmer of Belmont Township; Jacob, of this county; Sarah, now deceased; Esther Ann, wife of George Bradrick of this county; George, an agriculturist of Belmont Township; John, of Sheldon Township; Nancy and Ida May, now deceased; Blanche, at home; and Minerva, wife of Lincoln Sayler, of Belmont Township. The children were educated in the public schools, and some of the family have successfully engaged in teaching.
Mr. Allhands cast his first vote for James K. Polk, and has since been a supporter of the Democratic party. Himself and wife are members of the United Brethren Church, and are numbered among its active workers. His business career has been a successful one. He started out in life with no capital save a young man's bright hope of the future and a determination to succeed but has steadily worked his way upward to a position of affluence, and is now the owner of a valuable farm of two hundred and eighty acres. He has made his home in the county for thirty-eight years, and has ever borne his part in its development. In its upbuilding he has aided, and is numbered among its prominent and influential citizens.
THOMAS SHRIMPLIN, who is engaged in farming and stock-raising on section 33 Concord Township, where he owns and operates one hundred and sixty acres of arable land, is a native of the Buckeye State. He was born in Knox County on the 18th of October, 1842, and is a son of Abraham and Susanna (Carpenter) Shrimplin, both of whom were natives of Ohio. The paternal grandfather, Abraham Shrimplin, was born in New Jersey and was one of the early settlers of Knox County, having built the first grist mill within its borders. At the time of has arrival, the Indians had not yet left for their Western reservation. He experienced all the hardships and privations of frontier life and engaged both in farming and milling. His death occurred in Knox County.
The father of our subject, who was born and reared in Knox County, was also a farmer by occupation and followed that business throughout his entire life. When Thomas was a young lad, he removed with his family to Defiance County, Ohio, and purchased land, about six miles north of Ft. Defiance, where he spent the remainder of huts life, engaged in agricultural pursuits. He was born in 1818 and died on the 20th of January, 1891, at the age of seventy-three.
Thomas Shrimplin was the second in order of birth in a family of ten children who grew to mature years. He remained on the home farm and gave his father the benefit of his services until about twenty-eight years of age, when, in 1870, he came to Iroquois County and began farming. Ere leaving the State of his nativity, he was united in marriage, December 12, 1867, with Miss Anna Eastburn, daughter of Jesse R. and Tabitha (Critchfield) Eastburn. The lady was born in Concord Township, this county, December 20, 1850, and three children grace their union: Abram J., born in Williams County, Ohio, September 29, 1868, is a member of Paragon Lodge, K. of P., of Sheldon, Ill. George W. was born in Defiance County, September 30, 1870, and is a member of the same order. Ellen was born on the home farm in this county September 6, 1876.
In his political affiliations, Mr. Shrimplin is a Democrat, having been identified with that party since he east his first vote for George B. McClellan. He has resided upon his present farm since 1873, when he purchased eighty acres of land, to which he has since added an additional tract of eighty acres. His farm is now under a high state of cultivation and well improved. He has laid many rods of tiling upon it; well-kept fences separate it into fields of convenient size, and good buildings are numbered among its substantial improvements. Mr. Shrimplin is an enterprising and progressive farmer and now ranks among the well-to-do citizens of the community, He is held in high regard by all who know him, and during his twenty years residence in the county he has formed a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
GARRISON BROWN, M. D., who is engaged the practice of medicine and surgery at 24 Crescent City, and is also proprietor of a drug store at that place, was born in Wayne County, N. Y., on the 5th of January, 1847. The family is of English descent and is among the oldest families of New Jersey. The grandfather of our subject, Samuel Brown, was a native of that State, and Elisha Brown, the father of the Doctor, was there born on the 8th of October, 1807. He grew to manhood in the State of his nativity and emigrated to Wayne County, N. Y., with his father, locating in the town of Williamson. He was twice married, his second wife being the mother of our subject. She bore the maiden name of Mary Durfee and was the daughter of Stephen Durfee, one of the early settlers of Wayne County, who came from Rhode Island and located near Palmyra. Elisha Brown still resides in the Empire State and has reached the advanced age of eighty-five years.
The Doctor is the eldest in a family of two sons and two daughters he has a half-brother and sister, children of his father's first marriage, he grew to manhood in Palmyra and acquired a good education in the public schools and academy. He afterward engaged in teaching school for one term, and when a young man emigrated Westward, locating in Tama County, Iowa, in 1868. He there purchased raw land and began the development of a farm, which he operated for two years. On the expiration of that period, he purchased a drug and grocery store in Waltham, and also took up the study of medicine. He attended his first course of lectures in 1877, in Keokuk, Iowa, and was graduated in the Class of '78 with the degree of M. D. He then returned to Waltham, where he engaged in practice until thus following spring, when he sold out and came to Iroquois County. Since that time he has been a resident of Crescent City, and to medical practice has devoted his time and attention with excellent success. In the fall of 1891, he also established a drug store which he carries on in connection with his son Fay.
Ere leaving Waltham, Dr. Brown was married, on the 22d of December, 1869, to Miss Elizabeth A. Hagerman, a native of Leeds County, Ontario, Canada, and a daughter of Richard Hagerman. Eight children have been born of their union, the eldest of whom is Fay, a well-educated young man possessed of good business ability, who is now in business with his father; Mary and De Witt G. are at home; H. T. Cleaver died in October, 1881, at the age of four years. The younger members of the family are B. F., Eva T., Ida E. and Harold T.
The Doctor is a stalwart Republican in politics, having supported that party since he cast his first ballot for Gen. U. S. Grant, but he has never been an aspirant for office. In his social relations, he is an Odd Fellow and has filled all the chairs of the local lodge, now serving as Past Grand. His wife is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In business and social circles Dr. Brown ranks high. Thorough preparation fitted him for his profession, and the experience he has gained by practice, combined with his skill and natural ability, has made him one of the successful practitioners of this county. During his thirteen years' residence in Crescent City, he has gained a liberal patronage, which he well deserves.
SAMUEL W. MONTGOMERY, one of the early settlers of the county, follows farming on section 27, Belmont Township, where he has made his home for a third of a century. A native of Russell County, Va., he was born April 30, 1816. His grandfather, John Montgomery, aided the Colonies in their struggle for independence, serving as a scout against the Indians. He was also Sheriff of his county.
Alex Montgomery, father of our subject, was born and reared in the Old Dominion, and throughout his life followed the occupation of farming. He married Barbara Harris, and in 1817 they removed to Kentucky, settling on the Licking River, among the mountains. In 1822, they became residents of Franklin County, Ind., and in that fall the father died. The mother reared hem family, keeping them all together. At length she came to Illinois and during her last days found a pleasant home with our subject. Her death occurred about 1861. Mr. Montgomery was a prominent member of the Methodist Church and was always well informed in regard to church news, reading extensively the publications of his denomination. In politics he was a Democrat. In the family of this worthy couple were the following children: Susan, now deceased; Lincoln, who resides in Alabama; John, who died in Illinois; Samuel, of this sketch; William, who was killed by falling from a tree when a lad; Jane, now deceased; and Margaret, who resides in Coles County, Ill.
We now take up the personal history of our subject, who is one of the county's leading citizens. He was a lad of only six years when with his parents he moved to Indiana, where he was reared to manhood upon a farm. He aided in clearing land and performed the arduous task of developing a new farm, while for recreation he engaged in hunting deer and other wild game, which were plentiful and which furnished many a meal to the family. He remained at home until his marriage, which was celebrated in Fountain County, Ind., in 1836, the lady of his choice being Miss Charity Devore, who was born in Kentucky, but was reared in Monroe County, Ind. For ten years Mr. Montgomery resided on the border line of Grant Prairie, in Warren County, Ind., and in 1849 he came to Iroquois County, Ill. Purchasing a farm of ninety acres in Concord Township, near Bunkum, he there made his home until 1860, when he removed to his present place of residence. The year previous he had purchased two hundred and forty acres of hand, and afterward extended the boundaries of his farm until it comprised four hundred acres, but has since disposed of an eighty-acre tract. He has been a successful agriculturist, has placed his laud under a high state of cultivation and as the result of his industry and good management he has acquired a handsome property. The many improvements, both useful and ornamental, which he has placed upon his land have made it one of the valuable and desirable farms of the township.
The death of Mrs. Montgomery occurred in August, 1840. Two children were born of that union. Susan died in childhood; Elizabeth died after her marriage. Mr. Montgomery was again married, in Warren County, Ind., January 13, 1842, his second union being with Sarah Herriman, who was born in Clarke County, Ohio, and who when a young lady went to Warren County, Ind. Her parents were Stephen and Abigail (Buckland) Herriman, both natives of Vermont. The mother died in Ohio, when Mrs. Montgomery was a small child. Of the second marriage have been born the following children: Charity L., a native of Warren County, Ind., is now the wife of John Gaffield, who resides near Sheldon, Ill.; Mary, born in Warren County, is the wife of J. M. Barnes, of Hoopeston; Henry Clay, who was born in Warren County, enlisted in the Seventy-sixth Illinois Regiment, was wounded in a charge at Ft. Chadburn Ala., and died November 8,1877, in Missouri; William was born in Iroquois County, and is a farmer of Belmont Township; John D. died at the age of two years; Stephen H. died at the age of seventeen; Margaret is the wife of John Fanning, of Woodland; Alonzo D. is a farmer of Belmont Township; Olive is now deceased; and Charles operates a farm near the old homestead.
Mr. Montgomery is truly a self-made man. He had not even good educational advantages to aid him. He has had both to educate himself and to make his own way in the world financially. With a young man's bright hope of the future and a strong determination to succeed, he started out in life, and has worked his way steadily upward, overcoming the obstacles in his path by his perseverance and enterprise. He now has a comfortable competence. His farm and pleasant residence are valuable property. He was the first of the family to vote the Whig ticket, supporting William Henry Harrison in 1840. He voted for Fremont in 1856, and has since been a stalwart Republican. He served as Justice of the Peace for about ten years and for one term as Supervisor. His wife belongs to the United Brethren Church, and Mr. Montgomery is a faithful member of the Christian Church of Woodland. His life has been well and worthily spent, and his upright career has won him universal confidence. For forty-three years he has made his home in Iroquois County, and has ever borne his part in its upbuilding and development. Such is the record of a valued citizen, the honored pioneer and self-made man, Samuel W. Montgomery.
JONATHAN WRIGHT, one of the oldest settlers of Iroquois County, was born at Terre Haute, Ind., December 27, 1831. He is a son of David C. and Ede (McKown) Wright. His grandfather Wright came from England, and served in the War of the Revolution. He was an Elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was much honored in the Colonies. His grandfather McKown emigrated from Ireland to the United States, served in the same war, and was wounded in the thigh, for which he received a pension. The grandmothers of our subject were sisters, bearing the name of Kerl, and were of Swedish ancestry. The father of our subject was born in Jackson County, Va., and his mother in Pennsylvania, but when a girl she removed to Jackson County with her parents. His father served in the War of 1812, and after his death his widow received a pension. About the year 1828 they came by flat-boat down the Ohio River, and by steamboat they were pulled up the Wabash River as far as Terre Haute. Mr. Wright was a miller and millwright by trade, following that for a time in Virginia, although farming was his chief occupation, and thus he followed at Terre Haute. In 1835 he came to the eastern part of what is now Douglas Township. There were but few settlers and they were scattered along Spring Creek. He entered one hundred and twenty acres of land, on which he spent the rest of his life, dying in his sixty-third year. He was a life-long Democrat and of his eight sons all save one were of the same political faith. The mother spent her last days with our subject and passed away at the age of eighty-four years. In their family were ten children, eight sons and two daughters, of whom seven survive.
Mr. Wright, of this sketch, is the seventh child in his father's family, and was reared on the farm, having very poor advantages in the way of an education, theme being no schools in the community at that early day. His father, who was a smart man and well educated, taught one of the first district schools in this part of the county. Our subject worked at a hotel in Middleport for his board, and went to school one winter. Another winter he did likewise, and that comprised all the schooling he had until after he was grown, but throughout life he has been a student and close observer, and has acquired a valuable fund of knowledge which many who have superior educational advantages might well envy. At nineteen years of age he lost his father, and thus the care of his mother and the younger members of the family fell upon his youthful shoulders. From boyhood he had worked at carpentering, but on coming to Gilman he engaged in the butchering business for a time and then he with his brother took a contract to build the bridges from Gilman to the State line. As the county was insolvent, he lost about $l,000 in this enterprise. He has the distinction of having built the first residence in Gilman, the house which C. Cross now lives in. Prior to that there had been but a few huts and shanties erected.
In May, 1870, occurred the marriage of Mr. Wright to Maria Place, a native of the Empire State, who came to Grundy County, Ill., with her parents when young. Mr. and Mrs. Wright have two children: Camilla, who is a graduate of the Gilman High School; and Elmo, who, like his father, is a carpenter, and is his father's assistant. The wife and daughter are members of the Methodist Church.
In August, 1862, Mr. Wright enlisted in Company A, Seventy-sixth Illinois infantry, and was mustered into service at Kankakee. His company was called to the Mississippi River and Gulf Department. The first engagement of importance in which they took part was the siege of Vicksburg; then followed the second battle of Jackson, Miss., Sabine Cross Roads, and the capture of Ft. Blakely. At the last-named battle the Seventy-sixth Regiment numbered less than three hundred, but in twenty minutes ninety-eight of that number were either killed or wounded. Their regimental flag was the first to be hoisted over the fort. Our subject was never wounded or taken prisoner, but at Blakely, while pursuing a rebel, he man clear into the rebel lines and at that time and several others had very narrow escapes. He was mustered out at Galveston, Tex.,and receives his discharge at Chicago in 1865, having served three years and three months as a faithful supporter of the Union.
Returning to Gilman he worked at carpentering, also following that occupation at Watseka, Chicago and Chatsworth. Shortly after the close of the year he purchased a farm in Douglas Township, which he ran for about a year and then sold it. He has since made his home in Gilman. He is a Democrat in his political opinions, but has not been an office seeker. He has served as constable, however, most acceptably for a period of ten years. He is a member of the Gilman Post No. 186, G. A. R. Mr. Wright owns considerable town property as the reward of his industry and frugality. He may truly be called a self-made man, for it is entirely owing to his own efforts that he has acquired the property which ranks him among the substantial citizens and successful business men of the county.
WILLIAM Y. CLARK. proprietor of the planing mill of Sheldon, was born in England, April 10, 1852. He s the eldest of a family of five children who were born unto William and Ann (Yardy) Clark, also natives of England. When our subject was an infant his parents bade good-bye to their old home and crossed the broad Atlantic to America, settling first near Lockport, N. Y., where they resided for five year's. On the expiration of that period, they removed to Benton County, Ind., where the mother's death occurred in 1859. The father was afterward again married and by that union had seven children. He resided in Benton County for about thirty years, and in 1890 came to Sheldon, where he has since resided. He is now a hale and hearty man of sixty-four years and is a valued citizen of the community.
The subject of this sketch spent his boyhood days upon his fathers farm and in the winter season attended the common school, while in the summer months he worked in the fields. He gave his father the benefit of his service until he had attained his majority, when he started out to earn his own livelihood. Ere leaving home, he had learned the carpenters trade, and in 1873 he came to Sheldon, where he followed that occupation successfully for a number of years. He was an expert workman and always enjoyed a good trade, his services being much in demand. In 1881, he embarked in his present business, purchasing the planing mill of C. Corlette. The mill, however, had for some time been operated by the Light Bros.
In January, 1876, Mr. Clark was united in marriage with Miss Carrie Applegate, of Indiana. The family circle now numbers four children, two sons and two daughters: Delbert, Charlie, Grace and Anna, and the circle has never been broken by the hand of Death.
Success has attended the industrious and persevering efforts of our subject, who is a man of good business ability, enterprising and progressive. By his fair and honest dealing and excellent work he has secured a liberal patronage and is now doing a prosperous business, which is but the just reward of his labors. Socially, Mr. Clark is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and he exercises his right of franchise in support of the Republican party. He is a well-known business man of the community and is a prominent citizen. During the twenty years of his residence here, he has made many friends and won the high regard of all by his sterling worth.
James T. WATKINS
JAMES T. WATKINS, a representative farmer residing on section 26, Middleport Township, where he owns three hundred and sixty acres of valuable land, was born near Winchester, Va., on the 14th of November, 1836, and is a son of Henry and Ann (Powelson) Watkins. His parents were both natives of the Old Dominion, and unto them were born six children, the eldest of whom, John W., now resides with our subject. Francis is a farmer living in Kansas; Elizabeth is now a resident of Virginia; Henry M. died in 1863; and Benjamin M. is engaged in agricultural pursuits in Bates County, Mo.
The father of this family met his death by drowning, while Crossing the Potomac River, on the 2d of February, 1850. His wife died the following year. They were both members of the Baptist Church and were people of sterling worth, whose upright lives won for them many friends.
Mr. Watkins, our subject, was born and reared a his father's farm and acquired a good English education, attending school during the winter season through the greater part of his boyhood and youth. He began to earn his own livelihood which twenty-one years of age, and whatever he now possesses has been acquired through his own efforts. When a young man, accompanied by a friend, he made a trip over the mountains on horseback to Licking County, Ohio. That winter he attended school, and the following spring he led out to a farmer for two seasons. He then located land and engaged in farming for himself for one summer. The succeeding autumn he returned to Virginia alone on horseback, and when he again came to Ohio brought a drove of horses with him. This business of bringing horses over the mountains to the Western States he followed until 1862.
In that year, he responded to the country's call for troops. Joining the boys in blue of Company A, Ninety-sixth Ohio Infantry, he went to the front and participated in the battles of Vicksburg and Arkansas Post. In the latter Mr. Watkins was wounded in the left leg by a shell, and was then taken to Memphis, Tenn., where he was soon afterward discharged on account of disability. When mustered out he returned at once to Ohio, and afterward purchased a herd of young cattle, which he drove through to Iroquois County, Ill., pasturing them upon the prairies of Sheldon Township. In 1865, he purchased eighty acres of land in Sheldon Township, upon which he made his home for a year. He then brought another eighty acre tract of land on section 26, Middleport Township, then a nucleus of his present fine farm, to which he has added from time to time until now three hundred and sixty acres of arable land pay a golden tribute to the care and cultivation he bestows upon it. He cheated and improved the place himself and his farm is as a monument to his thrift and enterprise. He now carries on general farming and stock-raising and is regarded as one of the prosperous citizens of the community.
On the l3th of September, 1864, Mr. Watkins was married to Miss Martha, daughter of Putnam and Lucy (Herriman) Gaffield. Her father is a native of Vermont, born May 25, 1811, but an early day he left the Green Mountain State and went to Ohio, where he was reared to manhood in the usual manner of farmer lads, he is a man of much natural ability, and in the common schools he acquired a good English education. He now resides in Concord Township, Iroquois County. He came to Illinois in 1855, and has since been an honored citizen of this community. He married Miss Lucy Herriman, a native of Ohio, and their union, which was celebrated in 1832, was blessed with a family of nine children, two sons and seven daughters, of whom five are yet living.
Mary, the eldest, is the wife of R. P. Case, who resides in Iroquois village; Elmira is the wife of George R. Dunning, a resident of Englewood, Ill., who is employed as watch man on the crossing of the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad; Nancy was joined in wedlock with Isaac C. Denney, a successful and enterprising farmer residing in Indiana; Mrs. Watkins is the next younger and William completes the family. He married Miss Lizzie Flerh, and makes his home in Englewood, being employed as a salesman in the stock yards at Chicago. The mother of this family was called to her final rest in 1887.
Mrs. Watkins is a native of the Buckeye State. She was born on the 9th of October, 1847, and resided in Ohio until eight years of age, when she came with her parents to Illinois. She is a lady of many pleasant and excellent qualities, held in high esteem by her large circle of friends, and to her husband she has proved a valuable helpmate. By the union of our subject and his wife have been born six children, as follows: Dicie A., who died in 1869; Bertha M., wife of Nelson Fanyo, a farmer residing in Middleport Township; Henry M., Zodock P., James T. and Hattie V., who are still under the parental roof. The family has long been connected with this community and its interests and in social circles its members rank high.
In politics, Mr. Watkins is a supporter of Democratic principles and has held the office of Road Commissioner and School Director, discharging the duties with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents. Socially, he is a member of the Odd Fellows' society and he also belongs to the Baptist Church. Himself and wife are respecters of everything tending to the, moral improvement of the community, and their lives have been to their children an example worthy of emulation. We see in Mr. Watkins a self-made man, whose excellent success is due entirely to his own well-directed and untiring efforts. Prosperity has not come to him unsought, for he has labored long and earnestly, and his perseverance, enterprise and good management have won for him the comfortable competence which is today his.
HUGH A. McGAUGHY, a leading farmer and influential citizen of Douglas Township, was born in Hocking County, Ohio, September 4, 1835. His great-grandfather was a Scotch emigrant who came to America and served in the War of the Revolution. His grandfather, a blacksmith by trade, served in the War of 1812, and was one of the citizens who went to Baltimore to prevent the British troops from landing there. His father was born in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1807, and there he married Lucinda White, who was also born in the same locality, in 1814. Soon after their marriage they emigrated to Lima, Ohio, where he secured one hundred and sixty acres of land, now in the productive oil regions. After living there seven years and having cleared forty acres of land, he sold the same for less than he originally gave on account of sickness. Going to Licking County, he made that his home until 1853, when he removed to Illinois, he and part of the family coming by rail and the rest by wagon. They first located at Ottawa, La Salle County. The country was then decidedly new and wild. He improved a farm there, where he lived many years. Late in his life he moved to Washington County Iowa, where he died in 1890, his wife having died in 1873. They were both earnest members of the Presbyterian Church. Politically, he was a Whig and later a Republican. In their family were eight children, of whom one son and four daughters are yet living.
The subject of this sketch was reared to farm life and received such an education as the common schools of that early day afforded. He attended a log schoolhouse in Ohio, and as the country was heavily timbered. His father blazed trees in order that he could find the way to and from school. When the family removed to Illinois it fell to his lot to drive the wagon; when some distance out from Crawfordsville, Ind., their wagon was mired and they were obliged to return and take a different road. They then came on to Iroquois County, making their way to the Elk Horn House, but getting lost they camped out in the neighborhood of Bunkum. Duck, geese and prairie chickens were very plentiful at that time.
In La Salle County, on the 26th of February, 1863, Mr. McGaughy led to the marriage altar Miss Jennette G. Howard, daughter of Clark and Serepta (Haskin) Howard. Mrs. McGaughy was born in Knox County, III., October 17, 1841. Her grandfather Howard was of English descent. He married Mary Briggs, and late in life they came to Illinois, spending their remaining years in Gilman. Her father was a native of the Empire State, Dutchess County being the place of his birth, and there he grew to maturity. Her mother was born in Jefferson County, N. Y., and on her mother's side was of German descent. They were married in Perrysburg, Ohio, in 1834. Mrs. McGaughy's parents emigrated to Ohio and lived near Perrysburg, where her father followed his occupation of carpentering. Her mother was a member of the Methodist Church, and her father was a Whig and later a Republican. In 1836, they came to Illinois in wagons, coming by way of Chicago. At that early day the country was wild and Indians and game were plentiful. They first settled in Knox County, where Mr. Howard followed the occupations of farming and carpentering. In 1868, they removed to Iroquois County, where they lived until the death of Mrs. Howard in 1889, at the age of seventy-seven years. Mr. Howard still survives and lives in Onarga, at the age of eighty-years. Of their family of six children four are still living, one son and three daughters.
Mr. McGaughy, having improved eighty acres of land in La Salle County, where he first located on coming to Illinois, sold his possessions and came to Iroquois County in March, 1869. He purchased two hundred acres one and a-half miles southeast of Gilman, which he has finely improved and tiled. For over twenty years he made his home on his farm, and in 1891 moved to Gilman. Politically, his sympathies are with the Republican party. Mrs. McGaughy is a member of the Methodist Church, of which she is one of its earnest workers. To them were born three children: Estella, who died in 1871, at the age of seven years; Grace E., who resides at the home of her parents; and one little one who died in infancy. Mr. McGaughy has been a successful business man and is favorably known and much respected throughout this section.
JOHN FISCHER, who is engaged in general merchandising in Loda, was born in Ottersheim, Bavaria, Germany, on the 28th of April, 1835. His father, Mathias Fischer, was also a native of Bavaria. After attaining to mature years, he was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Reno, who was born in the same locality as her husband, and they became the parents of a family of six children, three sons and three daughters, as follows: John, Madeline, Frank, Frances, Mary and Mathias. In 1847 the father of this family bade good-bye to home and friends, and with his wife and two oldest children sailed from the Fatherland to America. Landing in New York, he there made his home for about fifteen months, after which he removed to Ulster County, N. Y., locating in the village of Rosendale, where he spent three years. He then went to Wellsville, Allegany County, where he remained until he left the Empire State to emigrate to Springfield, Ohio. The mother of our subject died in that city in 1865. The father survived her ten years, passing away in 1875.
The subject of this sketch, as above stated, accompanied his parents to the United States. At St. Mary's, Elk County, Pa., he was united in marriage on the 10th of September, 1860, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary A. Meyer, daughter of Joseph and Mary (Biehl) Meyer. Six children have been born unto them, and the family circle is still unbroken by the hand of Death. Joseph Matthew, the eldest, was born November 15, 1861; Frances, October 20, 1863; Mary Anna, April 22, 1865; Louisa, September 8, 1866; Elizabeth, November 8, 1868; and Katrina, September 17, 1870.
In 1864 Mr. Fischer removed with his family to this State, locating in Kankakee, but after a shout residence there he came to Loda, on the 28th of July, 1865, and has made his home continuously since in this place. For the past thirteen years he has engaged in general merchandising. He carries a full and complete stock of goods, and by his enterprise and industry, his courteous treatment and fair dealing, has worked up an excellent trade, and is now enjoying a liberal patronage. As a citizen, he is public-spirited and progressive, and manifests a commendable interest in all that pertains to the welfare of the community and its upbuilding. In politics he support the Democratic party by his ballot, but has never been an office-seeker. Himself and family are members of the Catholic Church. Those who know Mr. Fischer have for him a high regard, which he merits by the upright life he has lived.
BENTON BISHOPP, a well-known and leading business man in Sheldon, who is connected with the Bishopp Hominy Company, deserves representation in this volume, for he has long been identified with the history of the county, being numbered among its honored pioneers. He was born in Kent County, England, November 28, 1838, and is a son of Edward B. and Matilda Elizabeth Bishopp. His father was born in 1811 and in 1853 emigrated with his family to America. The year after his arrival in this country, he settled imi Iroquois County, where he spent the remainder of his life. His death occurred in February, 1883, and the community thereby lost one of its best citizens.
Our subject is the eldest of a family of nine children. The first fifteen years of his life were spent in the land of his birth, and he then crossed the briny deep with his parents. Since a lad of sixteen he has resided in this community and has witnessed almost the growth and development of the county. He has aided in the progress and advancement of the county's best interests. On the 4th of September, 1867, he led to the marriage altar Miss Martha A. Moore, daughter of John B. Moore, a native of Ohio. Unto them have been born eight children, and the family circle yet remains unbroken. All are still under the parental roof, namely: Edward Burton, Frank, Virginia Minerva, Henry B., John D., Arthur A., Martha and Benjamin. The eldest son is now one of the firm of the Bishopp Hominy Company.
For a number of years, Mr. Bishopp was engaged in the lumber business in Sheldon, but at length sold out and embarked in the grain trade, which he has since conducted. In 1891, he organized the Bishopp Hominy Company of Sheldon, which was established, and he is now manager. The company is doing a large business and enjoys an excellent trade.
The life of Mr. Bishop has been a busy one, yet he has found time to devote to public interests. In 1878, he was elected Supervisor of Sheldon Township and held the office until 1886. He has been a member of the Town Council for a number of years and was a member of the Board of Education from 1882 until 1890, doing effective service in the interests of the schools. In the year 1888, he was made President of the Building and Loan Association of Sheldon. In politics, he is thoroughly Republican and manifests considerable interest in political affairs. Mr. Bishop has been actively and successfully engaged in business since attaining to mars estate, and now, surrounded by a very pleasant and interesting family in a comfortable home, he lives in the full enjoyment of the reward of his life labors.
MATTHEW HOLZ, one of the extensive land-owners of the county, who now resides our section 12, Artesia Township is a native of Germany. He was born in Steimheim on the 11th of June, 1828, and is a son of George and Mary Holz. There were four children in this family, of whom the eldest, George, died in 1889. Matthew is the second in order of birth. Elizabeth is the wife of John Kelly and still resides in Germany. John is engaged in farming in Warren County, Ind.
Mr. Holz whose name heads this record was educated in the schools of his native land, which he attended until fourteen years of age. His father died when Matthew was a lad of eight summers. He learned the weaver's trade, and when about fifteen years of age left home to earn his own livelihood. He began work in a dye factory, where he was employed until he came to America in 1854. Having heard much of the advantages and privileges afforded young men in the New World, he decided to try his fortune in this county, and, bidding good-bye to the Fatherland, crossed the Atlantic in a sailing-vessel, which after a stormy passage of sixty-four days dropped anchor in the harbor of New York. Landing in that city, Mr. Holz at once went to Berks County, Pa., where he began work by the day, following any occupation whereby he might earn an honest dollar and thus provide for his own maintenance, for he was almost penniless when he reached America. He continued to reside in the Keystone State until 1856, when he emigrated Westward, locating in Warren County, Ind. He first worked by the month for a short time, but afterward rented land, upon which he resided until the spring of 1864, when he came to Illinois.
In the meantime, Mr. Holz was married. In 1859, he was joined in wedlock with Miss Caroline Knuar, who was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, in February, 1830. Six children have been born of this union, five sons and a daughters, as follows: John, Lewis, Jackson, William, Charles and Emma. The daughter is the wife of Robert McClave.
On coming to Illinois, Mr. Holz located in Iroquois County, renting a farm in Artesia Township. He rented one farm for eleven years and then purchased the same, having acquired the capital through his own industry, enterprise and perseverance. This tract consisted of one hundred and twenty-four acres on section 12, Artesia Township, and it has since been his home. He now carries on general farming and stock-raising and is numbered among the leading agriculturists of the county. As his financial resources have increased he has made additional purchases, until his landed possessions now aggregate between eight and nine hundred acres.
In his political affiliations, Mr. Holz is a Democrat, who warmly advocates the principles of his party. For nine years he has served as School Director and for the same period filled the office of School Trustee. In religious belief he is a Lutheran. We see in Mr. Holz a self-made man, and one who deserves great credit for his success in life. Starting out empty-handed, he has overcome the difficulties and obstacles in his path by an indomitable will and energy, and has steadily worked his way upward to a position of wealth and affluence.
MARK A. STANLEY was born on the site of the present city of Watseka, on the 23 d of November, 1848, and is a son of Micajah Stanley, deceased, an honored pioneer of Iroquois County, and the founder of Watseka. A sketch of this worthy gentleman is given on another page of this volume. Our subject was reared and educated in his native town, and aided his father in the management of the Stanley House. It was the first hotel of Watseka, and stood on the site of the present Williams House.
On the 25th of January, 1871, Mr. Stanley was united in marriage with Miss Jennie Edinger. The lady is a native of the Empire State, and is a daughter of Gideon and Lena Edinger. Their union was blessed with two children, a son and daughter, but Roy died at the age of nine months. Kittie is still with her parents.
For three years succeeding his marriage, Mr. Stanley was engaged in farming. He then abandoned that occupation and turned his attention to other pursuits. Embarking in the livery business, he has carried it on continuously since, and has been engaged in this line longer than any other livery man of Watseka. In politics, Mr. Stanley is a Democrat, but has never sought or desired public office. He is a member of Watseka Lodge No. 1086, K. of H., and his wife holds membership with the Methodist Episcopal Church. He has witnessed the entire growth of Watseka, and the greater part of the upbuilding of the county, and has ever borne his share in its development.
ANDREW TASCHER, who makes his home on a farm situated on section 2, Danforth Township, was born in Germany, in the Province of Baden, February 27, 1834. He is a son of Andrew and Kate (Ganshert) Tascher, both of whom were born in the same county. The father followed the occupation of farming, reared his family and spent his entire life in the Fatherland. Andrew Tascher, Jr., is the second in order of birth of a family of seven children, four sons and three daughters. The father was twice married and by his fist wife had a family of five children.
Our subject grew to manhood and received good common school advantages in Baden. He has almost entirely educated himself in English since coming to the United States. In 1852, he took passage in a sailing-vessel at Havre de Grace, France, and was forty days on the briny deep. He landed in New York on the 29th of August, 1852, and immediately started for the West, first locating in Missouri, about eighty miles south of St. Louis. There he remained until the spring of 1853, when he came to Peoria, Ill., and worked for a few months in the county.
In 1861, responsive to the call of his adopted country for volunteers, Mr. Tascher enlisted on the 6th of November, in Company F, Eleventh Illinois Cavalry. He entered the service for a term of three years, and received his discharge December 24, 1864, at Memphis, Tenn. He participated in the battles of Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing, and also in many engagements in which his regiment took part, including that of Lexington, Tenn., and a number of skirmishes. During the last year of his service he suffered much from disability and was obliged to be in the hospital for some time. After leaving the service he returned to Peoria, purchased a team, and engaged in teaming in that city until 1866.
In the spring of 1867, Mr. Tascher removed to Iroquois County and settled at Danforth, where he rented land and engaged in farming. At the end of a year he broke prairie land for the same length of time, after which he again rented land, which he operated for several years. In 1873 he bought eighty acres of but partially improved property, where he still resides. This by long years of patient labor he has developed into a valuable and desirable farm, on which he has erected a substantial house, barns and other outbuildings.
In Iroquois County, in July, 1873, Mr. Tascher led to the marriage altar Eliza Morti, who was born in Switzerland. She departed this life in Januamy, 1875, and in December of that year he married Miss Isabella F. Sims, a native of Virginia. She was born and reared to womanhood in Augusta County, and is a daughter of Miles and Martha (Blair) Sims. Her father was likewise born in the Old Dominion and is of French parentage, while his wife is of Scotch descent. Mrs. Tascher came with her mother to Iroquois County in 1868. Her mother died in Gilman, September 23, 1872, and her remains are interned in the Gilman Cemetery, where a stone marks her last resting-place. Mr. and Mrs. Tascher have no children of their own but have an adopted daughter, May B. Nichols Tascher, who was a daughter of William and Sarah Nichols, and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Norville, old pioneers of Gilman, Ill., both of English descent, and natives of Northern Virginia. In 1884, Mr. Tascher made a trip to Europe and visited the scenes and friends of his youth. He spent about two months in Baden and had a very enjoyable visit. The voyage on the Atlantic, in contrast to the forty days which it required when he first made the trip, took him less than ten days.
In his political affiliations, Mr. Tascher is a Republican and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Though much interested in political affairs and conventions, he has never asked for or accepted any official position. He has ever given his earnest support to the cause of education and public schools and has been a member of the School Board for years. He is a consistent member of the Evangelical Church. For over a quarter of a century he has been a resident of Iroquois County and has aided very materially in its advancement and welfare. He commenced life in this State a poor man and by his own labor and perseverance and the assistance of his wife has accumulated a valuable farm and now ranks as one of the thrifty and well-to-do farmers of this township. By his honorable course in life and his upright character he has won the high regard of his friends and neighbors.
CHRISTIAN MERKLE, a pioneer farmer and resident of this county for thirty years, resides on section 3, Danforth Township. He is a native of Germany, where his birth occurred the 21st of December, 1826. He is one of a family of five sons and three daughters, who grew to mature years. The eldest, Frank, still lives in, Germany, and resides on the old homestead; George has also remained in his native land, as has the next younger brother, Joseph; Christian, our subject; John, who emigrated to the United States, and settled in Peoria, where he died in 1888; Barbara; Philana; Catherina and Mary, who died when quite young.
Christian passed his boyhood days on a farm, engaged in the usual pursuits of farmer lads, and received a good education in the German language. He has been almost wholly self-educated in the English tongue since coming to this country. In compliance with the laws of Germany, he entered the army at the age of twenty-one, and there served for a period of three years. He participated in several small engagements of the rebellion of 1848, and distinguished himself by his bravery and fidelity. In 1854, he took passage in a steam-vessel at Liverpool, which was bound for America. He arrived in Philadelphia in May of that year, and at once went West, where for four months he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. He then went to Wabash, Ind., and worked on the railroad for about one month, after which he removed to St. Louis. From there he proceeded to Peoria, where he was employed in a brewery for three years, a part of which time was spent in learning the business. He next decided to turn his attention to farming, and accordingly engaged in agricultural pursuits for about one year.
In June, 1859, Mr. Merkle led to the marriage altar Helena Tascher, a native of Baden, Germany, who there spent her early years. She emigrated to the United States when about sixteen years of age, and lived with her brothers up to the time of her marriage. To our subject and his wife nine children have been born, eight of whom are still living: John makes his home in Kansas, where he has a fine farm; Louisa is the wife of Henry Stevens; Andrew resides at home; George, who received a good education, is a teacher in this county; Charles, who assists on the home farm; Christian, Emma Helena and Carrie are still at home.
After his marriage, Mr. Merkle took the contract for carrying the mail from Morton to Havana. He was awarded a five-year contract, and placed a stage-driver on the line, which was to be daily traversed for the allotted period of time. At the end of four years, the railroad being completed to Havana, he was obliged to give up the contract, and received for the unexpired time but one month's pay. In 1862, our subject removed to Iroquois County, and settled in Danforth Township, where the Village is now located. The following year he purchased a tract of eighty acres, where he now makes his home. This was unbroken prairie land, and of it he has made a valuable and well-improved property, which yields to him a golden tribute for his care and cultivation, he afterward purchased an adjoining farm of forty acres, thus making in all one hundred and twenty acres of property, which is considered among the best land in the county. On this he has built a substantial and pleasant residence, good barns and other farm buildings. He commenced his business career as a poor man, empty-handed, and has, by his own labor, enterprise and industry and by the assistance of his estimable wife, accumulated a fine estate and a good competence. In addition to his farm in this township, he also possesses one hundred and sixty acres of well-improved land in Ashkum Township.
In his political sentiments, Mr. Merkle is an advocate of the Democracy, his first vote having been cast for Stephen A. Douglas. He has ever given hearty support and earnest cooperation to all local and educational measures, and has served for some time as a School Director. For thirty years Mr. Merkle has been a resident of Iroquois County, and is well and favorably known throughout this section as a man in whom one can rely and place the fullest confidence. Among his chief characteristics are industry, enterprise and perseverance, which qualities have brought him success and prominence.
JAMES A. LAIRD, a retired farmer residing in Milford, is a native of Ohio. He was born on the 30th of May, 1830, in Guernsey County, and is one of a family of nine children, whose parents were Samuel and Delila (Albin) Baird, the former a native of Pennsylvania, and the latter of the Buckeye State. When a child, James removed with his father's family from Findlay, Ohio, to Ft. Wayne, Ind., where they resided for a few months, and then removed to a farm near La Fayette, and the old Tippecanoe battle-ground. The father afterward traded for a large tract of land in Milford Township, Iroquois County, Ill., and removed hither in 1855. Dividing this land with his children, he gave to each one hundred and sixty acres. He was a prominent and influential citizen of this community, and his death occurred in 1871, at the age of sixty-six years. His wife survived him a few years and passed away on the 25th of January, 1877, at the age of seventy-two years. Of their six sons and three daughters only two are now living: James, of this sketch, who was the third son; and Mary Jane, who was married in the autumn of 1855 to Louis Burgett, a farmer who resides about four miles southwest of Milford, and is represented elsewhere in this work.
When a lad of ten years, our subject removed to a farm, and in the usual manner of farmer lads, he was there reared to manhood. His education was acquired in the common schools. After attaining to years of maturity, be was united in marriage with Miss Permelia Long, daughter of William and Phoebe Long, of Ohio. By their union, which was celebrated March 4, 1852, ten children were born, of whom five are yet living; Marion W., born December 26, 1852, married Matilda Coats, on the 8th of March, 1873; Albert R., born February 7,1860, wedded Tena Hoskins; Clara, born January 1, 1854, became the wife of James C. Harrison February 24, 1876, and they now reside in Kansas; Phoebe was born August 20, 1858; Nora, born February 5, 1866, is the wife of William Smith, a resident of Peoria, Ill.
About three years after his marriage, Mr. Baird removed with his family to this county, where he has now made his home for thirty-seven years. Locating on the farm which his father gave him, he engaged in agricultural pursuits until October, 1878, when he came to Milford, where he has since lived a retired life although he has filled some public offices. During the first four years of his residence he he served as Deputy Postmaster. He was also Police Magistrate for eight years, and served as Coroner for four years. He discharged the duties of his position with promptness and fidelity, which fact insured his long-continued service, and won him the commendation of all concerned.
Mr. Baird, his wife and daughter Phoebe, are members of the Methodist Church, and his is active in several civic societies. He belongs to Milford Lodge No. 168, A. F. & A. M.; Watseka Chapter No. 114, R. A. M.; and Athelstan Commandery No. 45, K. T., of Danville. He also belongs to the Good Templars and the Royal Templars, both being organizations for the promotion of temperance principles. Mr. Laird is a friend to all social, educational and moral interests, and does all in his power to aid in the promotion of those enterprises calculated to prove of public benefit. He is a public-spirited and progressive man, and is recognized as one of the valued citizens of the community. He is now serving as Justice of the Peace and Notary Public, and is also doing business as a real-estate, insurance and collection agent.
CHARLES HICKMAN is one of the county's prominent citizens and leading agriculturists. He resides on section 33, Ash Grove Township, where he owns a fine and valuable farm of three hundred and sixty acres. He was born near Danville, Ill., but across the line in Indiana, May 20, 1845, when his parents were removing from Missouri to Indiana. His grandfather, John Hickman, spent his entire life in Maryland, where he followed the occupation of farming. He was also a soldier in the War of 1812.
Peter J. Hickman, the father of our subject, was born in Sussex, Del., March 14, 1808, and when fourteen year's of age was left an orphan. His father died some years before the mother, and he began working as a farm hand for $5 per month, giving the money for the support of his mother and the other children. His educational privileges were very meagre, but by experience and observation he became well informed. He was married in Delaware, Januamy 13, 1831, to Mary Gullett, a native of Kent County, Del, born February 8, 1814. In 1832 they emigrated Westward, landing in Fountain County, Ind., on the 6th of November. Mr. Hickman cleared a timbered farm in Warren County, and there resided until 1838. On his arrival he had only $125, and with this purchased eighty acres of land from the Government. In those early days he bore all the experiences and hardships of pioneer life. The river overflowed his farm, and he waded through the water to turn its course. His home was a log Cabin, and for some time it had only a dirt floor, but he afterwards put in a slab floor. At length he sold his farm for $1,000, and in 1838 went to Missouri, locating near Springfield. He there became well acquainted with the relatives of the notorious James boys, sitting several times on the jury with their uncle, who afterward became Associate Judge. Entering two hundred and eighty acres of land near Marshfield, he made his home upon that farm for about seven years
Selling his claim, Mr. Hickman started for Indiana in 1845, and in the Hoosier State he spent his remaining days, his death occurring November 12, 1891. His business career was a successful one, and he left to his children an estate of $80,000. His widow is still living in hem seventy-ninth year, and makes her home with her children. In politics, Mr. Hickman was a life-long Democrat. At the age of fourteen he united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was ever afterwards one of its faithful and consistent members. Honored and respected by all, he was one of Nature's noblemen, and left the world better for his having lived in it.
In the Hickman family were eleven children, and all grew to mature years. J. S. is now residing in Lovejoy Township; E. G. is one of the pioneer settlers of Ash Grove Township; Ann E. is the wife of L. B. Russell, of Ash Grove Township; Mrs. Eliza Wilson died in this county in September, 1874; J. W. died in Warren County, Ind., January 17, 1875; Mrs. Martha Smalley resides in Sheldon; Charles is the next younger; Peter J. is located in Red Willow County, Neb; Mrs. Sarah Smalley makes her home in Hoopeston, Vermillion County; William R. resides on the old homestead in Indiana; and Mary C. is the wife of Newton Little, cashier of the bank in Attica, Ind.
Charles Hickman, whose name heads this record, remained on his father's farm until seventeen years of age, when he came to Iroquois County, and for two years was engaged in herding cattle. His father owned a large tract of hand in this county. During the late war he enlisted in the Home Guards, and in 1867 entered the army, serving for three years and fourteen days in the Twenty-Second United States Infantry. For three months he was a scout on the Western frontier among the Blackfeet and Sioux Indians, and participated in some sharp engagements with the red men.
In 1870, Mr. Hickman returned to Indiana, and on the 6th of September of that year, in Warren County, was united in marriage with Miss Ann E. Smalley, a native of that county, born August 29, 1850, and a daughter of William and Sarah (Sarjent) Smalley. She was left an orphan at the age of seven months. In February, 1871, they came to Iroquois County, locating upon their present farm, which Mr. Hickman had purchased the preceding Januamy of Robert Chess, one of the early pioneers. He bought three hundred and twenty acres, and has one of the finest farms in this part of the State. His home is an elegant and commodious residence, the barns and outbuildings are models of convenience, and theme are many other excellent improvements, both useful and ornamental, which stand as monuments to the thrift and enterprise of the owner. The farm now comprises three hundred and sixty acres, and in addition to this Mr. Hickman operates another tract of two hundred and twenty acres he caries on general farming and stock-raising and has met with excellent success in his undertakings. Since 1871, he has resided upon this farm, with the exception of the year 1888, which he returned to Indiana to came for his father and mother.
Mr. and Mrs. Hickman
Unto our subject and his estimable wife were born seven children: Peter William died at the age of one year; Anna M. is the wife of S. A. Wise, of Ash Grove Township; Eliza J. is at home; James Elbert died at the age of eight months; Ella P. is the next younger; Charles N. died at the age of two years; and Opal, two years old, is the pet of the household.
Mr. Hickman is a progressive and public-spirited citizen, who manifests a commendable interest in all that pertains to the welfare of the community. While serving as Commissioner of Highways he helped to introduce the tiling and grading of roads by machines, which met with great opposition at the time, but has since grown into universal favor. A few enterprising men at their own expense had the work done, thus giving practical evidence of the benefit to be derived therefrom. Socially, he is a member of the Grand Army post of Cissna Park, and of a Masonic lodge in Warren County, Ind. He has frequently served as a delegate to the Grand Army encampments. His wife is a member of the Christian Church of Attica, Ind. He cast his first Presidential vote for Seymour, and has since been a supporter of the Democracy, but has never been a politician in the sense of office-seeking. Industry and enterprise are numbered among Mr. Hickman's chief characteristics, and through good management and good business ability he has steadily worked his way upward to a position of wealth and affluence. He has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances in this county, and none are held in higher regard.