ELLISON BRALEY. The gentleman whose portrait is presented on the opposite page is one of the most extensive farmers and land owners in the county, and is numbered among the oldest citizens now residing in Carlinville. He is widely known and honored for his integrity of character and good citizenship. He comes of good old New England stock and is himself a native of that section of the country, Hopkinton, Middlesex County, Mass., his place of birth and July 26, 1810, the date thereof.
His father, whose given name was Ezekiel, was born in Rhode Island in 1782 and was a son of Roger Braley, who was a native of Massachusetts and the descendant of an old Huguenot family that came to America in 1700 to escape religious persecution in their native land, and settled in Massachusetts buying large tracts of land from the Indians, the deed of the same reading, "in consideration of two smokes of the pipe and one drink of cider." A part of the land was afterward the home of Daniel Webster. The first ancestor to come to this country spelled his name Brales. He reared four sons, who were named Ezekiel, Rauel, John and Roger.
The grandfather of our subject left his early home in the old Bay State and made a new one for himself in Rhode Island, where he lived until death closed his mortal career. He married Ruth Cole, who after his death became the wife of a man by the name of Bosworth, spending her last years in Massachusetts. The father of our subject lived in his native state until he attained manhood and early learned the trade of a shoemaker. When a young man he went to Massachusetts and was employed on a farm by Capt. Rockwood in that part of the town of Upton now included in Hopkinton. He subsequently bought a small tract of land five miles south of that town, and resided thereon some years, farming in summer and making shoes in the winter. In 1826 he removed to Holliston, where he lived until 1840. His next move was to Westboro, where his earthly pilgrimage was brought to an end and he was gathered to his fathers at a ripe old age.
He and his good wife reared a family of nine children, of whom the following is noted: Elliott, who came to Illinois in 1857, died at Carlinville in his eighty-third year; Ellison is the subject of this sketch; Philander came to this State in 1836, and after living in Madison County fifteen years, has ever since been a resident of Carlinville; Louisa married Charles Morgan and resides at Carlinville; Harriet married Nelson Cole and lives at Piasa this county; Benjamin is a resident of Westboro, Mass.; George R. lives near Dexter, Mo.; Gibbs, the eldest son of the family, died in 1881, at the age of seventy-five; Esther, the youngest daughter, died in 1886 at the age of fifty-seven years.
The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Lois Walker and she was born in 1783 in Hopkinton, Mass. Her father, Timothy Walker, was also a native of Massachusetts and was a son of Israel and Abigail Walker. He was a soldier in both the Revolution and the War of 1812. His entire life was passed in his native State, where he carried on the occupation of a farmer and hunter. He married Lois Gibbs, a native of Hopkinton and a daughter of Isaac and Lois Gibbs. The mother of our subject departed this life in her native town.
Ellison Braley left the parental home at the age of twelve years and went to live with Charles Valentine in Hopkinton, with whom he remained until he was fifteen years old. He then accompanied Mr. Valentine to Boston, where the latter formed a partnership with Mr. Bridges to carry on the business of wholesale provision merchants. Our subject continued in their employ in the Boylston Market six years and then in 1832 went to New York in the interests of Mr. Bridges, and assisted him there until 1838. In the fall of that year he started Westward with another young man, driving to Western Pennsylvania with a horse and wagon, then traveling by stage by the way of Pittsburg and Wheeling to Cincinnati; there they embarked on a steamboat and proceeded to Madison, Ind., where Mr. Braley worked for a time for a New York firm. the following spring he made his way to Illinois, traveling on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to St. Louis and from that city by a two-horse wagon to Carlinville, where he arrived the 1st of April. He rented land, on which he raised a crop of corn and in the fall formed a partnership with a tanner. Five years later he sold out his interest in the tannery and bought a country store, which he managed a year and a half, and later bought a grist mill at Collins Mill. The next venture was to buy a steam flour mill at East St. Louis, which he operated a few months and then sold advantageously.
Soon after that Mr. Braley bought a steam sawmill on Macoupin Creek, a mile and a half from Carlinville, his brother being interested with him in the purchase. They refitted the mill, putting in new machinery and repairing the boilers, and worked the concern very profitably until it was burned a year later. The brothers then came to Carlinville and erected a steam saw mill and were engaged in the manufacture of lumber until 1864, when they sold their mill. During that time the Chicago & Alton Railroad was in process of construction and they had the contract to furnish the joint ties for the road, which was completed from Alton to Carlinville in July, 1852. That fall they took the contract to furnish ties and lumber to be used in the construction of the road between Springfield and Bloomington. After disposing of the mill our subject turned his attention to farming and became one of the most extensive and successful farmers in this region. He now owns eight hundred and sixty acres of choice land, all lying in this county and conveniently divided into different farm, which are under good tillage and amply supplied with a good class of farm buildings.
Mr. Braley was married in the city of New York November 1, 1840, to Miss Catherine Coon, a native of Rensselaer County, N.Y., and to her devotion to his interests is undoubtedly attributable a good share of his prosperity. They have six children: George, a resident of Virden; Sarah, living in California; Eleanora, the widow of General Rowett, of whom see biography on another page of this volume; Catherine, Paul and Cyrus F., the latter three living with their parents.
Through a long and busy life that has passed the eightieth milestone on the journey to immortality, our subject has shown himself to possess in an eminent degree those dominant characteristics of the genuine sons of New England that have made them such potent factors in the upbuilding of any community wherever their lot may be cat. His capability and keen insight into the best methods of managing his financial interests, together with his plain and straightforward dealings, have placed him among the moneyed men of the county. He and his wife stand high in social and religious circles and are among the most esteemed members of the Presbyterian Church. Formerly a Whig, Mr. Braley has been a tried and true Republican since the formation of the party.