DENBY, THOMAS , for more than sixty years a worthy and highly esteemed citizen residing in the vicinity of Jacksonville, Ill., was born in Yorkshire, England, July 17, 1823, the son of Thomas and Ellen (Conder) Denby, natives of that country, the former being born in Lincolnshire. They had five children, namely: Hannah, who married Edward Lambert; Elizabeth, who was the wife of John Scott; Mary, who died in infancy; Ellen, deceased; and Thomas, who is the only living member of the family. Thomas Denby, Sr., came with his family to the United States in 1832. They left Liverpool, April 3d of that year, and reached New York the following August, the vessel having been disabled during the voyage by rough weather, and compelled to put into the Madeira Islands for repairs. On arriving at New York the family went to Buffalo, and thence-via the Erie Canal, river and team-to Jacksonville. Soon afterward Mr. Denby purchased a farm of 200 acres at $12 per acre. Upon it were a double log house and log stable, and about 50 acres of the tract were cleared. Here the elder Denby lived until 1849, when he departed on a visit to England, dying on the ocean at the age of fifty-five years. The deceased was a man of practical ability, having assisted in laying out the roads, organizing the schools, etc. His widow passed away a few months after his demise.
Thomas Denby was ten years old when he came to Morgan County. In early youth he attended the subscription school in the log house, near his home, supplied with slab benches and puncheon floor, but obtained most of his mental instruction outside of the school room. Mr. Denby has lived on his present farm since 1832, renting the place of his father, in 1845, and afterward purchasing the interests of the other heirs. The fine residence which he occupies was built, in 1857, from brick burnt on the premises, and all the excellent improvements on the farm were made by him. He is now the owner of 200 acres of land, situated four and one-half miles west of Jacksonville, where he has carried on general farming and raised choice Poland-China hogs.
Mr. Denby was first married in 1845, to Martha Sparks, who passed away in March, 1846, leaving one child, who died when three years of age. In December, 1846, Mr. Denby was united in marriage to Mary J. Wells, who was born in Scott County, Ill., in 1822, a daughter of Alexander and Mary (Chance) Wells-both natives of Pennsylvania. Mr. Wells came to Scott County, Ill., in 1818. He was a famous hunter, and killed the last bear and panther known to this section of the country. He died at Mr. Denby's residence at the venerable age of ninety-six years, having served as a Captain in the War of 1812 and a soldier of the Black Hawk War and being deservedly a pensioner of the Government. Mr. Wells was well educated, for his time, and was successful in all his undertakings. Finally, he had the honor of building the first log schoolhouse in Scott County. Mr. and Mrs. Denby are the parents of five children, namely: William Thomas, who died at the age of five years; Mary E., wife of George B. Ransom, who lives near Lynnville, Ill.; Sarah E., who married George Killiam, and died in 1884; Hannah, wife of Thomas O. Graves, who lives in the vicinity of Jacksonville, and Anella, wife of J. W. Leach, who lives west of the city.
Politically, Mr. Denby is a Democrat, and has held a number of township offices. Religiously, he and his wife are members of the Methodist Church. His life has been distinguished by all those qualities that characterize the successful pioneer-honesty, industry, patience, perseverance and firm resolution.