HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ILLINOIS
& HISTORY OF MORGAN COUNTY
Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1906.




OSBORNE, ROBERT TILTON, (deceased), pioneer farmer and stock-dealer of Morgan County, Ill., was born on a farm near Lexington, Ky., September 1, 1827, the son of Harrison and Eliza (Cassell) Osborne, both of whom were natives of the same state. His father, who was a minister of the Christian Church, devoted his life to the ministry and to farming. In 1829 or 1830 he disposed of his possessions in Kentucky and removed with his family to Illinois, settling in Morgan County. Soon after locating in Jacksonville he engaged in the dry-goods business with Col. George M. Chambers. He afterward purchased a farm at Antioch in the eastern part of the county, where the remainder of his active life was spent. For several years he preached in the Christian church at Antioch, and frequently filled pulpits in other sections. After rearing his family, he sold his farm and retired, spending his declining days with his children, his death occurring June 3, 1883. Though he took a deep interest in the advancement of the public welfare, he never sought political office. For many years he was a member of the Masonic fraternity. To Harrison Osborne and wife were born five children, named as follows in the order of their birth: David, Robert T. (subject of this sketch)), John T., Barton, and Ann Eliza who married Henry Babb. All are deceased. Barton, the youngest son, served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and participated in several battles. Harrison Osborne became widely known personally throughout Morgan County and the contiguous territory, and during the early days of his ministry was frequently called upon to officiate at marriages and at the funerals of pioneer settlers and members of their families. He was a man who, by his fine character and generous heart, endeared himself closely to a multitude of people, and during the last years of his long and highly useful life was highly honored and venerated. He was a striking figure in the earlier days of the county's history, and his strength of character endured with the passage of years to a remarkable degree. His family maintained a high position in the confidence and esteem of the inhabitants of Morgan County, in which they were regarded as representatives of its best citizenship.

Robert T. Osborne received his education in the schools of Jacksonville. After the completion of his education he returned to his father's farm, where he assisted in its management until his marriage, October 14, 1847, to Elizabeth J. Dewees, who was born January 26, 1830, the daughter of Nimrod and Elizabeth (Murphy) Dewees, early settlers of Morgan County. (An extended sketch of the Dewees family will be found elsewhere in this volume.) About this time Rev. Harrison Osborne removed to Jacksonville, and rented his farm to his son, Robert T., who began its operation independently. In 1850 he removed to a farm located on the Springfield road, on which was a small log cabin, and there he remained about six years. This farm consisted of unbroken prairie land, to the development of which Mr. Osborne set about with vigor. After six years of hard labor on this property he sold the land and purchased his father's farm, to the cultivation of which he devoted twelve years. He then sold the latter property and removed to Jacksonville, where the balance of his life was spent. He erected the block now occupied by the firm of Phelps & Osborne, one of the finest business blocks in the city, and for about six years engaged in buying and shipping cattle. His operations in this direction were successful, and upon his retirement from active business he possessed a handsome competency. For several years prior to his death, which occurred September 10, 1887, he lived quietly, enjoying the means which he had accumulated, and assisting those near and dear to him in their efforts to win success in the world of business. Early in life he united with the Christian Church at Antioch, of which his wife was also a member, and after his permanent removal to Jacksonville transferred his membership to the local organization. In politics he was a Democrat, but was extremely liberal in his views. During the Civil War he espoused the cause of the Union, and contributed generously of his means toward the support of the Federal troops in the field. He never desired public office, preferring to devote his energies to his private affairs, though he never shirked his duties as a citizen. Fraternally, he was identified for many years with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was a broad minded, public spirited, liberal man, a citizen whom the people of Morgan County delighted to honor and in whom all had the greatest confidence.

To Mr. and Mrs. Osborne were born nine children, two of whom died in childhood. Those who attained maturity are still living. They are as follows: Almira, wife of Charles C. Phelps, of Jacksonville; Samuel D., also of Jacksonville; Georgia L., an attache of the State Historical Library at Springfield; Jessie, wife of Jesse Metcalfe, a banker of Girard, Ill.; Robert T.; William C.; and Elizabeth D., wife of Frank L. Best, of Jacksonville.


1906 Index

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