"CHANEY PHINEAS, Retired Farmer; born in Harrison Co., West Virginia, June 23, 1814; moved to Bureau Co., Ill., May 14, 1836; after remaining there only about one month, he went to Galena; in February, 1837, he went to Green Co., Ohio, where he married Jane Berry March 9, 1837; he then went to Bureau Co. again, where he remained until March 1838, when he came to White Rock, Ogle Co.; in 1852 he moved to Marion Twp., where he lived until his removal to Oregon in 1874. He now owns about 800 acres; his farms being located principally in Marion, Oregon and Pine Rock Twps; Mr. C. was Justice of the Peace one term in White Rock, and one term in Marion; Mr. Chaney's children who are living are: Elizabeth Ann, now Mrs. Samuel Sheaff; Benjamin, Martha Jane, now Mrs. Hiram L. Woodburn; Phineas, Jr., and Samuel; eight children died in infancy; one daughter, Emma, died April 29, 1877, aged 21 years, ten months and fourteen days."
"History of Ogle Co., IL", by H. F. Kett & Co., Chicago, IL, 1878
Phineas Chaney, of Oregon, is an inseparable portion of the history of first things in Ogle County, where he located in 1838. He was born in Harrison Co., Va., June 14, 1814. His earliest recorded ancestor, Richard Chaney, his grandfather, was a native of Maryland, and was of mixed English descent. Samuel Chaney, son of Richard and father of Phineas, was born about 1787, in Georgetown, District of Columbia. He married Ann Davis, who was born in Maryland, about 1785. Richard Chaney died in Washington soon after the close of the War of the Revolution, and left his wife and five children. The oldest was only 12, and their means were small. She was a member of a family named Newcomer, and was born in the District of Columbia. Samuel Chaney was nine when his father died, and soon after that event the family went to Pennsylvania and located in Fayette County. He was bound out to a shoemaker in Uniontown, with whom he remained two years. He was unkindly treated and ran away, going to Virginia, where he obtained employment with a man named William Davis, a farmer. He made shoes and performed some light work on the farm. His wife was the only daughter of Mr. Davis, and their marriage was celebrated some years after he entered the service of the ladys father. The latter was born in New Jersey, and emigrated to Virginia after the War of the Revolution. After their marriage they located in the vicinity of the home of Mr. Davis, on a small farm which Mr. Chaney purchased there. In 1818 he entered into a contract with the Government of the United States to carry the mail from Clarksburg, Va., to Marietta, Ohio, a distance of 89 miles. The work was accomplished on horseback, he making two trips a week. Later he entered into other contracts on other routes, and at the time of his death was operating on five different lines. His demise occurred in August, 1827. His wife survived until February, 1851. They were the parents of 12 children, of whom 11 lived to the years of maturity.
Phineas Chaney was 13 when his father died. He had been taught the ins and outs of the life of a mail-carrier, by his father, and he continued in that business about 18 months after that event. He was a plucky boy, and the novelty of the trips through the forests and wilds of the Allegheny region attracted him before he was 10 years of age. His route lay between his home and Clarksburg, a distance of 23 miles. After he quitted the employment of a mail-carrier he worked on the farm of his Grandfather Davis until 1830. In that year his mother, with her younger children and her parents, went to the State of Ohio and settled in Clarke County, and the mother was again married after a short time.
Mr. Chaney obtained employ with a farmer at $8 a month. He remained in the Buckeye State and operated as a farm assistant until 1836, when he came to Illinois. He reached Hennepin, on the Illinois River, by the water route from Cincinnati. This included the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. From Hennepin he went to Bureau County, where his mother was living, and remained a month. He went thence to Galena, where he had an uncle who was extensively interested in lead-smelting, and was the owner of three furnaces. Mr. Chaney entered his service and took charge of the buying of supplies and shipments of lead. He continued in that business a few months, and in February, 1837, bought an Indian pony and set out for a trip on horseback to Ohio. He had an attraction there which drew him like the magnet, and in accordance with his purpose he was married in Greene County, to Miss Jane Berry. Their union in marriage took place March 9, 1837. The wife was born in April, 1820, in Jefferson Co., Va.
Mr. Chaney bought a pair of horses and a covered carriage and, four days after his marriage, set out with his wife for Illinois. They located on a farm in the vicinity of Princeton, Bureau County. During his first visit to Bureau, to which reference has been made, he had entered a claim of 280 acres of land, but on his return and examination of the property he was not pleased with it, and relinquished his title. He exchanged it for a claim in Ogle County, situated in Township 23, Range 11, now White Rock Township. In March, 1838, Mr. and Mrs. Chaney removed to this farm. Mr. Chaney secured his title to the claim when the land came into market in 1842. He built a log-cabin and was the occupant of the place until the following year, when he gave it to his brother and removed to Scott Township and bought land on section 31, and also another tract in the vicinity. Mr. Chaney built a hewed log-house, and was its occupant, with his family, 14 years. In the meantime he erected a good frame house and barn. In 1857 the household made another transfer of their interests to the township of Marion, where a location was made on the north half of section 27. There Mr. Chaney built a good brick residence, and lived there until their removal to Oregon. Mr. Chaney is still the owner of the farm, with the exception of 80 acres.
To him and his wife five children have been born. Elizabeth is the wife of Simon Sheaff, and they are living in Marion Township. Benjamin resides in Oregon. Martha J. is married to Leslie Woodburn, and they are residents of Minneapolis. Emma is deceased. Phineas lives in the city of Brooklyn, N.Y. Samuel is the name of the youngest of the family.
The period in the history of Ogle County of which Mr. Chaney forms a central figure, is one that has a wider field of interest than this locality. It includes the whole portion of Illinois within the radius which was prescribed by the class that kept the community in a state of terror for years, and who are still designated "Prairie Pirates." The name of Driscoll will never excite a feeling of complacency in the hearts of the descendants of those who passed through the times when that fraternity held their sway of malice and revenge in this part of Northern Illinois. The "Regulators," in their adjustment of the condition of things brought about by the gang represented by the name of Driscoll, acquired a notoriety that will be no less permanent, though of quite a different odor, than that of the lawless depredators that made existence a burden to every man, woman and child in Ogle and other counties in the vicinity. Mr. Chaney was prominent in connection with the vigilance committee who took into their own hands the cause of the distress and terror, and put a termination to their reign. He was the object of the special venom of the Driscolls and their band of renegades. He believed that only their own style of operation would be effective, and he advocated the administration of the only sort of justice which they seemed capable of comprehending. He and a man named Campbell were especially prominent in their opposition to any tame methods of settling their cases, and the two were marked for death. Mr. Chaney escaped by the merest chance, but Mr. Campbell was brutally murdered. He fell under the assassins bullet, almost at his own door, and the shrill scream of his wife roused the neighborhood. That was the drop that caused the overflow of the bucket. The indignant and long-suffering population made immediate preparations to avenge the cowardly murder of an orderly, peaceable citizen. June 29, 1841, two days after the murder of Mr. Campbell, two Driscolls, father and son, met their doom at the hands of their self-appointed and righteous executioners. There was a form of trialimpromptu and briefin which the jury consisted of 111 men, among whom there was but a single opinion. That opinion culminated in the division of their number into two squads. Fifty-six bullets in the body of the elder Driscoll made partial atonement for that which had taken the life of an inoffensive citizen. The remainder55 in numbermade the reparation complete so far as the vengeance of man was concerned. Phineas Chaney
was one of the jury. At this writing he is an old man, nearing the boundaries of that world where all these mysteries will meet their adjustment, and he reverts to that time only with sadness. He says, "If anybody thinks there was anything pleasant, either in what was done that day, or in the recollection of it, he is a greatly mistaken individual. All that I can say at this timemore than 40 years lateris that I am sorry for the existence of such a terrible necessity, but if it was to be done again I could act no different." He was one of six men who volunteered to watch the movements of the families of the Driscolls after the summary rendering of the judgment of the exasperated citizens of the county, and they passed the succeeding night in their vigils. They called at the house of the younger Driscoll, and his wife was defiant and desperate, until they convinced her that persistence in her threats of violence would prove fatal. The full account of that period appears in another department of this work.
Mr. Chaney is a born and bred pioneer. His birth and training in the wilds of the Allegheny region were calculated to foster self-reliance and the propensity to adjust the difference between himself and the rest of humanity. His leading characteristic is a pluck that answers at once to any demand. With the discipline that culture gives, and the associations of a different grade of society from that in which he grew to manhood, he would have made himself conspicuous in life. He is the possessor of wonderful native gifts. His power of observation and his keenness of discernment are far beyond the ordinary, and would have made him distinguished in another sphere. He has the command of the language of a scholar, and a quality of judgment that leads him unerringly to a wise conclusion in an emergency. He is literally fearless, and when he has right and justice on his side, possesses an intuitive knowledge of the sure means of accomplishing a purpose. In politics he is a Democrat.
"Ogle Co. Portrait and Biographical Album" by Chapman Bros., Chicago, IL, 1886, page 522-524
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