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August 8, 2006 - New Surnames Added

July 16, 2006 - New Biography Added

July 16, 2006 - Surname Page Updated

June 21, 2006 - 1 New Obituary Added

June 2, 2006 - 1 New Obituary Added

May 25, 2006 - 2 New Obituaries Added

May 25, 2006 - 1 New Photo Added

March 31, 2006 - 3 New Obituaries Added

March 31 2006 - 2 New Surnames Added

March 5, 2006 - New Link Added

January 24, 2006-Link to McLean County Genealogical Society Added

January 13, 2006-Website Design and Organization Updates

Past Updates


D. F. Thompson; 1850-1923

With sorrow we announce the untimely death of one of our life members of The Illinois Horticultural Society, D. F. Thompson of Kent, Stephenson County, Illinois.

He was born in Franklin county Pennsylvania, December 23, 1850, and died at his home March 5, 1923, with an attack of mastoids, which in a few days ended a brilliant and useful life.

Mr. Thompson received his early education in the rural schools, receiving his higher education in Poughkeepsie College, Poughkeepsie, New York. Teaching for a short period in his home county, he turned westward for his future to satisfy his young and eager ambitions in a broader field for work and came to Illinois in the year 1871, where he taught school a few terms at which time he married Fianna, daughter of David and Sarah Rudy Erwin, May 19, 1873.

Shortly after his marriage he purchased the old homestead which was his wife's birth place and home, which they builded into a modern up-to-date home and a recognized productive farm.

Horticulture was his great liking; his friends termed it his hobby; he saw the profits and pleasure in fruit growning combined with farming which he planted and cultivated up to his death.

It was his pleasure and delight to direct a visitor thru his orchard pointing out the different varieties of fruit, discussing the character and strong points, and the weak varieties which were subject to the unfavorable climatic and soil conditions.

He was considered an authority on fruit growing, propagation and cultivation, an influential citizen held in high esteem and respect by his friends and associates.

Mr. Thompson's memory will be cherished by his many friends for the good work and service he did while living to those who may gain and profit by his undertakings and achievements, a monument which time and age will not impair.

This obituary was taken from Transaction of the Illinois State Horticultural Society for the Year 1923; Vol LVII; P. 252

This is not my relative; I just happened to have the book.

Submitted by: Lynn House 06 Feb 1999

Samantha J Arledge-Van Matre


Mrs. Joseph Van Matre died age 75 years, Monday June 3, 1918 at the home of her son, L. D. Van Matre, near Oneco. Last winter she fell and broke her hip and since then has been in frail health.

She is survived by three sons, Fred, Clinton and L. D. Van Matre and one daughter, Mrs. Edward Sanders, all living near Oneco.

Funeral service held at Mt. Pleasant School house west of Orangeville. Burial in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

"Freeport Journal Standard" - June 5, 1918 page 8 column 2

sister of David Patterson Arledge

Submitted by: Cynthia Gould 19 Nov 2001

Joseph W Van Matre


Oldest Settler of Oneco Township dies at Rockford Hospital

Joseph W. Van Matre, the oldest settler of the town of Oneco, died Sunday evening at the Rockford sanitarium, following an illness of several weeks. For some years past the deceased had been treasurer of the Schuman Piano company of Rockford and for that reason made his home there the greater part of the time. The remains will be taken to Orangeville this evening.

Mr. Van Matre is one of the well known family of that name who are pioneer settlers in Stephenson county. He was the son of L. D. Van Matre, and was born Oct. 8, 1838, in Oneco township. He resided with his parents until he was twenty years of age, helping to till the farm and attending the district school. In the spring of 1859, carried away by the spirit of restlessness, he started for Pikes Peak, but only reached Fort Des Moines, Iowa. Remaining there for a while he returned to his state and worked by the day until the spring of 1860. He then entered the store of Squire Hartsough, of Orangeville, where he was employed as a merchant's clerk for one year.

After severing his connection with Mr. Hartsough he farmed for one year on his father's place and then moved to the property across the road which he rented and farmed until the spring of 1865. During this year he enlisted in the 46th Illinois but the war was at an end and he returned home. Later he purchased a half interest in the farm and a few years later purchased the remainder.

He was married, October 8, 1858 to Sarah Williams, daughter of George Williams, a native of New York state. This lady died in the second year of her marriage, shortly after the birth of her son, George W. Mr Van Matre was married the second time in 1860 to Samantha J. Arledge, daughter of William Arledge, a native of Ohio.

The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Van Matre are: Dora B., who became Mrs. Bowen; Lewis D., Thomas J., who died in 1887, Emma R., Fred N. and Joseph C.

Arrangements for the funeral have not been made, but will probably be held Wednesday at Orangeville.

Freeport Daily Journal, Monday - May 3, 1909 - Page 1 Column 4

This is my husband's great-granduncle, Joseph W. Van Matre.

Submitted by: Cynthia Gould on Mon, 19 Nov. 2001

George Wilhelm and Moses Fry


Recklessly Sail Small Launch under Dam and It Fills with Water.


George Wilhelm and Moses Fry Pay Penalty of Foolhardiness

Latter Well-to-Do

Monday's Daily

George Wilhelm, aged 35, and Moses Fry, aged 52, both Freeporters, were drowned in the Pecatonica river shortly after 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon when the sixteen foot gasoline launch in which they were riding filled with water a short distance below the Freeport Railway Light Co.'s dam and capsized.

The treacherous river annually exacts a number of lives and the men drowned yesterday were the first of the year to make up the regular quota. Art Quincer had left the launch ten minutes before it sank, being landed at the Stephenson street bridge. He claims that Wilhelm and Fry were reckless in handling the boat and left for this reason. Others claim he landed to purchase a case of beer and was to have been taken aboard when he had made the purchase.

Men Were Overdaring

Eye witnesses to the disaster say the launch aproached (sic) the dam near the east bank of the river and had about half completed the run when the turbulent water rushed over the sides of the frail craft, filling it in an instant. Neither of the men could swim and after being buffeted about for a second sank. Those along the bank did not see them come up the second or third time and it is possible that both men became entangled in the ropes of the launch and were carried down with the boat.

Rumor has it that the same part made a similar trip Saturday to the dam, but succeeded in making the turn without mishap. Quincer says he was with them that night and left the boat because he did not care to experience another such thrill.

All three men, so it is said, had been spending the afternoon down the river and had returned to the city to purchase beer. They were not intoxicated, however, but had been drinking.

The boat in which they were riding has seen several years service and was perhaps the smallest craft in use below the dam. A club of man, which included those drowned, owned the boat.

Drag River for Bodies

Report of the double drowning quickly spread and before dusk several thousand people visited the scene of the fatality. Grappling hooks were secured and men in boats started in a search for the bodies. This was kept up until after dark, without success.

The river at this point runs in a mad stream, the water foaming and churning for a distance of more than thirty feet from the dam. Naturally there is a swift undercurrent and it is the general belief that the bodies were carried rapidly away from the point where they went down.

Children Made Orphans

In the death of George Wilhelm, four children are made orphans. Wilhelm's wife succumbed to typhoid fever a year ago. Three of the children are being cared for by Shannon friends, while the fourth is an inmate of St. Vincent's orphanage.

Wilhelm has been employed the shipping department of Stover's plant on Henderson Street. He has made his home in the Arcade addition.

But little is know of Fry. According to report he came to Freeport more than a year ago and has been variously employed during his residence here.

Wilhelm's Body Recovered

Search for the bodies was resumed at daylight and at 9:20 o'clock Jack Soliday and John Eberle, using a grappling hook pulled Wilhelm's body to the surface at a point about 150 feet east of the dam and thirty feet from the south shore. The body was recovered in between 18 and 20 feet of water.

Soliday and Eberle are of the opinion that Fry's body is under the nine foot apron of the dam. They believe that Wilhelm's body struck one of the power plant water wheels, as there are bruises on the body.

Wilhelm was born at Shannon and is a son of Herman Wilhelm. He came to Freeport three years ago. In addition to his children he is survived by a brother Fred of Shannon.

Fry Quite Well-to-do

Moses Fry was born at Chambers Grove, Ogle county, and came to Freeport about ten years ago. Since that time he has resided both here and elsewhere and came to Freeport the last time about a year ago. He is a retired farmer and is said to be quite well-to-do. It is reported that he has considerable money out at interest.

Three brothers and four sisters survive him. They are Jacob of Shannon, Samuel of Kansas, George of Iowa, Mrs. George Diehl of Lanark, Mrs. Shrimer of Lanark, Mrs. Henry Rahn and Mrs. Sarah Wolf, both of Freeport.

Will Continue Search

Four searching parties were dragging the river this morning for Fry's body, which is believed to be near the launch and under the apron of the dam. Weights will be thrown from the dam in an attempt to recover the body.

Wilhelm's remains were taken to Tempel's morgue and an inquest will be held today.

Both Men Carried Money

It is reported that Fry carried a large sum of money in his pocket yesterday. Relatives say that he was reluctant to place money in banks and frequently carried several thousand dollars in his pocket. Saturday night Fry was dickering for the purchase of land and at that time said he did not have $500 in his pocket. It is generally believed that he carried at least $250 with him yesterday.

After being taken to the morgue, Wilhelm's clothing was searched and a pocketbook containing $13.41 and a handkerchief was found.

Wilhelm's body will be shipped to Shannon for burial early tomorrow, short funeral services to be held in Freeport at Moore's morgue.

Clipped article from Matie Brinkmeier-Sturtevant's collection. Approximate date of 1914

Submitted by: Julie Sturtevant-Wirgau 6 Apr 1998

Lester B. White

WARREN - Lester B. White, World War I veteran died at Freeport Memorial Hosiptal Sunday, after a short illness.

He was born July 3, 1894, in Warren, son of Fred and Ida (Backus) White. On June 30, 1923, he married Julia Pierce. Surviving are his widow, one son, John, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; one brother Roy of Warren; and three grandchildren. Mr. White was a member of the Warren American Legion.

Funeral arrangements are pending at the Bartell Funeral Home, Warren.

Newsclippings saved by my grandmother; Julia (Peirce) White, who lived in Warren at the time of her death. Possibly these obits are from the Freeport and/or Rockford papers.

Handwritten note states that date of death was noon, Sunday, May 14, 1967.

Submitted by: Nancy A. White 19 June 2001

H. J. Whitman


H. J. Whitman departed yesterday afternoon for the south, and will spend the winter on the Gulf in hopes of bettering his health. Mrs. Whitman accompanied him as far as Lena, Ill., where will visit a few days.

Darlington Democrat (LaFayette County WI) 3 January 1884 Thursday Volume 19 Number 14

Submitted by: Katherine Hebenstreit 7 Nov 2001

Orr Wilsey


Orr Wilsey, of Lena, Ill., was in town a day or two last week, seeking an opportunity to ride the goat.

Darlington Democrat (LaFayette County WI) 28 February 1884 Thursday Volume 19 Number 22

Submitted by: Katherine Hebenstreit 7 Nov 2001

Sadie Wolf

Local Personals

Miss Sadie Wolf, of Freeport, will arrive in our city next Friday, on a visit to Mrs. C. A. Blanchard.

Darlington Democrat (LaFayette County WI) 6 August 1885 Thursday Volume 20 Number 45

Submitted by: Lady KK on Sun, 11 Nov 2001

Mrs. Barbara S. Yeager

Mrs. Barbara S. YEAGER, 66, wife of Wesley J. YEAGER, died suddenly Friday morning at her home in Lena. Mrs. YEAGER, formerly Miss Barbara S. NUSS, was born in West Point Township on March 20, 1877, to Mr. and Mrs. J. Mahlon NUSS. She was married on March 20, 1918 at Polo. Survivors include sisters Mrs. Leanna BYERS and Mrs. Frank OHLWINE of Polo, a brother John NUSS of Brush, Colorado.

She was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters and two brothers. Services were held at Lena Amity Lutheran Church. Burial was in Lena Burial Park.

Lena, Ill., Jan. 22, 1944

Submitted by: Sharon Nuss Custer 06 Feb 1999

Almira V. Young

Miss Almira V. Young, who has been afflicted the past ten or twelve weeks with yellow jaundice died this morning at 8 o'clock at the home of her parents Mr. and Mrs. Robert Young in the arcade addition. She had been living at Winslow for the past 4 or 5 years, returning to Freeport four weeks ago last Tuesday. Miss Young was born July 25, 1866 on a farm 11/2 miles northwest of the village of Dakota. She was a member of the Methodist Church and was regarded as an earnest and constant Christian. In 1895 the family came to Freeport. The parents, one brother and 3 sisters survive. W.W. Young, Margaret and Sarah Young of Freeport and Mrs. Ardell Harrison of Winslow.

The funeral will be held Saturday afternoon at one o'clock from the family residence in the Arcade Addition.Rev. Mr. Collins will officiate. Burial will be at Cedarville, Illinois.

Obituary from a Freeport, Illinois newspaper, 16 June, 1904

Submitted by: Randy Campbell 17 Jan 2000

Mrs. Cora M. Young

Services for Mrs. Cora Mable Young, 79, who died Wednesday night, March 16, in the home of her son, Robert Young, 4001 West State Street, were conducted Monday in the McAllister-Julian-Poorman funeral home, 304 North 5th Street. The Rev. George Ford officiated. Burial was in Willwood Cemetery.

Mrs. Young was born April 21, 1869 at Shannon and was the wife of W.W. Young of Freeport who died in 1915.

In addition to the son in whose home she lived Mrs. Young is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Viola Borger, Cedarville; and Mrs. Alice Sullivan, Wenatchee, Wash.; two sisters, Mrs. Annie Alberts and Mrs. Kate Welker, both of Rockford; and six grandchildren.

{Portion missing from copy} ry, The Rev. Edward Henninger, pastor of Embury Church, will officiate.

[Corrections: Cora Young was born in 1870, was 78 years old, and died on 17 March, 1949.]

Source: The West Suburban News, Rockford, Illinois, April 1949, P.3.


Mrs. Alice Sullivan, sister of Bob Young, 3968 W. State St., arrived here Sunday morning, March 20, from Wenatchee, Wash., to attend the funeral of her mother, Mrs. Cora Young, who was buried March 21st. Mrs. Young was sister to Mrs. Annie Alberts, 711 Vista Terrace, and Mrs. Kate Welker, South Springfield Ave. Their only brother, Mr. Porter Bicksler of Shannon, Ill., passed away just two weeks before Mrs. Young.

Source: The West Suburban News, Rockford, Illinois, April 1949, P. 8.

Submitted by: Randy Campbell 06, 2000

Louisa E. Robey-Young

Mrs. Louisa E. Young, aged 88 years and a lifelong resident of Stephenson County, passed away at the home of her daughter Mrs. Arthur Moore, 626 Elk Street about 11:00 Monday, March 19, 1928. She had been bedfast just one week.

Louisa Robey was born on a farm near McConnell, September 10, 1839. She was the daughter of Levi and Almira Robey. The Robeys were among the first settlers in Stephenson County. They came to this county in a covered wagon from Scioto County, Ohio. A brother, William A. Robey, who passed away last October, at the age of ninety-one, was the first white child in this county, Louisa Robey being the second child. Another brother, L.W. Robey, passed away last September. Mary L. Hartsough is the only one out of a family of five to mourn for her departed sister.

Louisa Robey was married to Robert Young in 1863. They made their home near Dakota, later moving to Rock Run Township, and in 1885 they moved to Freeport, where Mr. Young passed away in 1907. Since that time Mrs. Young has made her home with her daughter, Mrs. A.R. Moore.

She was a member of Embury M.E. Church and her life was lived in a quiet atmosphere of perfect trust in her Master, whom she served to the end of her days. Three Children preceded her in death: William W., Almira V., and Robert Robey. She is survived by three daughters: Mrs. Ardell Harrison, of Lena, Illinois; Mrs. Margaret Hays of Lena, Illinois, and Mrs. Sadie Moore of Freeport.

She is also mourned by seven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and a host of relatives and friends in Freeport and vicinity. Funeral services were conducted this afternoon by the Rev. Will L. Collins of Embury M.E. Church, assisted by Rev. H.J. Collins of Cedarville, at the home of Mrs. A.R. Moore. Burial was in the Cedarville Cemetery.

From a Freeport, Illinois newspaper, after 19 March, 1928.

Submitted by: Randy Campbell 17 Jan 2000

Obituary of Robert Young

Robert Young, one of the old residents of this county, died at his home at 68 Third Street, in the arcade addition, at 4:45 this morning. The deceased has been in poor health since a year ago last February, at which time he contracted the grippe, and from which he never fully recovered. He had been under the constant care of the doctors since last August, the grippe having turned into a complication of diseases, which, owing to his advanced age, he was unable to throw off. Palsey is given as the direct cause of death.

Mr. Young was born in Union County, Pennsylvania September 5, 1833 and was the son of Robert and Sarah Young. When but 6 years old, his father and mother and the other members of his family moved to Illinois and made their first home near Cedarville, on what was known as the James H. Adams farm. This was in 1839. The family remained on this farm until the early 1850's, and then moved to a farm near Dakota Township. Here they remained until 1867 when they returned to the neighborhood of Cedarville. In the 1870's the family moved to Rock Run Township, where they remained until 1895 when Mr. Young moved to Freeport. He purchased a home at 68 Third Street and has resided there since.

In 1863 he was united in marriage to Miss Louisa Robey, at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Levi Robey, near McConnell. Miss Robey was born in this county, her parents having come here in 1834. The forefather of the deceased came to this country before the war of the revolution, and were of Scotch descent and were staunch sympathizers with the colonists. Mr. Young was well known among the older settlers of the county, and while he had lived in the city but a little over 10 years he has made a great many friends. He was honest and upright in all his dealings with his fellow man, and enjoyed the esteem and respect of all who knew him.

The part he played in the early history of this county is very interesting. When his parents first came to this county they lived in a little school house near Cedarville until the little log cabin was constructed. In his boyhood days he hauled grain with an ox team to Chicago. His mother was a charter member of the first Presbyterian church that was built in this city, the deceased having helped to haul the lumber for the same. He was always interested in the good and welfare of the community, and expressed his interest by his generosity in helping build or found various churches in Stephenson County. His life, in fact, was given to others. He was greatly devoted to his wife, and his death leaves a gap never to heal in this world. Her attention and care during his long illness can best express her constancy. She was ever trying to alleviate the pain and relieve the suffering. He was a father that will be greatly missed.

He was a father that will be greatly missed, always looking to and working for the best interests of his children, to whom he was greatly devoted.

He was resigned to his death. Although he had looked forward to again being able to be around, he stated that while he expected to get better, he was resigned to die if it was the Lord's will.

Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Louisa Young; a son, William Young of this city, and three daughters, Mrs. Ardell Harrison of Winslow, and the Misses Margaret J. and Sarah E. Young, both of whom live at home. The former is a clerk at the Jourdan store, and the latter is a school teacher. A brother, J.B. Young, lives at Rock City; a sister, Mrs. Margaret Graham, lives in this city, and another sister, Mrs. Jane Bell, makes her home at the E.J. Bell home in Lancaster Township. Funeral services will be held at the home. Interment will be in the Cedarville Cemetery. Rev. Harry Collins will conduct the services. J. W. Sanderson will have charge of the funeral arrangements.

From a Freeport, Illinois newspaper, 7 May, 1907.

Submitted by: Randy Campbell 17 Jan 2000

Obituary of William Wilson Young

William Young, a former well known resident of Freeport, who served with Company L of this city in the Spanish-American war, died yesterday on his ranch in Cherry County, Nebraska, where he has lived since leaving here in 1907.

The decedent was a well known man among the labor unions of this city; for many years he was actively engaged in the work of organizing unions and he was president of the local Iron Moulders union. He also took an active interest in the affairs of the Illinois National Guard and when volunteers were called for the Spanish-American war, he was one of the first to enlist, and, owing to the fact that he had a great deal of experience, he was given the position of first sergeant of company L, the local company, and he served until the regiment was mustered out. He was also prominently connected with the Court of Honor and Mystic Workers.

William Young was born in Dakota Township, Stephenson County, Illinois, on April 12, 1865, and was the son of Robert and Louisa E. Young, pioneer residents of this county, his father preceding him to the grave eight years ago. He was united in marriage to Miss Cora Bicksler on May 28, 1896, and she, with three children, Viola, Robert, and Alice, all of Dewey Lake, survive. In 1907 Mr. Young went to Dewey Lake, where he homesteaded a piece of land, and since that time has been engaged in the sheep raising business, being very successful. He is also survived by his mother, who resides at 64 Third Street in this city, and three sisters, Sadie E. Moore of Freeport, Mrs. Ardell Harrison of Byron, Illinois, and Miss Margaret Young of Cherry County, Nebraska.

The remains will be brought to this city for interment, arriving here early Sunday morning. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

[died 13 May, 1915, Cherry County, Nebraska; Buried at Cedarville Cemetery]

Obituary 14 May, 1915--Freeport, Illinois Newspaper.

Submitted by: Randy Campbell March 06, 2000

ERMA STEFFEN (1918-1987)

CEDARVILLE - Erma C. Steffen, 68, of Cedarville died today, January 30, at her home.

She retired from Structo Manufacturing, now known as Halsey Taylor/Thermos. She was a member of Richland Free Methodist Church and Women of the Moose.

Born April 17, 1918 in Freeport, she was the daughter of Charles and Ruth (Dittsmorth) Yeager. She married Eldred L. Steffen on August 6, 1977. He died February 20, 1986.

Surviving are three sons, Paul Haefner of McConnell, Charles Haefner of La Mirada, Calif., and Gerald Haefner of Orangeville; a daughter, Barbara (Mrs. Cledith) Purdom of Mahunta, Ga.; a sister, Doris (Mrs. George) Beer of Buena Vista; 27 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by a sister.

Service will be held 3 p.m. Monday at Walker Mortuary. The Rev. Lyle Babcock, pastor of Richland Free Methodist Church, will officiate. Burial will be in Chapel Hill Cemetery.

Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.

A memorial fund has been established for Richland Free Methodist Church.

Xeroxed copy of a Stephenson County news clipping. And it says that she, "died today, January 30."

My grandmother: Erma C Yeager was first married to Paul Haefner and had four children (Paul, Charles, Gerald and Barbara). They were divorced in October of 1944. She married Eldred Steffen on August 6, 1977. They were married until his death on February 20, 1986.

Katherine Herbert - Confer - Zerby


Mrs. Zerby Expires at Cedarville from Ruptures of Blood Vessel


Family Seated at Table When She is Seized With a Fit of Coughing

From Wednesday's Daily

Death under unusually painful circumstances occurred at Cedarville last night When Mrs. Katherine Zerby, aged seventy-six years, ruptured a blood vessel and bled till life was extinct. Mrs. Zerby had been living at the home of her son George Confer and of late had been in very good health.

The family were at the supper table when Mrs. Zerby was seized wit a fit of coughing. She left the table and went to another room. Soon after a blood vessel broke and before medical aid arrived she had bled profusely, Death came at ten minutes to 8 o'clock.

Mrs. Zerby was born in Center County, PA., and had made her home in the west for many years.

Her maiden name was Katherine C. Heckman. She leaves three children, Mrs. Sarah Isenhauer and George Confer of Cedarville and Mrs. Mary Adams of Centre County, Pa.; also one sister in Lincoln, Neb.

The funeral will be held tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock from the house and later from the Evangelical Church.

Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois

Freeport Weekly Bulletin, December 15, 1904

Submitted by: Justine Kamlager-Pennewell-Larson 20 April, 2002


Website Last Updated August 8, 2006

Stephenson County Coordinator: Available for Adoption

 Former County Coordinators: 2003-2005, Deb Haines; 2001-2003, Katherine K. Hebenstreit; 1996-2000, Julie Wirgau.

No claim is made to the copyrights of the individual submitters. The contents of this entire website may be used for personal use only by individuals researching their ancestry. Commercial use of this information for profit is strictly prohibited without prior permission of the owners. Other genealogical websites may link to this website; however, permission is not granted to duplicate any of the contents. Anyone contributing material for posting does so in recognition of its free, non-commercial distribution, as well as the responsibility to assure that no copyright is violated by the submission.