Norman Parsons, now retired and living quietly at his home at the corner of Fifth and Washington streets, is one of the old settlers, having come here in 1854. He was born in Hartford, Connecticut, November 6, 1811, and was a child only a few years old when his parents, Moses and Elsiby (Pease) Parsons, with a colony of twenty families, during the war of 1812, came overland with teams to Geauga county, Ohio. They arrived in June, 1814, and made a settlement in the heavy timber of that new, unbroken country, surrounded by Indians and plenty of game. He there lived until the country was well improved, when he died some years ago at the advanced age of eighty-seven years. His wife had died some five years before. They were Methodists, and the father and seven sons were all Republicans.
Norman Parsons served with his State militia, went through all the promotions from First Lieutenant to Colonel of his regiment. He was one of the organizers of the G.A.R. at Beardstown.
After his arrival in Beardstown he became a member of the firm of Fischer & Parsons, wagon manufacturers, who did business for two years. A company was then established known as Putnam & Parsons, doing a general tombstone business. This continued for two years, and at this time Mr. Parsons bought a stock of goods at Falls City, Nebraska, where he lived for one year, and then returned to this county, where he secured and began to improve 175 acres of land near Beardstown. Here he continued until 1861, when he enlisted in the Third Illinois Cavalry and was soon after made Sergeant of Company C. He served three years in the army of the West. At Germantown, Tennessee, he veteranized and was made First Sergeant of Company F of the Third Illinois Cavalry, re-organized, and served until the fall of Richmond. He returned to St. Louis, Missouri, with his regiment in 1865, and later was sent to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, to protect the whites against the Indians. He was honorable discharged at St. Paul, Minnesota, June 20, 1865. He was in all the great battles of his division of the army, and had many narrow escapes, and at one time was surrounded by General Forrest's men and made his escape only by his military tactics. He was a man of daring and bravery. He returned to Beardstown in 1865, made a trip to Nebraska on horseback, and spent some time there looking after his real-estate interests.
He was appointed Postmaster of this place by President Grant in his first term, and held it for eighteen years consecutively, and had in the meantime served as Justice of the Peace. He was one of the organizers of the Republican party in Geauga county, Ohio, and was vice-resident of the first anti-slavery society organized in that section.
He was first married in Ohio, to Amanda F. King, who died in 1852, aged thirty-four. She left two sons: Melbourne, living in Beardstown, and William; both of these gentlemen made very fine records indeed in the war of the rebellion. Mr. Parsons was married a second time to Mrs. Catherine Saunders. She has three children by a former marriage, namely: John, a mercantile bookkeeper; George, who was a member of Battery B, Second Illinois Light Artillery, in the late war; and Elva J., a lady of superior talent, and a teacher in the high school, and is now the wife of Mr. Saunders.
Joseph Pence, of township 17, 7 north, range 10 west, section 18, was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, March 10, 1814. His parents were John and Mary (Smith) Pence, both being natives of Virginia. They had three sons and five daughters, Mr. Pence, of this sketch, is the only survivor. One brother died in Davis county, Iowa, and two sisters also died in the same place. The other three sisters died in Cass county, Illinois, and the remaining brother in Scott county, Illinois. The parents both died in Rockingham county, Virginia, the father in June, and the mother in September, 1834.
Mr. Joseph Pence was married in Page county, Virginia, in 1837, to Sarah A. Samuels, of the same county, born in 1812. After marriage the young couple wnet to Kentucky and remained until 1838, when they removed to Morgan county, Illinois. From there they went to Cass county, Illinois, where they have since resided. Mr. Pence bought 205 acres of land, which he has greatly improved. Mrs. Pence died in 1878, and her husband still mourns her loss. Mr. Pence has always been a Democrat and has held the various offices in his township, and was a member of the I.O.O.F.
Mrs. Pence bore her husband six children, namely: Joseph W., a farmer in Iowa, is a widower with nine children; Sarah Ellen, a widow who keeps house for her father. The other children are ded. The daughter married Thomas D. Chapman, who was born near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, January 27, 1842, and was a soldier in Company I, One Hundred and Fifteenth Illinois Infantry, serving three years and three months. He returned home somewhat broken in health, and never entirely recovered, dying August 5, 1885. He left four children and a widow to mourn his loss. The children were: Louie, now Mrs. P.H. Caldwell; Charles F., Albert R. and Joseph H. are all at home with their grandfather, the first named being a member of the Sons of Veterans. Mrs. Chapman was born on the farm on which she now resides, and has always lived there. She is a member of the Providence Presbyterian Church. Her husband was a member of the Masonic order.
Samuel Petefish was born in Rockingham county, Virginia, April 30, 1824, son of Jacob Petefish, a native of the same State. His grandfather, Christian Petefish, was born in Germany.
When a young man, Christian Petefish entered the army. He came to America as a Hessian Soldier during the time of the Revolutionary war. His sympathies, however, were not with the British Government, and after the battle of Princeton he joined the Colonial ranks and fought for independence until peace was declared. He then settled in Virginia, where he reared his family and spent the remainder of his life.
Jacob Petefish was reared and married in the Old Dominion, and resided there until 1835. That year, with his wife and eight children, he started for Illinois. They made the journey with a four-horse team, brought their cooking utensils along, cooked and camped on the way, and arrived in what is now Cass county in October. Mr. Petefish purchased a tract of land in what is now Virginia precinct, engaged in farming, and resided here till the time of his death, in 1849. The maiden name of his wife was Elizabeth Price, she, too, being a native of Virginia. He death occurred in 1854. They reared a family of eleven children. The names of the sons are as follows: William, Jacob, Samuel H., John A., Andrew J. and Thomas B. Andrew J. was a soldier in the late war, and died in the service. Of the daughters we record that Mary wedded Reuben Fultz; Sarah married Robert Maxfield; Elizabeth was the wife of Levi Conover; Ellen married Joseph Crum; and Diana became the wife of Daniel Short.
Samuel H. Petefish was eleven years old when he came to Illinois with his parents, and has witnessed almost the entire growth and development of the county. At the time they settled here, much of the land was owned by the Government; it was many years before the whistle of the locomotive sounded in Cass county; the people lived chiefly on wild game and the products of their own land. The pioneer wives and mothers cooked by fireplaces, they dressed their families in homespun manufactured by their own hands, and many were the hardships and privations they endured. In the primitive log schoolhouses, with their rude furnishings, the children of these pioneer families conned their lessons in the three R's.
The subject of our sketch attended school in the winter and worked on the farm in summer. When he was twenty-one his father gave him and his brother, Jacob, a tract of unimproved land, upon which they commenced life as independent farmers. The father furnished them a team and they at once set about the improvement of their land. A year later they made a contract with a neighbor for 350 acres of land near by, the greater portion of it being improved. The contract price was $3,500. They were to take possession one year later, at which time they were to pay $1.000, and then yearly payments of $500, with interest at six per cent. After farming together three years, they divided their land. Samuel H. was very successful, made his payments as they became due, and continued farming till 1857, when he rented his land and went to the Territory of Kansas, going via the Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri rivers. He resided in Leavenworth and Atchison about one year, and in April, 1858, returned to Cass county. In 1859 he located on his farm, and there resided, engaged in agricultural pursuits, until 1867, since which time he has made his home in Virginia. He is still, however, interested in agricultural pursuits, being now one of the largest land-owners in the county, owning upwards of 1,500 acres.
The business career of Mr. Petefish has been a remarkably successful one. He first became interested in banking in 1864, being one of the original stockholders in the Farmers' National Bank. In 1870, the firm of Petefish, Skiles & Co. was formed, which firm has since conducted a banking business in Virginia. He is also a member of the firm of Petefish, Skiles & Mertz, of Chandlerville, this company having been formed in February, 1881; the firm of Skiles, Rearich & Co., bankers of Ashland, established there in August, 1881; the firm of Bloomfield, Skiles & Co., Mount Sterling; and is a stockholder in the Schuyler County Bank, of Rushville. He is the owner of several business blocks in Virginia, and it was he who platted and named the addition to Virginia, known as Grand Villa. Besides his farms in Cass county, he owns 200 acres of fine farming land in Crawford county, Iowa, also 778 acres in Decatur county, Iowa.
Politically, Mr. Petefish was for many years a Democrat. At present he is a Prohibitionist in principle and practice, and votes with that party.
Mr. Petefish is a man of family. March 18, 1848, he wedded Nancy M. Hudson, daughter of Peter and Melinda (Huffman) Hudson. They have two children living, Mary E., wife of E.D.C. Woodward of Virginia, and Louis A. Such is an dpitome of the life of one of Virginia's most prominent and popular citizens.
Paul P. Philippi, one of the leading and successful young farmers of Cass county, lives on a farm consisting of 200 acres on sections 8 and 5, township 17, range 22, where he was born October 16, 1854. He was reared here by good parents and educated in the public schools and at a German institute in St. Louis. He has always been a farmer and also very industrious, and as he is yet a young man the prospect looks very bright for him. He is the youngest of a family of ten children, five yet living. One, Louisa, wife of John E. Fuhr, a farmer of Christian county, Missouri. The eldest, Mrs. Annie Bohema, is now deceased, and one brither, Victor, fought through the Rebellion for over four years as a private volunteer. He was never wounded or captured, but had a sunstroke in battle and is now dead, leaving a wife and eight children. Herman, a farmer in this county, married Mary Winhold; Bertha is the wife of Ferdinand Winhold, a farmer in this county; Armeda now lives with Paul. Bertha Amelia died when small, and Charles died aged twenth-four.
The father, Pompeius Philippi, was a native of Hamburg, being the eldest of the family of whom the mother and all the children came to the United States, the father having died in Germany. Pompeius Philippi was the inventor of several improvements, which were patented. The last patent issued to him was dated January 24, 1882, for what is now the leading auomatic straw-stacker. The family left April 24, 1834, and after a journey of sixty-two days landed in New York. The mother had her three sons, Pompeius, Julius and Victor and her one daughter, Louisa. From New York they came to Cincinnati, Ohio, and later joined the twin brothers, Caesar and Alexander, at Hamilton, where they had settled when they came over some time before. The family all came West in 1834. Caesar went to New Orleans, where he was married and where he has since lived, being a book-keeper in the Consumers' Ice Company. He is now eighty years old. The other living children are Dr. Julius, who is a widower with two sons and is eighty-four year old, and is yet smart and active. Another brother, Alexander, is now eighty years old, is married and in St. Louis. The family is remarkable for its health and activity. They all are free-thinkers. One brother, Victor, noted for civil engineering, died in year 1842. The mother died when an old lady in Arenzville.
The father of our subject was a faithful man. He was married in Germany to Caroline Richelman of Hamburg, Germany. She was a very beloved woman in all respects, who came with her husband to the United States in 1834 and afterward lived in Cass county. Here she and her husband improved a large farm of 200 acres, now owned by our subject and named Fair View. Here the father and mother died, the former in 1887 and the latter eleven months later. The father was eighty-one years old at death. They had been married fifty-four years and the wife was seventy-seven years old at her death. They were good people and Freethinkers. Mr. Philippi was a Republican, but not an office seeker. They were recognized as pioneers who helped build up the county.
Our subject and brothers were all Republicans in politics. He has never married and is a reliable good farmer of the county.
Christian Pilger, a live man and old citizen of Beardstown, was born in Waldeck, Prussia, in 1836, and came of a good old German family. His father, Fred Pilger, was at one time Mayor, as had been his father and grandfather before him. The same office is now held by one of the sons in the town of Berick, where the family has lived. The father and mother of our subject, were good Lutherans and lived and died in their native country. They had a family of eleven children, five of whom came to this country, three of whom are yet living. He came to Beardstown in June, 1855, a young man twenty years of age. He was engaged as a bench tailor for some years, when in 1873, he, with Henry Garm started in business as merchant tailors. He enlisted in August, 1862, in Company A, One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Captain John M. Johnson and Colonel James W. Judy, commanding. He was engaged in the battles of Vicksburg, Jackson, Mississippi, Nashville, thence down to New Orleans, across the Gulf of Mexico to Mobile, and was in all the battles of that section. In all this military duty our subject escaped wounds or capture, but twice suffered sunstroke. He was Corporal of his company when discharged, August 13, 1865. Since his return he has been a live member of the place. In 1882, Mr. Pilger's business was carried on for two years under the name of Pilger & Huge, at which time Mr. Pilger assumed sole charge of the business until 1889. Mr. Pilger is now engaged in the real-estate business, is a Notary Public, and carries a number of lines of insurance. He is agent for the Equitable Building & Loan Society, of Peoria, and is City Clerk of Beardstown. He has been very successful in life, and has amassed a good property in this city. The spot on which his office now stands was formerly the old house site of Mr. Thomas Beard, who first settled here, established the ferry, and later laid out the town. Mr. Pilger was for years the proprietor of the Pilger block on the corner of State and Main streets. He is a worker for the Boys in Blue, and is a charter member of the McLane Post, G. A. R. No. 97, of Beardstown, was its first Quartermaster, and has held the position nearly ever since. The Sons of Veterans of this place also named their camp in his honor. He has been for many years a member of Cass Lodge, No. 25, A. F. & A. M., and has taken an active part in it.
He was married in this city to Miss Margaret Schuman, born in Baden, Germany, and came to this country when eighteen years of age. Her parents also came to Beardstown and died here consistent members of the Lutheran Church. Mr. and Mrs. Pilger are parents of but one daughter, an accomplished young lady, a leader in social circles and now the wife of William F. Stanley, foreman in the paint shop of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company of this city.
William T. Price, a progressive farmer of Virginia precinct, Cass county, Illinois, was born in Morgan county, same State, November 6, 1840.
His parents were Adam and Susan (Rosenberger) Price, both of German descent, and natives of Rockingham county, Virginia, where they lived to maturity and were married. In 1833 they removed to Morgan county, Illinois, where the father entered and improved a large tract of Government land. In 1852 they moved to Virginia precinct, Cass county, where they settled on a farm on which they passed the remainder of their lives. The greatly esteemed and lamented father passed away February 1, 1875, his worthy wife surviving him until September, 1881. They, with five infant children, are interred in Bethelem cemetery, the ground of which was donated by them for a public burial place. They were both devout Christians, who rendered valuable service for many years to the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which the father filled, at different times, all the offices ever conferred on lay members. "Uncle Adam", as he was familiarly known, was a person of marked individuality and strong convictions, whose sterling integrity and earnest advocacy of all principles of justice won for him many friends where he was so well known. Of their twelve childen, seven attained maturity, six now living (1892). John W., the eldest son, is a large landowner in Wilson county, Kansas. He married Maria Ganse, an estimable lady, and both are prominent in church and social circles. William T., whose name heads this biograpy, is the next in order of birth; Anna Eliza married James V. Rawlings, a prosperous farmer of Virginia precinct; Adam C. is a successful farmer of Douglas county Illinois; Mary E. married Charles E. Strickler, of Sibley, Iowa; Amanda J., umnarried, resides in Virginia; and Sarah E., the youngest, married Alfred Griffin, of Nokomis, Illinois, and died in 1885.
The subject of this sketch spent his boyhood and early manhood on his father's farm and obtained a rudimentary education in the public schools. Amid these rural, peaceful scenes, he passed his time in the companionship of parents and friends until he attained his majority, when this happy state was rudely broken by the discordant notes of war. With youthful enthusiasm and patriotism, he enlisted in Company D, One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry for three years. He participated, with his command in the siege of Vicksburg and in many of the numerous battles which occurred in and around that almost invulnerable stronghold. In the engagement at Guntown, Mississippi, his regiment suffered severely, many being killed or wounded, while the remainder, including the subject of this notice, were captured and incarcerated in the prison at Andersonville, where Mr. Price was confined four months. He was eventually transferred to Millen, Georgia, via Savannah, that State; and a month later, was sent to Florence, South Carolina, arriving there November 28, and remaining there until February of the following year. He was then sent, with other prisoners, to Richmond, Virginia, there paroled and sent North, and on arriving in St. Louis was granted thirty days' furlough. When in prison, Mr. Price gladly exchanged a valuable watch for an old, ragged blanket, considering it one of the best trades of his life. He was in the prison at Andersonville when the comrades were hung for stealing from their mates, whom they murdered to conceal their theft. A court, organized from among the prisoners, passed sentence on them and witnessed the execution. It was also while he was in prison that the "providence" spring burst forth, originating as if by magic and yielding to the famishing prisoners as abundant supply of cold water of clearest crystal.
On the expiration of his furlough, he returned to Montgomery, Alabama, and three weeks later the war closed and he returned to his home, resuming the duties which had been interrupted three years before.
On December 29, 1870, he was married to Augusta R., daughter of William and Elizabeth (Clutch) Marshall, pioneers of Cass county, James Marshall, her grandfather, having located in the county as early as 1825. Her father was of Scotch esecent; while her mother was of Welsh ancestry, who emigrated to America in Colonial times, was in Waynesville, Ohio, and reared a Quakersee. Her father entered and improved the land on which Mr. Price's house now stands, while the beautiful, towering, maple trees which adorn the place are attractive memorials of his tast and enterprise, being planted half a century ago by his hands. This was his home until death, when his widow and three children removed to Jacksonville, this State, where Mrs. Price was married. Her mother remained there until her death in 1874. In 1883, Mr. Price was called upon to mourn the death of his wife, which occurred on the old homestead.
With the exception of his three years' war experience, Mr. Price has followed agricultural pursuits. Politically he affliates with the Republican party, Religiously, he is an earnest member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and contributes liberally to the advancement of that and all other worthy objects.