genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
GROVE P. LAWRENCE, who for many years has creditably filled the office of Justice of the Peace in Pana, and is one of the well-known and popular citizens, was born in Norfolk, Litchfield County, Conn., on the 20th of November, 1830. His father, E. Grove Lawrence, was a native of New York, but was reared in Connecticut, where he met and married Jerusha Stevens, a native of the Nutmeg State.

The subject of this sketch spent his early boyhood upon his father's farm and in a store at Norfolk, his father being a merchant at that place. He remained under the parental roof until he had attained his majority.
He was well educated, and after enjoying the privileges afforded by the public schools, he entered Yale College [ed., Yale University], in 1852, pursued the classical course, and was graduated in 1856 in a class of more than one hundred. Two of the Judges of the United States Supreme Court were among its members, Judge Brewer and Judge Brown, also Chauncey M. Depew.

The father of our subject was extensively engaged in the manufacture and sale of dry goods, and invested some of his capital in farm lands in the West. His son Grove, after leaving college, came to the West in order to superintend the business affairs connected with the farm, and in the fall of 1859 he opened a store in Pana, which he carried on in connection with the management of his father's interests. He improved a farm of four hundred and eighty acres, which is still owned by Mr. Lawrence, Sr., who is yet living in Norfolk, Conn., at the age of eighty-seven years. He also has other landed interests in the southern part of the State.

Our subject carried on general merchandising from 1859 until 1863, when he disposed of the store and returned to Connecticut to die, as he thought. He had been in very poor health for some time, and his physicians gave him no encouragement. He went to the East, spent a number of weeks in travel, and after a few months again came to this State with health restored.

In 1867 he went in company with the Exchange Bank in connection with J. C. Helmick, who died two years later, while Mr. Lawrence still lives and is quite robust. He carried on his banking operations until 1873, when, in the spring of that year, he embarked in railroad construction in Missouri, on a line from Keokuk, Iowa, to Kansas City. About sixteen miles were built, and the work seemed to be progressing finely.

The counties through which the road was to pass assisted in its construction, but repudiated the bonds, and in the financial panic of 1873 the concern was closed up. Mr. Lawrence having gone security on the construction, and the venture proving a failure, heavy losses were brought upon him, and he was forced to close his bank, being left without a dollar.

Later he became manager for his father's interests. He carried matters along until 1878, and during that time paid nearly all of his creditors. He then accepted the benefit afforded by the bankrupt act. There had been $5,000,000 issued in bonds and contracted for the road, but on account of the financial crisis of 1873 they were not disposed of.

Turning from the public to the private life of Mr. Lawrence, we note that on the 26th of October, 1866, he was united in marriage with Miss Ella B., daughter of Dr. D. H. Blackburn. Her father died about a year ago, but her mother is still living in Pana.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence have been born three children: E. Grove, of St. Louis, Mo., who is now engaged as contracting agent of the Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad; Hiram A., at home; and Lyda B., who is now engaged in teaching music.

Mr. Lawrence is now serving his twelfth year as Justice of the Peace. He has proved himself an able and competent officer, and is also a popular one, and no higher testimonial to his ability could be given than his repeated re-election.

With the Presbyterian Church he holds membership, and lakes an active interest in all that goes to promote its growth and upbuilding. The cause of temperance finds in him a warm friend, and he votes with the Prohibition party. His influence was largely felt in securing an anti-license vote in Pana. He is ever on the side of law and order, morality and upright living, and his own honorable career has gained him universal confidence and esteem.


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