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 by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
EMANUEL T. LEIGH is one of the honored pioneers of Illinois, having been a resident of this State for seventy years. He has made his home for fifty-four years of this time in Bear Creek Township, his place of residence being situated on section 21, where he owns a valuable farm. Mr. Leigh experienced many hardships during his early years in the Prairie State, and well remembers when wolves, rattlesnakes and wild animals of various kinds were very numerous.

The birth of our subject occurred in Prince Edward County, Va., July 27, 1816. His parents, Emanuel J. and Martha (Thomason) Leigh, were likewise natives of the Old Dominion, where their marriage was celebrated. The father was a soldier during the War of 1812, entering the service as a Captain, and being later promoted to the rank of Major. Afterward he followed merchandising at Prince Edward Court House for many years. His store having been destroyed by fire, he moved to Indiana in October, 1822, and remained there during the winter. In the spring of the following year he took his family to Illinois and made a settlement on a farm three miles southeast of Edwardsville, Madison County. For this place, which is now valued at over $100 per acre, he paid $3 an acre, after having lived upon it for seven years. For a period of eleven years he engaged in cultivating the farm, and during his residence in that county was Commissioner for eight years. Later he removed to Brushy Mound, in Macoupin County, living on a farm there for five years. In 1839, he permanently located on land which is now comprised within the limits of Bear Creek Township, and which is the present home of our subject. The father was much respected in this community and with his wife held membership in the Methodist Church. He passed from this life February 15, 1848, when in his seventy-third year. Mrs. Leigh survived him three years, dying at the age of sixty-eight. The Leigh family is of English descent.

The family of which our subject is a member numbered eleven children, as follows: Albert G., Jane, Emanuel T., John, Martha A., Daniel D., Indiana, James M., David, Mary, and one who died in infancy. Of this large family only one, Emanuel, yet survives.

His boyhood was passed in his native county and in Madison County, Ill. His educational privileges were of a limited description, as schools were few and poorly conducted in those early days. In fact, many hardships were necessarily endured by those early pioneers who paved the way to the present prosperity of this State. Until he was thirty years of age, Mr. Leigh never boasted the possession of a pair of boots or an overcoat. He remained with his parents until separated from them by death.

On the 5th of February, 1842, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Leigh and Miss Mary Ann, daughter of John and Betsey (Reed) Hill, the former born in Virginia, and the latter in Lexington, Ky. Eleven children graced the union of our subject and wife. Martha A. became the wife of James Boyd, now of Palmer. They have had a family of ten children. Benjamin F. is the second in order of birth and lives on the old homestead. William T. wedded Miss Jennie Simpson, now deceased, who became the mother of three children, Noah, Ross and Flora. David G. is living with his father. James W. married Miss Angle Curvy, and makes his home in Palmer. They have one child, a daughter, Cora. John H. took for his wife Miss Minnie Heuffner, and they have one daughter, Bessie. Their home is three miles northwest of Palmer. Elizabeth, who is now deceased, was the wife of John Kline, and was the mother of a son, Elmer. Julia, who is now Mrs. William Clark, has one child, Maude. The family lives three miles east of Palmer. Lydia Margaret, who lives in Rosamond, Ill., is the wife of William Starr. Clara resides at home, and one child who died in infancy completed the family. The faithful wife and mother of these children died in 1886, in her sixty-eighth year.

For some years Mr. Leigh was connected with the Odd Fellows' fraternity. He has never desired office, but served for one term as Supervisor of his township. In former years he was a Whig, and has acted with the Republican party ever since its organization. He has been a witness of vast changes in Christian County, in the development of which he has taken an active share. On his arrival here there were no fences, and grain was reaped with a scythe or a small sickle.


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