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Clay County

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    Caleb Odell, farmer and stock-raiser, P.O. Hoosier Prairie, was born September 29, 1827, in Lawrence County, Ind.  His father Joseph Odell (deceased), was a native of Randolph County, N. C. Mr. Odell was brought up on the farm, and attended a subscription school. In the fall of 1852, he came to this county to improve his 200 acres of land, which he had previously entered. This constitutes a portion of his present beautiful farm on Levitt's Prairie, in Hoosier Township. He did not settle on his land, however, until early in 1853, when he built a rude log hut and began making other improvements.
    Like other pioneers, Mr. Odell became much disheartened by sickness, and used every possible effort to sell his possessions and leave the country; at one time he proposed to Henry Conley to trade him his 200 acres of land for a team and wagon and $200 in money, but it seemed out of the question to sell, and as he had nothing with which to go away he was compelled to remain. 
    When he began life, he had a wagon and two ponies, and $115 in money. He has been eminently successful, and now owns 340 acres of valuable land, well stocked and improved, and has the finest brick residence in Hoosier Township.
He had three brothers, all of whom were soldiers for the Union in the late war.  In 1862, he held the office of Assessor for Hoosier Township. In religion, he is a Baptist. 
    Mr. Odell was married the first time on the 9th of November, 1848, to Nancy J. Higginbotham, by whom he had ten children; of these eight are living, viz., Joseph, Rebecca, Martha J., Sidney, Hugh, Caleb, Elizabeth and Frederick.
    Mrs. Odell died March 2, 1877, and on the 2nd day of the following June he married Mrs. Nancy A. Maxwell, who had been twice married before. By her he has had four children, three of whom are living, viz., Valentine, Perley and Bertha. This last wife had two children by her first husband, viz., Lurinda and Ella Herley.
    We should have mentioned that Mr. Odell owns a very fine traction engine and thresher, which he operates each season.  
Excerpt from "History of Wayne and Clay Counties, Illinois 1884"

Levi Onstott, farmer, P.O. Xenia, was born in Washington County, Ind., June 4, 1817, and is the son of Maj. John Onstott by his first wife.  Our subject was brought to this county in 1828, and has since resided here.  When first coming, the Indians were camped on his present farm, and he often played with the Indian boys, and they would stay all night with him at his father's, but he was afraid to return the visits in like manner.  His was the experience of a frontier boy, going alone to Saline, Ill., for salt, when there was only a trail to follow, and when the wolves would howl around him, and when they  had to go to Lebanon, Ill., to mill, a distance of about sixty-five miles, etc.  He attended the first Circuit Court held in the county, at Maysville, when it took all to form the jury, etc.  He was first married in 1838 to Miss Elizabeth Holtsclaw, of Jefferson County, Ill.  Soon after this, he settled on his present farm, which now contains about 200 acres of land.  By this marriage he had eleven children, eight of whom are now living, viz., Martha A., Margaret E., Maria D., Rhoda S., Malinda C., Mary A., John J. and Henry J.  Mrs Onstott died December 29, 1873, and he was married, November 18, 1875, to Miss Martha King, a native of Indiana, and a daughter of William H. and Susan King.  They had moved to this county in 1852, when Mrs. Onstott was but two years old.  They are now residents of Oskaloosa Township, Clay County.  By this marriage, Mr. Onstott has two children, viz., Willliam H. and Susan.  In politics, he is a Democrat.     Excerpt from "History of Wayne and Clay Counties, Illinois 1884 "

    J.D. Onstott, farmer, P.O. Xenia, was born in Clay County, Ill., July 28, 1859, and is the son of Maj. John Onstott by his third wife.  Our subject was reared in this township, and has always lived at his present home, except for about thirty months, when living in Xenia, where he was attending school, and (working) in the store of J.W. Westcott.  When starting in life for himself, it was as a farmer, on the old homestead, which he now owns, having a body of land containing 400 acres, 300 of which are in cultivation.  February 10, 1880, he was married in Clay County to Miss Celestial Morris, born in Middle Tennessee August 12, 1858, and a daughter of William H. Morris.  This marriage has been blessed with two children, viz., Clara (born March 23, 1881) and Oscar R. (born May 17, 1883).  In politics, Mr. Onstott is a firm Democrat.    Excerpted from "History of Wayne and Clay Counties, Illinois 1884"

    Major John Onstott, (deceased).  Among the early settlers of Xenia Township who took an active part in developing the county, and who were widely known , was the gentleman whose name heads this sketch.  He was born in North Carolina July 20, 1792.  For many years in his youth he followed teaming in his native State, and in Kentucky, Indiana and even Illinois.  He took an active part in the war of 1812, and during the Black Hawk war was a Major in the army.  He was married three times, first to Miss Elizabeth White, who was the mother of three children who lived to maturity, only two of whom now survive--Mrs. Sophia Edwards of Carlyle, Ill., and Levi Onstott, whose sketch appears.  His second wife was Miss Elizabeth Patton, who died childless.  His last marriage was in 1857, in Sedalia, Mo., to Miss Cecelia Fergeson.  By this marriage there were two sons, only one of whom now survives, J.D.   Maj. Onstott moved to this county in 1828, and lived here most of the time till his death, which occured May 16, 1876.  His occupation while living in this county was mostly that of farming and stock-dealing, and he was very successful.  At his death, he left a landed property of about 760 acres, 480 lying in Clay and 280 in Marion County.     Excerpted from "History of Wayne and Clay Counties, Illinois 1884"



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