Lee County Illinois Biography

CALDWELL BISHOP


One by one the pioneers of Lee County are passing away. After the struggles of pioneer existence, the hardships of frontier life, they have passed to their reward, leaving their descendants to enjoy the fruits of their lives of toil; "afterlife's fitful fever, they sleep well." They have left to their children no memorial but a world made better by their lives, and the heritage of their spotless names is a priceless legacy in the possession of their posterity. 11 may safely be said of Mr. Bishop that the world was made better by his simple, unpretentious and honorable life, and the influence of his upright life has not ceased, although death has removed him from the place where he was formerly a familiar figure. "Though he rests from his labors, his works do follow him."

In Dixon, where he was a leading stone and brick mason as well as a property holder and money loaner, Mr. Bishop resided continuously from his first removal hither in 1842, until his death January 6, 1891. A native of Tioga County, N. Y., he was born in 1819, and grew to manhood in his native place, learning the trade which he followed more or less during his entire life, and acquiring habits of industry which stood him in good stead throughout his career. In his early manhood he was united in marriage with Miss Esther Huff, a native of New York, who died one year after her marriage, leaving a child, now also deceased.

After coming to this State, Mr. Bishop worked as a brick mason as well as a contractor, and invested his earnings in land near Dixon. In 1850 he was married in Elgin, Illinois., to Mrs. Margaret DeGray, who was a native of the Empire State. Her first marriage took place in Illinois, and a few years after that event Mr. DeGray was called away from home and never afterward heard of, so that it is not known in what way he met his death. The widow of Mr. Bishop, who now survives him, was known in maidenhood as Miss Hannah M. Spencer, and was born in Center County, Pa., where she grew to womanhood. She accompanied her parents, David and Rachel (Shivly) Spencer, natives of Pennsylvania, to Illinois, where they established a home at Dixon, 111., in 1855. The ancestors of Mrs. Bishop originally came from Germany, and upon emigrating to America, resided in Virginia.

The paternal grandparents of Mrs. Bishop were John and Susanna (Lightfoot) Spencer, natives of Virginia, who at an early day removed to Center County, Pa.; and there passed the remaining years of their lives. They were the first white people who settled in that county and consequently much pioneer work had to be accomplished by them before the land was subdued and ready for cultivation. David Spencer and his wife remained in Center County until all their children, of whom there were seven, were born and then came to Illinois, and purchasing land near Dixon, devoted their lives to its improvement. In 1864, feeling that he was too old to continue in active farming I pursuits, he sold his estate, and coining to Dixon, here passed from earth in 1870 at the age of sixty-nine years. His wife survived until the spring of 1886, her death occurring at the age of eighty-five years. Mr. Spencer was a Republican in politics, and actively interested in the progress of this county. He and his wife came of good old Quaker stock, and adhered to that faith. Four of their children are yet living.

At the time Mrs. Bishop accompanied her parents to Illinois, she had reached the age of sevenĀ­teen years, and her home was with her parents until she left them to enter a home prepared for her by her husband, which occurred October 27, 1886. She shows splendid judgment in the control and management of the large property left by her husband, and while possessing rare executive ability and sound common sense she also has those pleasant social qualities which make her place in society one of the highest. She remained a devoted companion to her husband until he died, after an illness of two years. In his religious sentiments he was a Universalist, while his political affiliations brought him into the Republican party.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892

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