Lee County Biography

Oliver P. Courtright

Dixon Township

Oliver P. Courtright was born on the farm where he yet resides on Section 2, Dixon Twp., the date of birth being Dec. 26, 1850. He is an enerprising and successful agriculturist of the community and a worthy representative of one of the honored pioneer families. His father was John Courtright, a native of Luzerne County PA and his grandfather was Elisha Courtright, a farmer of the Keystone State, who was born and reared in Luzerne County and there married Miss Sarah Klinetop, also a native of the same county. Nine children were born unto them and in 1836, with their family, they emigrated Westward, traveling in a covered wagon drawn by ox-teams. When the shades of night fell upon them, they would camp along the wayside and in the morning resume their journey. After some weeks they arrived in Lee County, and made a settlement in Dixon Twp. The work of civilization and progress was then hardly begun and in the development and upbuilding of the community Elisha COurtright bore a considerable part. He died on his original farm at the age of 76 years. His wife survived him 10 years and died in 1880, in Milford Neb. at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Carleton Mason. Both were members of the Methodist church and were people of sterling worth.

John Courtright was the eldest of their family. He had attained his majority at the time of their emigration Westward and after his arrival in IL made a claim to Government land, from which he developed a good farm. There he lived and labored for many years and at length passed away in August, 1886 at the age of nearly 65. He was quite a prominent and influential farmer of this community and was numbered among the honored pioners. He experienced all the hardships and trials of frontier life and in common with others in those early days had to haul his grain to market in Chicago, a distance of 100 miles. This is only one of the many disadvantages incurred. He was a worthy citizen, had a host of warm friends and was a man of unblemished character. In religious belief he was a Methodist and in politics supported Republican principles. His wife, whose maiden name was Lydia Whitney, was born in the Province of Ontario Canada and at an early age was left an orphan, after which she found a home with the family of John McKinney whose sketch is given on anotther page of this work. In her girlhood she came with that family to Illinois, remaining with her kind friends until her marriage. She yet survives and is living on the old homestead at the age of 68. Like him she is a member of the Methodist church and for her many excellencies of character she is highly esteemed.

We now take up the personal history of our subject who has spent almost his entire life on the farm which is still his home. In the schools of the neighborhood he acquired his education during the winter season, while in the summer he aided his father in the farm work. He owns and operates the old Courtright homestead which has been his property for three years. He has long resided there, having never left it save when he spent four years in Jackson County Iowa. He has the farm under a high state of cultivation. He votes with the Republican party but takes no active part in public affairs, although he feels a deep interest in everything pertaining to the welfare and upbuilding of the community. He lives a quiet, unassumign life, faithfully discharging his duties of citizenship and is recognized as one of the leading farmers of the township.

In Ashton IL Mr. Courtright was united in marriage with Miss Helen, daughter of Dr. Martin. She was born in Hazel Green, Wis., but the days of her maidenhood were largely spent in Iowa. Her father is a native of Ontario Canada. In his native provicne he was educated and at Mt. Morris IL after which he embarked in the practice of medicine, which he followed until within the past 10 years, since which time he has lived a retired life. His wife, who was a Canadian lady, died in Iowa, in 1880 at the age of 50. The Doctor makes his home with his daughter. He is a member of the Methodist Church, as also is Mrs. Courtright, and with that denomination his wife was likewise identified. In politice, he is a support of the Republican principles. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Courtright has been blessed with an interesting family of six children; Clarence, Ora, Harry, Edward, Mam and Louis all of whom are still at home.

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