To The
Christiance Family Reunion
August 1947 - Lowell Park

Descendants of Melugins Grove Settlers Meet

Descendants of Abram Van Eps and Catherine (s/b Caroline) Christiance, pioneers of the 1830's, in the Melugin's Grove vicinity, held a reunion at Lowell Park. During the afternoon the relatives took boat rides. Old friends were welcomed throughout the day, and two sisters, Mrs. John Fairchild of Renton Wash., and Mrs. Lester Phillips of Pittsfield, Mass., met for the first time in 45 years. Mrs. Harry Christiance was in charge of arrangements.

According to the history of the family Abram Christiance and his wife Catherine (s/b Caroline) drove from Schenectady, N.Y. to Lee county in a covered wagon in 1835 and settled on a farm still in the possession of a member of the family, Mrs. Ralph Dixon, daughter of George W. Christiance. Four of the sixteen children of the original settlers, James, George, Cornelius and William served in the Civil War. Mr. Christiance was the first postmaster at Melugin's Grove, which was one of the stops on the Chicago-Galena stage coach route.

Those attending the reunion included: Mr. and Mrs. John Fairchild from Renton, Wash.; Mr. and Mrs. Lesters Phillips of Pittsfield, Mass.; Mr. and Mrs. Burt Christiance of Clear Lake, Ia.; Mrs. Katherine Eastman and daughter Ethel Cook of Clinton, Ia.; Mr. and Mrs. Sanford Hutchinson and Mr. and Mrs. Burton Foster and sons all of Rock Island, Il.; Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Dixon of Maywood; Mrs. Coralie Bell of Berkeley; Mr. and Mrs. Len Carnahan and grandaughter, Mr. and Mrs. Guy Archer and son all of Compton; John Christiance, Everett Christiance, Mrs. Letitica Price and daughters, Ariel & Dorothy; Mr. and Mrs. Everett Thurm, Mrs. Arlie Grady, and Mr. and Mrs. William Kries, all of Dixon; Mr. and Mrs. Edward Salser and daughter of Gary, Ind.; and Mr. and Mrs. Harry Christiance of West Brooklyn.

1850 Census Brooklyn Twp. Lee Co IL
A. V. Christiance 42 NY
Caroline Christiance 38 NY
Wm H Christiance 18 NY
Cornelius Christiance 16 IL
Sarah Christiance 11 IL
George Christiance 12 IL
James Christiance 09 IL
Isabell Christiance 08 IL
Nancy Mineva 19 NY
Noble Reed 43 NY

** The article above indicates Abrams wife was named Catherine. Census report show her name as caroline. Abram married Caroline Borhight who was born April 4, 1812 Schenectady NY. She died in Nov 1871 Compton, Lee Co IL.

Their children were as follows:
William H, 1832 NY
Corlelius 1836 IL
Sarah 1837 IL
James M 1839 IL
George W 20 Jan 1841 d 1923 Brooklyn Twp IL.
Isabell 9 Jul 1842 IL
Caroline Dec 1851 IL

Isabell Christiance born 9 July 1842, died 17 September 1865. She married Richard Holdren 25 Decmeber 1860 in Lee Co IL. He was the son of Adron & Abigail (Demott) Holdren, born 17 March 1821 in Columbia Co PA and died 14 February 1899 in Compton. Their marriage produced four children; Clarence, Elizabeth, Caroline and Isabel.

Dixon Evening Telegraph 29 November 1952

A bit of the romance of Lee County has taken a new turn in the Compton area.

The Christiance homestead, in Brooklyn township settled by A.V. Christiance who had brought his family her by oxen and covered wagon in the height of the western movement in the U.S. has been sold after more than a century of unbroken tenure by this pioneer family.

The sale was made by Mrs. Ralph Dixon, grandaughter of the homesteads settler. The new owners are Mr. and Mrs. Herman Bialas of Mendota.

Mrs. Dixon fairly bubbles with the romantic accounts of her family's traditions - the homestead and how it was perpetuated. She can tell you how her parents (Grandparents?) left Schenectady county NY in 1835, traveled over the Cumberland Trail when it was little more than a path, finally reached Melugins Grove, near what is now Compton and were overwhelmed with the beauty of the countryside and convinced that they had found their "home".

A.V. Christiance, her grandfather, of Dutch and Mohawk Indian ancestry, was born in Schenectady county NY in 1806 and lived there until the spring of 1835. It was then that he was convinced by the glowing reports of rich soil and cheap farm land in the Mississippi valley that he should join the western movement.

Together with his wife and young son he traveled here with their meager belongings, the oxen and wagon that carried them, a few household items, a saw and an axe. And with the latter two tools Mrs. Dixon's grandfather hewed out a homestead that was to serve his posterity for 117 years.

There were but two other settlers in Melugin's Grove when Christiance and his family arrived there. They were Zachariah Melugin, from whom the grove drew its name, and John Gilmore.

Melugin and Gilmore helped the newcomers build a log cabin for their home. Under Christiance the cabin later became an Inn which at times provided shelter and lodging for several legendary figures of those days.

Among the inns curious guests were Judith Smith, leader of the Mormons, and Fox and Birch, notorious leaders of the Banditti of the Prairie.

There also was Chief Shabbona, leader of the Sacs, and whose thumbprint may today be found throughout the area. Tales of Shabbona's love of sitting on the inn floor and recalling for the white settlers his warnings to them of oncoming attacks by Blackhawk and his warriors live on today.

Christiance later became the first postmaster at the grove. Mail was delivered by stage coach or on horseback with the recipients paying the postage.

Of the 16 children born to Mr.and Mrs. Christiance but six lived to maturity. George one of the sons and the father of Mrs. Dixon bought the homestead at public auction upon the death of his father in 188?. Mrs. Christiance had preceded her husband in death.

Mrs. Dixon is one of six children; others were Mrs. Sam Lawrence deceased, Mrs. John Fairchild, Mrs. Ida Phillips, and Harry and Bert.

Mrs. Dixon sold the property last week to go with her husband to go to Honolulu next Friday by plane. There they will be with their daughter Coralie and son-in-law Lt. William J. Bell who is in the armed forces.

The homestead has been in Mrs. Dixon's possession for nearly 30 years. She had bought it after the death of her father in 1923.

The homesteads first barn still stands on the property, a silent tribute to Mrs. Dixon's hardy forefathers and Lee counties romantic past.

Back Home

Illinois - "Our Way"