Thomas Alyea, druggist, was born at Miamitown, Ohio, September 21, 1821. His father, Joseph Alyea, from New Jersey, was three times married. By his first wife he had two children; by his second, Margaret Love, mother of our subject, four were born and by the last, eight: three sons and five daughters. The family moved from Mr. Alyea's birthplace to Fairfield, Franklin county, Indiana, where his mother died when he was eight years old. In 1838 a second removal brought them to New Boston where Mr. Alvea has resided continuously until the present time. In 1845 he went to Mount Morris Seminary in Ogle county and attended school there one year. He was the second vender of drags in New Boston, and opened in 1853 the first exclusive drug store, which he has conducted since. From 1847 lo 1853 he was selling dry goods, and from 1854 till now he has been engaged in the ice business. On the 28th of June, 1849, he was married to Miss Sarah A., daughter of John and Amelia C. Signor. The same year he was elected county surveyor, and held that office one term of two years. He still devotes a little attention to surveying, and has in his possession the old field notes procured by Judge Gilmore nearly fifty years ago. He was the first town clerk after the adoption of township organization, and has filled the same position in the town of New Boston. A leading member of the Methodist church for many years, he has held official connection in the responsible positions of trustee thirty years, class-leader twenty-five years, and sexton, recording steward and Sunday school superintendent, also, for long periods. He was the first treasurer of the American Bible Society in this county. He has shown himself active and useful in the temperance movement, and has belonged to about all the organizations in New Boston. He was bred politically in the whig party, and cast his first vote for Henry Clay in 1844. He has maintained his fidelity to the republican party since its organization. Mr. and Mrs. Alyea have been the parents of eleven children, seven of whom are dead. The survivors are: Thomas Edmund, a physician, living at Princeville; Willard Henry, Florence Luella, and Lily Belle. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
Sidney Chidster, farmer, was born in Trumbull county, Ohio April 1, 1816. He is the fourth child of Hezekiah and Lyda Chidster. He worked with his father at the carpenter's trade until twenty-two years of age, when he came west and settled in Mercer county, where he has lived ever since. Being one of the early settlers of the county, he had to endure all the hardships connected with pioneer life. His education was limited to a common school course. In politics Mr. Chidster had always been a republican until 1875, when he joined the party known as the greenback party, of which he has since been a member. He was elected school trustee in 1845, and served twenty-five years consecutively. In 1847 he was elected justice of the peace, and served three years. In 1840 he was elected county associate justice for the term of three years. He was the first supervisor of New Boston township, and served as chairman of that board. In later years, he has served ten years as township collector. He has always been an active temperance man. In March, 1842, he was married to Miss Rachel Stewart, daughter of William and Nancy Stewart. She was born in Trumbull county, Ohio, August 10, 1823. They have had three children: William and Lyda, who are at home, and Rachel, who is married to Milton F. Weeden. August 10, 1853, Mr. Chidster was called to mourn the loss of his beloved wife.[HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
HENRY W. DENISON
Henry W. Denison was born in Mercer county, Illinois, March 16, 1832, being the first white child born in the county. His father, John W., together with his grandfather, William, formed the first settlement in the county, which was in the year 1827. He is the youngest child of John W, and Margaret (Swatford) Denison. His folks came overland with teams from Wayne county, Indiana, with Indians on all sides of them, reaching Mercer county without losing any of their family. They ever afterward lived on friendly terms with the Indians. One of the Indian warriors once remarked that if they killed them they would do it easy, which meant that they would never do anything more than whip them. He has been mostly engaged in farming and stock-raising. His chances for obtaining an education were limited to what he could obtain from Simeon P. Smith, who taught his first school in Henry's father's kitchen. He has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows since the first organization of that society in New Boston. He was either the first or second one taken into the lodge. He does not know whether he or B. Milliken, of Viola, was first, as they both came in at the first meeting. He has held all the offices in his lodge at various times. He was always a democrat until 1872. From that time to the present he has been a "greenbacker." He was married to Miss Turana C. Moore, daughter of John S. and Hannah Moore. Mrs. Denison was born February 17th, 1844. They have had six children, in the following order: Carrie (dead). Sally (married to Herbert Good), Alice (married to John Fuller), Maggie (dead), Willie (dead), and Freddie. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
Courtney Drury was born in Wayne county, Indiana, November 23, 1820. He came to Mercer county, Illinois, with William Willits and family, in the fall of 1834. He remained with them for some time, and then sold goods for the firm of Drury & Willits. In 1842 he returned to his old home in Indiana, and went to school that fall and winter. He was married April 12, 1842, to Ruth Willits, and removed to Mercer county, Illinois, in the fall of the same year. That winter he bought eighty acres of land, partly improved. He sold his farm in the winter of 1845, and the following spring moved to the village of New Boston. Mr. Drury lost his wife February, 1847. He then returned to the State of Indiana, and spent the most of that summer there; then returned to New Boston, and, with James S. Thompson, purchased the mercantile establishment of Drury & Willits. The new firm conducted the trade of this house for eight years, at the end of which time they sold out, and Mr. Drury bought land near the village of New Boston, which he improved, and has engaged in farming and stock raising ever since. Mr. Drury has made a specialty of breeding fine horses, and has had some of the best stock ever kept or owned in Mercer county. He has a passion for a fine horse, and gratifies it. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
William Drury, the subject of this sketch, was born in Pickaway county, Ohio, September 17, 1809, and removed to Wayne county in 1811, with his parents, where Mr. Drury remained until he attained the age of manhood. The family were subject to all the privations of pioneer life as well as the alarms of savage warfare, and during the troubles in 1812 they often had to retreat to the block-houses for protection. Mr. Drury's education was limited to a common school, but he attained education enough to teach several terms of school before he came west. In 1833 Mr. Drury came to Illinois to look at the country, and for the first time saw real prairie land - quite a curiosity to one who has been reared in a wooded country. Mr. Drury determined to make this his home, made a selection, and in 1834 returned and made a claim, and settled down at the foot of the bluffs, near where he now resides. Through his influence several families came with him. So disgusted with things were they, that they threatened a dissolution of friendship with him if he did not desist in speaking in praise of the country. In 1840 Mr. Drury returned to Indiana, and was married, July 1, to Miss Vashti Lewis, daughter of Caleb and Polly (Willits) Lewis. Mrs. Drury's father served as a member of the legislature a number of times. Immediately after the organization of Mercer county in 1835, Mr. Drury was elected to fill the office of county recorder a number of consecutive years. In 1836 he was elected county clerk, in conjunction with the former office. While holding these offices Mr. Drury furnished all his own stationery and met his office expenses out of his own private means. In 1836 he commenced a small trade in dry goods and groceries in partnership with Levi Willits, under the firm name of Drury & Willits. They furnished the people with all necessaries that were required. They bought pork, grain and other products, and shipped them to St. Louis. They did the first pork packing in the county. They continued business until 1848, when they sold out to Courtney Drury and James S. Thompson, who formed a partnership under the name of Thompson & Drury. Mr. Drury spent about a year, after the sale of his interest, in settling up his business, when, in 1850, he started a small cash store, which he conducted until 1853, when, on account of failing health, be sold out his interest, and has since given his attention to the management of his large estate, and to the importation and raising of fine stock, and the banking business. In 1871, in partnership with other wealthy men of the county, he assisted in organizing a Farmer's National Bank, at Keithsburg, of which he is a large stockholder and president. Mr. Drury says he has made it a practice all his life, that at the end of each year his income shall be greater than his expenses. He thinks this accounts for his large estate, and not to any mental gift. This he would recommend to all young men starting in life. Mr. Drury was among the first settlers of the county. He was well acquainted with Black Hawk and Keokuk, the two noted Indian chiefs. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
MATHEW C. FALKENBURY
Mathew Clark Falkenbury was born in Mercer county, Illinois, on July 19, 1861, and was raised in Washington County, that state, up to the age of 18 years. He acquired an education mostly in common schools and was graduated in the Bachelor of Science degree at the Central Normal College of Danville, Indiana, in 1884, and came west in the same year. In 1888 he founded the Southwest Leader at Southwest City. He was married to Miss Grace McClain of Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1888. His father, Don A. Falkenbury is a native of eastern New York who emigrated to Illinois at an early day and later to Florida. His mother, Miranda E. Miller, was raised at Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Falkenbury is a man of superior ability and publishes a paper of which Southwest City and McDonald County should be proud. ["History of McDonald County, Missouri", by Judge J. A. Sturges, 1897 -- Submitted by Linda Rodriguez]
ANDREW P. GIBSON
Widely and favorably known as a citizen and prominently identified with the farming and stock interests of Neosho county is Captain Andrew P. Gibson, of this review. As a settler he dates among the first to settle the prairies, having located on Big Creek in the year 1870 where he purchased a tract of school land, then wild and unimproved as nature had left it. Out of the years which have since elapsed has come the magnitude of his possessions and the stability and independence of his financial position, placing him in the foreground of Neosho county's successful men.
Our subject is a native of Indiana, having been born in Marion county on the 12th of June, 1837. His people were Kentuckians, in Bourbon county of which state his father, James M. Gibson, was born in 1797 and in which state he married Polly Hamm who was born there in 1802. The parents settled in Marion county, Indiana, in the early thirties and resided there till 1842, when they removed to Mercer county, Illinois, and there died; the father in 1855, and the mother in 1852. Of their ten children only three survive, as follows: Mrs. Mary A. Noble, of Humboldt, Kansas; Andrew P., and Mrs. A. P. Finch, of Chanute. Those deceased are Huldah, James H., William A., Marvin, Louisa J., Amanda F. and John O.
Andrew P. Gibson grew up on a farm in Mercer county, Illinois, and was left an orphan at the age of eighteen years. He acquired a fair education in the country schools at his command and exhibited an aptitude and a fondness for trading early in life. His handling of horses and cattle in this way proved profitable and he took board at a hotel and engaged in it as a business. He joined a company in 1858 and crossed the "plains" to Colorado where he was one of twenty-seven to discover gold in California Gulch, now the Leadville district. He owned mine number 3 in the Gulch, by right of discovery, which he worked till his supplies were exhausted. Returning to St. Joseph, Missouri, for more supplies, he learned of the firing on Fort Sumpter and the outbreak of the civil war. His patriotism burning within him he deserted his diggings in the Rockies and hastened to his home in Illinois where, in July, 1861, he enlisted as a private in Company I, Forty-fifth Illinois Voluteer [sic] Infantry. His regiment became a part of the troops operating under General Grant at Fort Donelson and it remained with that commander in all his engagements along the Mississippi river and elsewhere to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 45th Illinois was the first to hoist the stars and stripes over Vicksburg after its surrender and, as provost officer, our subject marched into the captured city at the head of the victorious army. After the settlement of the situation at Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, this regiment went on the Atlanta campaign and accompanied Sherman's army to the sea. Returning toward Washington it aided in the reduction of the wavering Confederacy, the capture of Johnston's army, and the close of the war. Its last public service was to participate in the Grand Review at the National capital and our subject was with it, and an official part of it nearly all the way through. The nearest call to a wound he had was when his shoulder strap was shot away and he was never taken prisoner and never served a day in the hospital. He was taken from the ranks and commissioned a second lieutenant, was promoted to first lieutenant, and finally made captain of his company. He was mustered out in June, 1865, with his regiment, and returned home a veteran volunteer of the rebellion.
November 8, 1865, Captain Gibson was united in marriage with Nettie E., a daughter of Clinton G. Taylor, born in New York state February 2, 1839. When five years old Mrs. Gibson moved with her father to Whiteside county, Illinois, and later on removed to Rock Island county, where she came to womanhood. Clinton G. Taylor married Eliza M. Barnes of New York, and died at Galesburg, Illinois, in 1872. His widow is a resident of Ottawa, Kansas, in full possession of her faculties at the age of ninety-one. Their children were seven in number, five of whom survive. Leona A., Nettie E., Rev. Mark B., of Brooklyn, New York; Grant H., Arthur L., of Iola, Kansas; Asa G., and Ella C.
Captain Gibson farmed five years in Illinois after his marriage and came to Neosho county, Kansas. He erected a small log house on his quarter of land and the one room down stairs and the one "up-stairs" provided their domestic accommodations for some years. He brought with him to Kansas two teams and six hundred dollars and has brought to his possessions nine hundred eighty acres of land, three hundred seventy of which he has diverted to his son and the remainder still a part of his estate. He has long since erected a fine commodious residence and his large barn is the third one to occupy the same-foundation; the others, with contents of hay, grain, implements and stock, having been destroyed by fire. He has come to be one of the heaviest feeders and shippers of cattle and hogs from his county, four hundred head of the former going from his pens to market every ordinary year. His first experience in the feeding of cattle began with a yoke of oxen with which he broke prarie [sic]. He fatted them in an old log stable and when ready for market he could not pass them through the door and one side of the building had to come out to permit their escape from prison.
In the politics of Neosho county, Captain Gibson has been most active and influential. He is a staunch Republican and represented his district in the state legislature in 1875. He was a delegate to the Republican National convention at Minneapolis in 188l when Blaine and Logan became the party nominees. He was an ardent admirer and personal friend of General Logan.
The children of Captain and Mrs. Gibson surviving, are Mark G. and Ruth E., and those deceased are Bertha L., Clinton J. and Ben C.
February 2, 1902, all the widows of settlers as early as 1870 were invited by Captain Gibson to his home to a reunion and nine ladies were present and honored the invitation. Reminiscences of the early times were indulged in freely and, in spirit, old age gave way to youth, for the time being, and the meeting was one of the events of Big Creek township. By a study of the situation at the meeting, Captain Gibson was discovered to be the only male survivor on the creek who settled there in the year whose memory they were called together to celebrate.
As a citizen Captain Gibson is above reproach and without suspicion of evil. While he has been earnestly devoted to his personal interests, the spirit of humanity has ever pervaded him and he has lent a hand to the struggling and deserving poor. Wherever duty called him, whether as plainsman, soldier, farmer, or in the whirl of politics, he has gone about it with the same earnest confidence in the accomplishment of his purpose. He is a genuine character of his county and Big Creek township furnishes no more worthy or honored son. [Source: History of Neosho and Wilson Counties, Kansas, Pub. by L. Wallace Duncan, Fort Scott, Kansas, Monitor Printing Co., 1902; tr. by VB]
Harley Ives, farmer, was born in Connecticut, January 15, 1803. He is the third child of Caleb and Sarah (Booth) Ives. He came overland, and settled near Oquawka, in Henderson county, in 1836, where he lived two years, when he moved to Mercer county, and settled one mile east of New Boston, where he has lived ever since. During the early part of his life he was engaged in farming, and working at the cooper trade, being the first cooper in the county. In 1827 he was married to Miss Ruth Ives, daughter of Gideon and Charlotte (Hall) Ives. They have had five children born to them: Gilbert H, who is married to Miss Mary A Scudder, a daughter of Ennis Scudder; Martha W., dead; Gideon, at home with his parents; Emery K., married to Miss Marv E. Hartsock; Caroline, married to John W. Histed. Mrs. Ives has always been a member of the Baptist church. Mr. Ives has always been an active temperance man. In politics he is a democrat. At present, Mr. Ives is seventy-nine years of age and in splendid health and very active. Financially he is in good circumstances. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
JAMES M. MANNON
We cannot expect in a short sketch to do justice to one who has resided in the county near forty six years, but glean a few facts in which the readers of this work will feel a deep interest. Such a person is James M. Mannon, who was born in Wayne county, Indiana, September 16, 1823. He resided in his native state until thirteen years of age and then came west to Mercer county, and with his parents settled in Eliza township, where he lived until he attained the days of manhood. He took such chances as were offered in those early times for acquiring a common school education. By much reading and general study he has become well informed on all the leading questions of the day April 6, 1849, he was married to Miss Rebecca daughter of Patrick Shirkey. After being married some nine years, his companion was called away to the silent tomb, September 5, 1857. He married his present wife, Sarah J. Moore, January 6, 1859. She is a daughter of George and Jemima Moore, of New Boston township. Their children are Bertha B., George M., James M., Levi E., and Charles N. Mrs. Mammon's grandfather, Robert Moore, served in the war of 1776 - and he and his two sons, Thomas and James, served in the war of 1812. Colonel Mannon started out in life as tiller of the soil which business he followed some fifteen years, when he was elected sheriff of Mercer county on the republican ticket. In 1858, after serving his term as sheriff, he was elected circuit clerk and county recorder, which positions he held for two years. In response to the call of the government for troops to put down the rebellion of the southern states, he enlisted in the 102d Ill. Vol. Inf., and was elected captain of company K, afterward major, and later, lieutenant colonel. He was in all of the fighting in Sherman's march to the sea coast, until the siege of Atlanta, when pressed by home interests he resigned and came home. Soon after joining his family he commenced mercantile business in New Boston in partnership with Anthony Burdick under the firm name of Burdick and Mannon. They did a large business for some three years when Mr. Mannon purchased the interest of Mr. Burdick and continued the business two years longer. He then sold off his stock of goods and bought a farm five miles northeast of New Boston, where he resides at present, comfortably situated. He commenced his business life with only eighty dollars. Mr. Mannon has always been an active republican and taken considerable interest in advocating its principles, and carrying into effect the doctrines advocated by that party. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
The subject of this personal notice is the active head of the Martin household in Ladore township, Neosho county. He represents a family who came early to the county and who have been prominently identified with its agricultural and civil affairs. He is the second son of the late Hon. Joseph Martin, ex-representative to the state legislature, and was born on the 14th of April, 1880. His father was one of the widely known men of his county and he excelled not only in his social and political acquaintance but in his business affairs also. The latter was born in Mercer county, Illinois, March 4, 1842, was reared and educated in that state and came to manhood upon the farm. He was united in marriage with Susan Beard of the same county, a daughter of Abram Beard, and in 1872 came to Kansas and entered from the government the beautiful farm upon which his widow and son still reside. His good taste and industry showed themselves to great advantage in the development of one of the most attractive country sites to be found. Four hundred and twenty acres are embraced in the farm which stands as a monument to the energy and industry of Mrs. Martin and her late husband and its affairs have been markedly conducted in line of the plans of its late owner since his assumption of the charge at his father's death.
Joseph Martin, Sr., was one of the plainsmen of the early time. When young and daring he sought the frontier and became associated with the "trail" from the Missouri river to the Rocky Mountains. He spent four years as a wagon-master and followed the rough and tumble of that life till 1871, when he returned to his native state. His success in business and his evident fund of information concerning questions of everyday life commended him for any duty within the gift of Neosho county and in 1889 he was nominated by the Republicans for representative to the legislature. He was re-elected two years later and performed his duties so as to meet the approval of the critical constituency and with credit to himself. On the 15th of July, 1898, he passed away at the age of fifty-six years. His children were three in number, as follows. Albert, who is employed in the epnsion [sic] office at Topeka, Kansas, is a graduate of the Parsons Business College; Mary, who died at thirteen years, and Joseph, the subject of this sketch.
Joseph Martin has been responsible for the conduct of the family homestead for four years and he has proven himself a worthy successor to his lamented father.
The Martins have performed an important share in the development of their county. Their industrial achievements, alone, are largely a guarantee of their character and standing, but when their personal virtues are also credited to their account their enviable record forms a bright spot upon the pages of their country's history. . [Source: History of Neosho and Wilson Counties, Kansas, Pub. by L. Wallace Duncan, Fort Scott, Kansas, Monitor Printing Co., 1902; tr. by VB]
DR. ARTHUR HENRY McCREIGHT
DR. ARTHUR HENRY McCREIGHT was born and reared in Illinois, and soon after graduating from Rush Medical College of Chicago came to Fort Dodge. He has had a very successful career in his profession, stands high among his professional brethren in the various organizations and is a citizen who has proved his usefulness and his capacity for service in many ways.
Doctor McCreight was born on a farm in Mercer County, Illinois, July 25, 1866, a son of John Willis and Rebecca (Nevius) McCreight and a grandson of Mathew McCreight and William I. Nevius. Both grandfathers were born in Ohio. Mathew McCreight spent his last years in Iowa, where he became a farmer. William I. Nevius moved to Illinois during the 1830's and was a pioneer in the north central section of th estate. The old block house used for the protection of the pioneers against the Indians was still in use at Monmouth when he reached there. he acquired land for himself and also made purchases for some friends back in Ohio, and when they failed to join him he had more land than he knew what to do with.
John Willis McCreight was born in Ohio. He moved to Illinois in 1854 and married his wife in Mercer County, where she was born. They lived on their farm until 1890, when they took up their residence at Viola, Illinois. John Willis McCreight always showed a public spirited attitude toward his home community and was postmaster in his home town, was an active Republican and a member of the United Presbyterian Church. Of the eight children six are living.
Arthur Henry McCreight was an Illinois farm boy, attended district schools and the academy at Aledo and prepared for work as an educator in the Illinois Normal University at Normal. He was a teacher for six years, and teaching gave him the means to complete his medical education. In 1897 he was graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago, and began practice in Fort Dodge. He has been satisfied with the service he could render in the general field of medicine and surgery, though he has long enjoyed a very high reputation for his skill in obstetrics. He is a member of the Webster County, Iowa State and American Medical Associations. During the World war he enlisted and was commissioned a captain and was on duty at the Base Hospital at Camp Dodge until honorably discharged on March 1, 1919. For three terms Doctor McCreight was coroner of Webster County.
He married in November, 1899, Miss Margaret Cromwell, of Dows, Iowa, where she was reared and educated. Her father was James Cromwell. Mrs. McCreight died in 1920. In 1926 Doctor McCreight married Mrs. Mabel S. Johnston, of Webster County. Doctor McCreight has two children, Clifford, an adopted son, who is now manager of the Greyhound Bus Line at Sudberry, Pennsylvania. His daughter Rachel, is the wife of James I. Dolliver, one of Fort Dodge's prominent attorneys. Doctor McCreight is one of the trustees of the Congregational Church, is a York Rite Mason, a member of the Rotary Club and in politics, a Republican. [Src: "A Narrative History of The People of Iowa", 1931]
D. J. NOBLE
D. J. Noble is the ninth child of a family of twelve children. He was born May 1, 1818, in Fayette county, Indiana. His parents, Lewis and Elizabeth (Burgess) Noble, came to Mercer county, Illinois, in 1835, and settled on Sec. 16, in New Boston township, where they lived until their death. His father gave D. J. seventy acres of Sec. 16, and to this he added the N. W. 1/4 of Sec. 22 and the N. E. 1/4 of Sec. 21. He has a large and commodious residence and is comfortably situated. Besides making a competency for himself he has helped each of his sons to a good home. He has the benefits of only a common school education, owing to the many disadvantages afforded in youth. He has been engaged in farming from boyhood up. He has always taken an active part in temperance, and has been a member of the Methodist church since 1840. He has held all the offices in his church at various times. In politics he has always been a republican. He was married July 5, 1840, to Miss Sally Rader, daughter of Abraham and Catharine Rader. She was born March 4, 1818. They have had ten children, nine of whom are living: Melissa, married to Frederick Fleming; John N., married to Mary Hill, and lives in Dakota; Leroy, married to Miss Rachel Hollingsworth ; David L., dead ; Harvey, married to Miss Luella Bowden ; Nathan, married to Miss Alida Pryne ; Sarah E., married to J. A. Goding; Dora, married to Melvill Danford ; Robert, married to Miss Iola Holingsworth, and James, who lives at home with his parents. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
John Pratt, butcher, was born in Union county, Indiana, in 1829. He is the oldest son of Begin and Mary (Long) Pratt. His parents came to Mercer county in 1836, and are therefore among the earliest settlers of the county. He was engaged in farming and carpentering until 1876, since which time he has been engaged in the butcher's trade. In 1869 he joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of which body he has been a member ever since. He has held numerous offices in his lodge at various times. In politics he is a democrat. His father lived in Mercer county until June 6, 1880, when he was called away to a better land. His mother is still living at the age of seventy-five, and maintains good health. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
STANTON V. PRENTISS
Stanton V. Prentiss, farmer and stock raiser, was born in Meigs county, Ohio, May 10, 1826, and is the fifth child of Stanton and Susannah (Brookheart) Prentiss. His parents came west and settled at Warsaw, in Hancock county, where they remained until 1833. While living at that point, they were often compelled to leave their farm, and flee to Fort Edwards for safety from the Indians, as this was at the time when Black Hawk was making his raids up and down the Mississippi. In 1833 they came to Mercer county, where they have lived ever since, with the exception of a short time in Rock Island county, and two years spent in California. He has always been engaged in farming and raising stock, the latter very extensively. During the period between 1852 and 1857, he also ran a dry goods and grocery store. His means of attaining an education were very limited; however, he managed to get a common school education between the intervals of farming. He owns l,900 acres of land on Bay Island, all in one body and under fence, forming the largest pasture in the county, and the largest body owned by any one person. In politics he has always been a republican. He was married to Miss Hannah E. Creveston in May 1865. They have two children: Park and Don. They are both living arid at home with their parents. Mr. Prentiss' mother died in 1852 at New Boston, and his father in 1875. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
HENRY H. ROBERTS
Henry H. Roberts, lumber merchant, was born in England, August 11, 1819. He is next to the youngest child of James and Elizabeth Roberts, who came to America in 1828, landing at Boston, Massachusetts, where they lived until 1836. Mr. Roberts lived in Indiana two years before coming to Mercer county. He built a carding machine in New Boston township, which was the first in the county. This he ran for two years, when he removed to Eliza township, entered 120 acres of land and bought eighty acres more, and went to farming. He remained in this business until 1856, when he went to New Boston and built a large three-story brick carriage and wagon factory in partnership with Joe Graham, forming the firm of Graham & Roberts. They continued business until 1860, when Mr. Roberts bought Graham out. In 1861 Mr. Roberts went back to his farm, and farmed until 1865, when he went to Monmouth, Illinois, and started a sash, door and blind factory and planing-mill, which he ran until 1869, when his mill was burned down. Returning to New Boston, he refitted the building he had formerly occupied as a factory, for a hotel, the Roberts House, which he ran until 1875, since which time he has been engaged in the lumber trade. On March 20, 1845, he was married to Miss Mary Baker, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Baker. She was born December 7, 1826, and died June 16, 1858. He was marrried again September 29, 1859, to Miss Maria J. Dunn, daughter of Thomas and Nancy Dunn. By his first marriage he had six children: Elizabeth H. (married to Albert Denison), Marshall, Albert (dead), Harriet (dead), Clarence (dead), Charles S. (dead). By his last marriage he has two children: Richard H. and Ernest. Morally speaking, he has always been an active temperance man. Politically he was a republican until 1872, when he joined the greenback party, to which party he has ever since strictly adhered. . [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
JACOB H. SWOFFORD
Jacob H. Swofford was born in Henry county, Indiana. April 8, 1829. His parents were born in North Carolina. He came to Mercer county, Illinois, August 10, 1837. He was a common laborer for a time, and then learned the printing business, which he followed for ten years. Since leaving off the printing business he has engaged in various avocations. He was married November 16, 1854, to Annie, daughter of John and Mary Shuff. They are the parents of eleven children, eight of whom are living. The family have resided in the village of New Boston for many years. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
LEE R. WILLITS
After residing and practicing productive interest in several state, and finding the conditions of life more or less agreeable in all, Lee R. Willits, of Eagle county, Colorado, a prosperous and progressive ranch and stock man living near Basalt, finds this state the best of all and is ardently devoted to its interests and the enduring welfare of its people He is a native of New Boston, Mercer county, Illinois, born on December 23, 1848, and the son of John E. and Mary C. (Frick) Willits, the father born in Indiana and the mother in Pennsylvania. In the early years of their married life they located in Illinois, where for a number of years the father was engaged in the drug business at New Boston and Keithsburg, but on account of the state of his health he found it necessary to have an outdoor life, and accordingly he turned his attention to farming. He thereupon moved to Kansas, and after living in that state seven years changed to Texas, where he continued in the same occupation, and where his death occurred on December 1, 1890. He was a Royal Arch Mason in fraternal life, and a strong Democrat in politics. He took an active part in local affairs and attained prominence in the public life of his community, serving as county commissioner in Illinois and also in Kansas a number of years. He was a Presbyterian in church connection. Of his seven children six are living: Lee R.; Clarence W., of Seaton, Illinois; Ada H., wife of the late A.J. Robinson, of Aspen, this state; Katie, wife of George Loomis, of La Porte, Oklahoma; Frederick E., of Canon City, Colorado; and Edith, wife of Dr. Virgil Clark of Basalt, with whom the mother makes her home. Her father, Frederick Frick, helped to make the state constitution of Illinois in 1848, and took a leading part in public affairs in other ways. Lee R. Willits attended the district schools near his home, as country boys do who have to work on the farm, and there received a limited scholastic training. He remained at home and worked in the interest of his parents until he became twenty-two years of age, at which time, in 1870, he began farming independently in Kansas, where he remained until 1873, then moved to Texas, where he lived fourteen years engaged in farming and raising stock. In 1887 he came to Colorado very much handicapped by circumstances, and secured employment as foreman on the ranch of Gillespie & Robinson on the Roaring Fork, seven miles and a half east of Carbondale. After passing some years in this engagement he bought the ranch on which he now lives, which comprises one hundred and sixty acres, one hundred and forty-five acres being under cultivation. Here he raises enormous crops of hay of excellent quality and potatoes in abundance, and also carries on a thriving business in cattle and horses. He is a stanch Democrat in political allegiance, and as such has served six years as county commissioner. He was also a member of the thirteenth legislature of the state, ad is now and has been for years a member of the Eljebel school board, a capacity in which he also served in Texas. Fraternally he belongs to the order of Odd Fellows. On February 25, 1874, he was married to Miss Cornelia A. Robinson, a native of Henderson county, Illinois, and daughter of Elhanen and Phoebe A. (Moore) Robinson. Her father was born in Kentucky and her mother in Indiana. They located in Illinois when young and later moved to Kansas, then to Texas and finally to Colorado, settling in the vicinity of Basalt. They were farmers and members of the Methodist church, and the father gave a steadfast and loyal support to the Democratic party. Their offspring numbered seven, four of whom are living: Emma, wife of D.S. Shehi, of Taylor Park, Colorado; Sarah, wife of H.B. Gillespie, of Denver; Mrs. Willits, of Eagle county; and Charles M., of Pendleton, Oregon. The mother died in 1886 and the father in November, 1898. The Willits household has been blessed and brightened with four children: Pearl E., wife of William Shanks, of Leadville; Irene E., living at home; Marcia E., wife of I.H. Mitchell, of Basalt; and Bramlett, living under the parental roof. [Source: Progressive Men of Western Colorado, Publ 1905. Transcribed by Kim Mohler]
MILTON L. WILLITS
Milton L. Willits, farmer, son of Reuben and Mary Willits, was born in Wayne county, Indiana, November 13, 1826. He came west with his grandfather, Isaac Willits, in the spring of 1836, and settled in New Boston township, where he has lived ever since, with the exception of three years spent in California. He crossed the plains in the summer of 1850, and returned in the spring of 1853 to New Boston, and started a lumber yard in partnership with Anderson Kirlin. They continued business until fall, when they dissolved, and Mr. Willits started a grocery store, which he continued till the spring of 1854, when he traded his grocery in part payment on seventy-six acres of land five miles northeast of New Boston, where he has been engaged in farming ever since. He was married October 25, 1854, to Miss Sarah J. Kirlin. They have had ten children: Horace G., born July 31, 1855; Mary L., December 23, 1856 ; Homer C, January 8, 1858; Lavina H., March 25, 1859; Elias M., December 13, 1860; William R., September 23, 1862; Minnie D., March 3, 1864; Frederick, June 22, 1866 ; Ruth, November 6, 1867 ; Sarah J., February 8, 1869. His wife died February 13, 1869; Mary L., October 31, 1857; Sarah J., March 17, 1869; Ruth, August 26, 1869; Frederick, January 5, 1873; William R., October 25, 1879. His oldest son, Horace G., married Miss Ida McGrew; Clinton, to Miss Adda Kiddoo ; Lavina to Levi Lewis. The other two remain at home with their father. Mr. Willits' education was limited in youth but improved by study in later life. He was one of the pupils of Simeon P. Smith, one of the first and best teachers of the county. His early youth was spent in farming until eighteen years of age, when he learned the carpenter's trade, at which he worked for six years. He has always been an active temperance man. In politics he is a republican. He has at present 513 acres of Mercer county's best land situated in New Boston township. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
DR. THOMAS WILLITS
Of the representative men of Mercer county the name of none occupies a more honorable place in the list than that of Dr. ThomasWillits, of New Boston. He was a pioneer in his profession as well as a pioneer settler, and has been a practitioner fifty-six years. His nativity was in Pickaway county, Ohio, in 1805. It was there his parents, James and Amy (Allison) Willits, who had emigrated from Pennsylvania, were married. At the age of twenty he started out from home with the design of going to St. Louis, but stopped at Montezuma, Parke county, Indiana, where lie began the practice of medicine. In three or four years he returned to his father's home, which had meantime been removed to Richmond, Indiana. He remained there till 1837, and then came west and settled in Warren, now Henderson, county, this state, on the line between that and Mercer. There he entered 500 acres of land, which property is now known as the Mickey farm. Having enclosed a large tract, he gave his attention for a few years to raising stock for market; but after hauling to New Boston he could obtain only $150 per hundred for the hind quarters of neat animals and $1 for fore quarters, while pork brought but $1.25, all in store pay, and corn could not be sold at any price. Not pleased with this state of things, in 1840 he decided to quit farming, and moved to New Boston and continued his practice. In 1850 he was elected a representative to the legislature from Mercer county and served one term. While a member of that body the charter for the Illinois Central railroad was passed, and he made a strenuous but futile effort to fix the percentage which the company should be obliged to pay into the state treasury at ten per cent of their gross earnings, instead of seven. The doctor voted first for president for John Quincy Adams, but fell into line with the opposite party in the Jackson campaign of 1828, and since that time has been an old school democrat. In controversy he has upheld the principles of his party, but never with hope of office or aspiration for it. With the exception of a division of the Sons of Temperance, which he organized in New Boston, he has not been connected with any of the secret orders which are now so common. To the extent that his example could give force to his convictions, he has encouraged the temperance cause, and under no circumstances could he ever have fallen to such depths of humiliation as to countenance or tolerate drunkenness or any patronage of the rum traffic. Dr. Willits was married in early life to Mrs. Catherine Libby, formerly Miss Ainsworth, and five children were the fruits of this union. The eldest, Elmira, died in infancy; Leroy lives in New Boston township; Viola, who was the wife of Russell Scudder, died over twenty years ago; Celeste is now Mrs. William A. Anderson, of Chicago; and Kate is the wife of Thomas Manning of the same city. We regret our inability to give a more extended notice of one who has figured so largely in the useful affairs of this locality, and who, by universal consent, has been of so much service and benefit to the public at large as Dr. Willits. A man of liberal education and correct understanding, whose knowledge covers a wide range, Mercer county has never had a better type of the old school practitioner and gentleman than he. As a conversationalist he is fluent, entertaining and instructive, with pleasing powers of description. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
WILLIAM A. WILSON
William A. Wilson, farmer, was born in Shelby county, Indiana, August 18, 1831. The family removed to Mercer county in the fall of 1834, and settled in Eliza township. Mr. Wilson's education was limited to a common school, as in those early times the advantages offered were few and rude; however, he acquired considerable of a business education, especially in arithmetic, as that was a favorite study of his. When twenty-two years of age he commenced farming for himself on a small scale. His father wanted him to take a horse when starting out, but he refused to do so; but by persuasion he accepted a ten dollar bill. He rented three years, when he found he had money enough to buy eighty acres of land lying in New Boston township. He lived with his brother-in-law, Richard Shields, and tilled his small farm until 1857, when he was married to Miss Kate Woodward, daughter of Joel and Keziah Woodward. A year after his marriage he sold his farm for $2,500, and bought another in Mercer township for $3,500, where he lived until 1861. Mr. Wilson has always dealt considerably in live stock while farming. In 1861, in response to the country's call for troops, Mr. Wilson enlisted in the 102d Vol. Inf., and was elected second lieutenant of Company K, and before going into active service was promoted to first lieutenant. His first engagement with the enemy was at Gallatin, Tennessee, after which he was elected captain of his company by a unanimous vote. Returning home from the war in 1864, he sold his farm in Mercer township for $7,000, and again bought a farm of 120 acres in New Boston township, which he has increased to 420 acres in New Boston township, and 402 acres in Eliza. They have had eleven children: Jay, Ed., Dick, Ressa, Gen. Phil. Sheridan, John S., Harvey, Louie, Grace, Bert. M. and Frank M. Grace and Louie are deceased. The rest are in good health and at home with their parents. Mr. Wilson's mother still survives at the age of eighty-seven, and is in good health. [HISTORY OF MERCER COUNTY, Chicago: H. H. Hill and Company, Publishers, 1882 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney]
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