PIATT COUNTY, IL
THOMAS A. CHURCHILL.
Thomas A. Churchill is an extensive stock-raiser and dealer and owns and operates a splendid farm of five hundred and eighty-three acres on sections 28 and 29, Garden Grove township. His birth occurred near Springfield, in Sangamon county, Illinois, in 1856, and he is a son of Joel and Lucretia (Bondurant) Churchill, both natives of Kentucky, although descended from New England stock. The ancestry in the Churchill line is traced back to England. The Bondurants were originally French Hugenots but about 1687, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, emigrated to Virginia. When a boy, Joel Churchill accompanied his parents to Sangamon county, Illinois, and there his marriage occurred. He was a farmer and was well known and highly respected in his community. In 1865 he removed with his family to Douglas county, Kansas, settling between Lawrence and Ottawa. In the spring of 1874 they returned to Illinois and became residents of Piatt county. Mr. Churchill's political allegiance was given to the republican party and he and his wife were devoted members of the Christian church. Both passed away in Piatt county, his demise occurring in the spring of 1902 when he was seventy-six years of age, and that of his wife in January, 1896, when she was seventy years old. To their union were born six sons and five daughters, of whom our subject is the sixth in order of birth, and all of whom are living, residing in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.
Thomas A. Churchill was reared in Illinois and Kansas and received his education in the public schools. He began his independent career in Illinois and although he had no capital, he was energetic and determined and soon began to prosper financially. Later he removed to Wayne county, Iowa, where he farmed for five years, and on the 18th of November, 1908, he removed to Garden Grove, Decatur county. He remained there until October 18, 1909, when he settled upon his present farm of five hundred and eighty-three acres on sections 28 and 29, Garden Grove township. His property is not only extensive, but is well improved, and he is meeting with marked success as a raiser of high grade hogs and cattle.
Mr. Churchill was married in Kansas to Miss Mary Browning, a native of Indiana, who accompanied her parents to the Sunflower state in 1868. Her father was a farmer and blacksmith and took considerable interest in public affairs, serving at one time as assessor of Franklin county, Kansas. His wife passed away in the faith of the Methodist Episcopal church and he is also deceased, both dying in Kansas. They were the parents of four daughters and three sons, of whom two have passed away. To Mr. and Mrs. Churchill have been born six children, the eldest of whom died in infancy. Olive L. graduated from a high school in Illinois and later attended Drake University. She is now teaching in the Des Moines public schools. Vera Pearl is also a high-school graduate and has taught school, although she is now at home. Martha Elizabeth is at home. Clifton Bondurant, who operates part of the home farm, married Miss Louise Gehlhaar, and they have a daughter, Lorene. Thomas Arthur is also at home. Mr. Churchill is a republican and is now serving as a member of the Garden Grove township board of trustees. Fraternally he belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America and to the Royal Neighbors, and his wife is likewise a member of the latter order. Their daughter Pearl is a member of the P. E. O. Sisterhood. Mr. Churchill has made many improvements upon his farm since it came into his possession and has but recently erected a large barn, which replaces one destroyed by fire a year ago, the building with its contents, including five horses, being an entire loss. Although he began his career empty handed, he has accumulated more than a competence, and his success is a source of justifiable pride to him. He has also gained the sincere respect and esteem of all who know him, for his business methods have at all times been open and honorable, and he has manifested a praiseworthy consideration for the rights of others. [Source: "History of Decatur County, Iowa, and Its People" By J. M. Howell, Heman Conoman Smith; Published by S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1915 - Submitted by K. Torp]
WALTER E. CONNELLY of Salina has had some unusual experience as an educator in the western part of the state. As a boy he attended one of the old dugout schoolhouses of Kansas, and he spent seventeen years teaching, concluding that service with a term as superintendent of instruction in Saline County. Since retiring from that office he has founded and is manager of the Salina Collection Agency, the first and only exclusive collection agency in the city. He represents a family that during the past century have by successive stages progressed half way across the American continent from New England to Western Kansas. His grandfather, Alexander W. Connelly, was born in Massachusetts, and in 1811 went out to the extreme western frontier, along the Wabash River in Southern Indiana, and secured a tract of government land, now occupied by the City of Terre Haute. Robert W. Connelly, father of Walter E., was born on that land and within the present limits of Terre Haute, August 16, 1831. In 1860 he removed to Illinois, where he was a farmer until 1883. In that year he went to Nebraska, spent three years as a farmer in Thayer County, and in 1886 brought his family to Thomas County, Kansas. He homesteaded land there and for ten years was postmaster of DeMunn, and also a justice of the peace. In 1898 he removed to Sherman County, where he died September 20, 1905. He was an active member of the Christian Church and assisted in organizing the first church of that denomination in Thomas County. In 1854 Robert W. Connelly married Miss Catherine Young, who was born in Kentucky September 21, 1833. She died in Thomas County, Kansas, March 20, 1886. They became the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters: Rhoda, born in 1855 and died in 1883; Henry B., born in 1856; Charles E., born in 1858 and died in 1907; Julia, born in 1861 and died in 1881; James H., born in 1863; Mary, born in 1865 and died in 1881; Emma, born in 1868 and died in 1915; William A., born in 1872 and died in 1914; Walter E.; and Sadie R., born in 1879. Walter E. Connelly was born January 22, 1876, in a log house on a farm in Piatt County, Illinois. He was still a child when his father moved to the West and was ten years of age when the family located in Kansas in 1886. He continued his education in the public schools of this state, and for a time was a student in a dugout in Thomas County. In 1897, at the age of twenty-one, he began his career as a teacher. His first school was taught in a sod house in Sherman County. Altogether he taught seventeen years, seven years in rural schools and nine years in the towns of Waldo, Bunker Hill, Luray, Salina and Sylvan Grove. In 1910 Mr. Connelly was elected on the democratic ticket as superintendent of public instruction of Saline County, and filled that position two years. It was in 1914 that he established the Salina Collection Agency, and he has since developed that to a profitable business and an important service in the community. On July 6, 1902, at Monument, Kansas, occurred his marriage with Miss, Lizzie Belle O'Brien. Her parents were Thomas and Susan O'Brien, her father a native of Maryland and her mother of Ireland. Mrs. Connelly was born near Lincoln, Nebraska, April 1, 1878. Mr. and Mrs. Connelly have one child, Mildred Lillian. She was born May 22, 1903, at Hays, Kansas. At that time Mr. Connelly was a student during the first year after the opening of the Kansas State Normal at Hays, and his daughter Mildred has the distinction of being the first child born to a student in that institution. [Source: "A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans", By William Elsey Connelley, Published by Lewis, 1918. Submitted by K. Torp]
Mr. and Mrs. I. Davenport
Back in June, 1884, this county acquired a citizen from Piatt County, Illinois. As one of the pioneer farmers and cattlemen of Wilbarger County, (TX) he acted the part of a good citizen toward developing this western country. His name was I. Davenport. Mr. Davenport died July 26, 1903. Surviving him at his death were his wife and five children, four boys and one daughter. They are: D. H. (Dave) Davenport, S. C. (Sol) Davenport, G. H. (George) Davenport, S. I. (Steve) Davenport, and Mrs. J. L. (Carrie) Littlefield.
In the early days of this county, Mr. Davenport served the county two terms as a commissioner for Precinct No. 2. In 1886, which was a year for a general election, the voting place was at the home of Mr. Davenport, six miles west of Vernon, and a record shows the following voters participated: George Von Emans, D. H. Reece, J. W. Black, Christian Streit, Fred Streit, Christian Krebbs, Rudolph Hoffman, M. L. Hutchinson, Jim Beard, W. E. Beard, G. W. Mears, F. M. Duckworth, George Huschmann, S. C. Russell, J. W. Smith, I. Davenport, J. L. Kirkwood, George Kempf, J. M. Morgan, W. C. Jordan, L. A. Rodgers, J. R. Rodgers, George Upfold, R. D. Rector, Jay Probasco, A. J. Haney, G. W. Creed, E. A. Upfold, George Probasco and Elijah Lowe. Some of the trials, trouble, joys and tribulations the Davenport family endured when they first settled in Wilbarger County are told in an interesting style by one of the sons of the family, S. C. Davenport. He writes:
"In June, 1884, my father came to Wilbarger County and filed on two sections of land, six miles southwest of Vernon. The following winter we moved from Deland, Piatt County, Illinois.
"At that time Wichita Falls was the nearest railroad point-with no town between there and Vernon. he old Mobeetie freight road ran from there and the stopping places were stage stands, where the U. S. mail drivers changed horses. One north of Iowa Park was called Toksana and one east of Harrold, Cottonwood State Stand. These stands were dug-outs, with corrals for the freighters to use while camping.
"Wilbarger County was then a vast prairie-in fact there were only two or three houses in sight from Wichita Falls to Vernon. The country did not settle much until after the railroad was built in '86. Vernon was very small; two general merchandise stores, a drug store and four saloons.
"My father began preparations for farming and stock raising at once. While our home was built and the place improved, we lived in a half dug-out on Paradise Creek. Most of the land was plowed and cultivated with ox teams. The same were used for freighting, hauling wood and all kinds of transportation.
"Farming proved to be rather hard for a few years-on account of drought, prairie dogs and range cattle. Being close to the old cattle trail, at times a trail herd would stampede and ruin a small crop almost as quickly as a Wilbarger sand storm. During the drought of '86 and '87, Wilbarger settlers had a hard time getting food and clothing. Men freighted, hauled bones, or worked on the railroad under construction.
"My father and I went to Fort Sill to work for the government among the Indians. (They were teaching the Comanche Indians how to farm). It took us five days to make the trip with oxen. After being stuck in the mud in Red River for several hours, some of Waggoner's cowboys came along and pulled us out with their ponies and lariats. When we arrived at Wolf Creek, we found Lon Byars and Ed Bennett, with their fathers, there for the same purpose-to make a little 'chuck money.'
"After about eighteen months' drought and no feed nor grass for cattle, we fed prickly pears-after burning off the thorns. Thousands of prairie dogs starved to death that winter.
"In '85 the Fourth of July picnic was held in the school yard, with a big basket dinner. Cowboys, ranchmen, nesters, saloon men and Indians attended. Such sports as sack race, potato race, climbing a greased pole and horse races were given. Ed McHugh, our present county auditor, won the potato race.
"On Christmas the same year, a Christmas tree was held in an empty store building on the northwest corner of the square. Everyone sat on the counters down each side of the room. The tree was plentifully supplied with red bandanas for the men and shawls for the women. Judge Orr officiated as 'Santa Claus.' When the performance was nearly over a band of cowboys began to ride around the building and shoot. The sheriff and some Rangers made for the door, but got out too late to catch the offenders. In those days that was their way of leaving town, but it broke up the Christmas tree.
"The first churches were held in a one-room school house on the public school site across the street from the present Baptist Church. All denomination held sessions in the same building.
"Game was plentiful at that time. The prairies were covered with antelope, deer, wild turkeys, wild chickens and quail. Fruit was very scarce-wild plums and pie melons being out only varieties.
"Though there were wild horses and coyotes in great numbers, we found only the bones of the buffalo here. Huge piles of these were over all this western country. Some people made their living by gathering these from over the plains and shipping them. Great trains of wagons could be seen on the freight road from Mobeetie to Wichita Falls. Here the loads were shipped to northern points to be made into fertilizer. The advantage in numbers was in helping each other across the rivers, as there were no bridges then. Each team would consist of six or eight yolk of oxen, or about that many spans of mules. On the return, these wagons would take back supplies for Mobeetie, Clarendon or several ranches farther west." (Source: Charles P. Ross, "Early-day History of Wilbarger County". Vernon, Tex: Vernon, Times, 1933; transcribed by Susan Geist)
WILLIAM NELSON Du VALL. M. D. Reared and educated in the lllinios corn belt. Doctor Du Vall graduated from medical college twenty years ago, and his active career as a physician and surgeon has been spent in Kentucky. He is one of the leading men of his profession in Webster County, and for many years has carried on an extensive practice at Sebree. Doctor Du Vall was born at Monticello in Piatt County, Illinois. August 3, 1873, a son of Jeremiah E. and Rosaltha Hepzibah (Johnson) Du Vall, the latter of Irish ancestry, while his father was of French stock.
The great-grandfather of Doctor Du Vall came to this country from France. Both parents were natives of Ohio, Jeremiah Du Vall of Piqua County, but they were married in Illinois, and were substantial farming people of Piatt County. Jeremiah Du Vall died February 18, 1920, at the age of eighty years, eight months and nine days, and the widowed mother is now living with her son Dr. Du Vall at the age of seventy-five. William N. Du Vall is the youngest of four sons, and there were also four daughters in the family. He spent his life to the age of twenty-three on his father's Illinois farm, was educated in the local schools, and prepared for his profession with a three years' course in the Georgia Medical College at Atlanta, graduating April 4, 1900. Six days later he located at Beech Grove, Kentucky, but after gaining some recognition as a promising young physician he left in the fall of that year and going to Chicago took a polyclinic course in the Bennett Medical College and pursued post-graduate studies in Rush Medical College. With this additional technical equipment Doctor Du Vall returned to Kentucky and resumed his practice at Beech Grove until June 22, 1907. Then, on October 26, 1907, he located at Sebree, and in that community has found many opportunities for professional service, and is a man of the highest standing not only as a physician but as a citizen. He is a member of the Webster County and Kentucky State Medical Associations, and is active in both organizations. Doctor Du Vall is a Knight Templar Mason and Shriner, an Odd Fellow, a republican voter and a member of the Christian Church. On June 15, 1905, he married Daley Tilford. Her father was Dr. F. P. Tilford of Nebo, Kentucky. Doctor Du Vall lost his wife on May 27, 1919. She was the mother of two children, a daughter, Ora, and a son, William Maurice Du Vall. [Source: "History of Kentucky", By Charles Kerr, William Elsey Connelley, Ellis Merton Coulter; Published by The American Historical Society, 1922 - Submitted by K. Torp]
FRANK L. GREGORY
Gregory, Frank L, White Bear Lake (MN). Office 30 W 6th st St Paul. Manufacturers' agent. Born De 31, 1858 in Piatt county Ill, son of Albert G and Martha M (Linnell) Gregory. Married June 6, 1883 to Mary A Coburn. Educated in public schools Bement Ill and Indianapolis. Engaged as freight clk P C & St L Ry 1876-77; clk in auditor's office and trav auditor I B & W R R 1878-83; gen agent for same at Indianapolis 1883-86; in retail coal business Omaha 1886-91; agent for Philadelphia & Reading Coal &Iron Co at Omaha 1891-99; same at St Paul 1899 to date. Sec F L Bosworth Co Minneapolis. Member Commercial Club. [Little Sketches of Big Folks in Minnesota. Publ. 1907 Transcribed by Nancy Overlander]
JOSHUA B. SPRAGUE, M.D., Springfield, Illinois, was born in Washington county, Ohio, January 14, 1820, fourteen miles above Marietta, on the right bank of the Muskingum river. Hie first occupation was working on a farm, and was afterwards flat-boating, steam-boating, peddling books, and merchandising, until he was twenty years of age. Desiring more education, he attended College, at Beverly, Ohio. He was married at twenty-three years of age, to Miss V. F. Martin, of Coal Run, Washington county, Ohio. In 1848, went to Elizabethtown, Indiana, where he was engaged in the drug business, and remained about four years; on account of the failing health of his wife, he returned to Beverly, where he read medicine with Dr. Ross. In 1866, he went to Marietta, Ohio, where he continued the reading of medicine; in the years of 1862-3, attended lectures at the Cincinnati Medical College. The Doctor practiced in various parts of Pike and Christian counties previous to coming to Springfield, and during the years of 1868-9, he attended the Rush Medical College, at Chicago, Illinois, where he graduated; and in 1872, he went to Monticello, Piatt county, where he practiced previous to coming to Sangamon county, Illinois, where he is now engaged in the practice of medicine. The Doctor makes a specialty of chronic diseases, and warrants a cure in all cases of epilepsy. [Source: "History of Sangamon County, Illinois: Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages and Townships ... Portraits of Prominent Persons, and Biographies of Representative Citizens." 1881 - Submitted by K. Torp]
HENLEY C. WELLS
Upon a farm on section 13, Blue Ridge township, resides Henley C. Wells who is one of the progressive agriculturists of the community. He was born August 16, 1857, in Knoxville, Tennessee, a son of John B. and Mary Elizabeth Wells. The father was born in the year 1837 in Knox County, Tennessee, and became a farmer by occupations, owning about one hundred and fifty acres of land in his native state. At the time of the Civil war he became a member of the Ninth Tennessee Cavalry. Being taken ill with typhoid fever, as soon as he was able to be moved he was sent to his home. Our subject, who was then a but a boy, got a horse and together the father and son rode the horses to a nearby camp of soldiers. When the soldiers saw the boy they caught him in their arms and passed him from one to the other, so glad were they again to see a boy, having long separated from their own homes and family ties by the war. The country had been devastated by the ravages of war and John B. Wells, who was in very comfortable circumstances prior to the outbreak of hostilities, was left almost penniless at the close of the long conflict. His wife had received thirty thousand dollars in Confederate money from General Lee for damage done their property by the Southern army, but the father was only able to realize about twenty-five dollars on the entire amount.
Henley C. Wells started out for himself at the age of twenty years by working at the carpenter's trade. For this he received eight dollars per month. Later he was paid a salary of twenty-five dollars a month for working part of the time in a store and a part of the time on a farm. He resolved to seek his fortune north of the Ohio River in 1880 and removed to Greencastle, Indiana whence he afterward went to Mahomet, Champaign county, where he worked for two years for a man by the name of Smith.
In the year 1883 Mr. Wells was united in marriage to Miss Lida Pittman and their marriage was blessed with four children: Lillie May, who died at the age of four years; Nora Etta, who is the wife of R. A. Robinson, a resident of Mansfield; Ethel Marie, who is at home: Harrison, who is at home and is assisting in the operation of the farm.
Mr and Mrs. Wells now own one hundred acres of land on section 13, Blue Ridge township, constituting one of the valuable farms of the community. He improved the house and barn in the spring of 1903, and has planted an orchard of eighty trees, in fact, he has added all modern equipments and accessories to his place, which is now a desirable property and one on which he is realizing a good return from his investments. He gives the greater part of his attention to the raising of grain, but to some extent also raises cattle and hogs.
In his fraternal relations Mr. Wells is a Mason, holding membership with the lodge in Mansfield, and in politics he is a Republican, giving an earnest support to the principles of the party. His wife belongs to the Methodist Church, and both are well known and highly respected people of this community, enjoying the warm regard of many friends. They have lived here for twenty years, and throughout this period the circle of their friends has steadily increased as the circle of their acquaintance has widened.
["Past and present of Piatt County, Illinois:together with biographical sketches of many prominent and influential citizens." Chicago:S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 103 - Submitted by Muriel Wells White]
Charles E. Wetherall was born in Piatt County, Illinois, March 8, 1874, and was ten years of age when brought to Pratt County, Kansas. He grew up on the old homestead, acquired an education in the rural schools, and remained at home assisting his father in farming operations until he was twenty- five years of age. He then began farming for himself but in 1901 sought a larger field for his enterprise at Cunningham. Here he bought the general merchandise store of Elder & Simonson. It was a comparatively small business, and was acquired for $6,000. Today it is one of the leading department stores of Kingman County. They occupy floor space of 5,000. square feet with basement of similar size. The store is on Main Street and is conducted under the name of Wetherall Brothers. These brothers also own the electric light plant, which supplies Cunningham with electricity for lighting and power. Mr. Wetherall built a modern home in Cunningham in 1907 and he also owns the building in which the store is conducted. Politically he is an independent democrat. He has served as a member of the city council and has held other town offices, and is past noble grand of Cunningham Lodge No. 431, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In 1899 at Pratt, Kansas, Mr. Wetherall married Miss Addie Jenkins, daughter of J. C. and Louise (Howald) Jenkins. Her parents reside at Cunningham, her father being a retired farmer and an old resident of this section of Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Wetherall have two children, Austin, born in 1901, and Roy, born in 1904. [Source: "A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans", By William Elsey Connelley, Published by Lewis, 1918. Submitted by K. Torp]
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