Putnam County Illinois Biographies, Sketches and Obituaries

Transcribed for Genealogy Trails by Nancy Piper unless otherwise noted.

The Record of Olden Times Biographical Department - Putnam County

From  "The  Record of Olden Times or Fifty Year on the Prairie" embracing sketches of the discovery, exploration and settlement of the country. by Spencer Elsworth,   Lacon, IL Home Journal Steam Printing Establishment Copyright Date MDCCCLXXX (1880)

Biographies, Sketches and Obituaries


James Allen  (Bio)

Andrew L. Anderson  (Bio)

James N. Anderson  (Bio)



Mrs. Isabel (Worrell) Ball

Mrs. Anne Barnhart  (Obit)

Andrew Beck (Bio)

Simon Beck  (Bio)

Mrs. Mildred A. Bonham (Bio)

Jefferson R. Boulware (Bio)

Abner Boyle (obit)


Eliza A. (Ham) Camp  (Bio)

Augustus Cassell (Obit)

James Carton   (Bio)

Cortlandt R. Condit (Obit



George Dent  (obit)

Thomas Dent (bio)

The Family of John Evans Dent  (Bio)

Francis B. Drake (Bio)

Captain G. Dunlavy  (obit)


Williamson Durley (obit)





Alice Ellen Gaylord (Bio)


Jeremiah Hartenbower  (obit)

Joel Haws  (obit)

Captain William Haws  (obit)

William Edward Hawthorne (Bio)

Hon. Joel Wilson Hopkins (Bio)


George Ish (bio)



William A. Kays (Bio)

George B. Keeler (Bio)

John A. Koontz (Bio)



William M. Laughlin

William M. Lauglin  (bio)

Samuel D. Laughlin (bio)

John Leech (bio)  



George A. McCormick (bio)


David B. Moore (bio)




Thomas Paxson (bio)

Amos T. Purviance  (obit)





Owen L. Savage (bio)

Thomas W. Sheperd

John F. Skeel (bio)

Lewis E. Skeel (bio)

Linus B. Skeel (bio)

Nathan Skeel (bio)

Ezekial Stacy  (bio)

Jacob Streamer (bio)


 James R. Taliaferro (bio)




Amos Wilson     (Bio)


J. B. Williamson    (Bio)


Thomas Paxson

(Sketch starts previous page - not copied) ...... February 25, 1854 (birth?).  His father, Thomas Paxson, Sr., was born in Londonn county, Virginia, December 14, 1801, and in early life learned and followed the shoemaker's trade, while later he worked in a paper mill at Wheeling, West Virginia.  Subsequently he removed to Ohio, where he carried on farming until his death.  He was married to Miss Sarah McCormick, who was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, in 1814.  he was born and reared in the Quaker church, but in later years belonged to no denomination.  He wife, however, was a member of the Methodist church.  She was his second wife, his first wife having been a Miss Morgan, of Cincinnatti, Ohio.  They had two children, both of whom died in infancy, and following the death of the mother, Thomas Paxson, Sr., wedded Miss McCormick, by whom he had ten children, four of whom are now living: William, who resides with his brother Thomas; Amos, who is living with near Magnolia, Putnam county; and Parven, a resident of Kansas.

Thomas Paxson of this review lived with his parents through the period of his minority, spending his youth on the home farm and acquiring a common-school education.  When twenty-five years of age he left his parent's home and came to Illinois, working by the month as a farm hand in Marshall county.  he later removed to Magnolia, Putnam county, and secured a clerkship in a store, where he was employed for about one year, and then resumed farming. While thus engaged he was elected to the office of sheriff of the county, and entered upon the duties of the position December 1, 1890. He served for four years and then conducted a hotel in Hennepin until 1898, when he was again elected county sheriff.  Four years later he was chosen by popular suffrage to the position of county treasurer.  It is a law that no man shall serve for two consecutive terms in the office of either treasurer or sheriff, and thus Mr. Paxson could not be nominated without a lapse of time, but in 1906 he was nominated for the third term for sheriff, and his popularity and ability as an officer leave little doubt as to the outcome of the election.

He was reared in the faith of the democracy, and his mature judgment has sactioned its policy and platform, and his elections therefore are all the greater compliment from the fact that Putnam is regarded as a republican county.  He has also served as township clerk of Magnolia township, filling the office for two years before elected sheriff the first time.  He was collector of Hennepin township for three years while in the sheriff's office and one year in the hotel. Later he served for four years, so that his incumbency in that position covered altogether eight years.  No official is free from mistakes, but any that Mr. Paxson may have made have been errors of judgment rather than an indication of incapability of infidelity.  On the contrary, people of the opposition party endorse his work and give him support at the ballot box, and his official record is altogether creditable.

Mr. Paxson was married in 1884 to Miss Alice Horton, a native of Magnolia and a daughter of N. C. Horton, an early settler of Putnam county.  Mr. and Mrs. Paxson now have five children; Edwin G., Sallie, Thomas, Milton and Florence, all yet at home, the eldest being in his twenty-first year.  Mr. Paxson is a valued member of the Woodmen, Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges, and he has in the county a wide acquaintance and qualities which render him very popular in political circles and private life.  He regards a public office as a public trust - and no trust repose in him was ever betrayed in the slightest degree.

Taken From the Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties
By John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne, Page 443
Printed by the Pioneer Publishing Company, Chicago, 1907

George Ish

February 28, 1878
Taken From the Henry Republican

The Peru Herald has a short sketch of the late George Ish of Putnam county. He was one of the oldest settlers of this part of the state, locating near Peoria in 1822, and near Granville in 1828. He was in the war of 1812, and was employed as a scout. He also held a captain's commission. He had much to do with the Indians of those time, gaining their confidence and good will. They entered the settlers cabins without ceremony, smoked their pipes in silence, accepted wheatever was given in the way of food, and departed as quietly as they came. His cabin was a double log house, as were most of the pioneer dwellings of those days. Mr. Ish lived to a good old age. He had several children who survived him, of whom Bazdel Ish still resides on the homestead.

James R. Taliaferro

Taken From the Lacon Home Journal - Reprinted in the Henry Republican
September 4, 1879

James R. Taliaferro, a prominent settler of Putnam county, lives one-half mile north of Putnam station, on the Peoria branch of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad. He was born in Clearmont county, Ohio, in 1810; his father being a soldier of the revolution, serving on the western frontier, and one of the intrepid band who, under Col. Clark, marched hundreds of miles through an unknown country swarming with hostile Indians, and captured Kaskaskia, and other posts held by the British, which have to freedom and free institutions the great northwest forever.

His mother was Rebecca Riddle, belonging to a family of noted Indian fighters. In one of those merciless raids so common in those days, the "station" was captured, and the inmates who were not killed on the spot were hurried off to Canada. The sufferings on the route were terrible, the well were loaded with plunder and those too feeble to stand the hardships, were butchered. Two of the brothers were adopted into the tribe and remained until men grown when they escaped and finally settled near Quincy, in this state, and became well known preachers of the Baptist persuasion.

About the year 1800 his father moved to Tremont county, Ohio, a heavily timbered region and opened a farm. The work of felling and burning the great trees was immense, and every member of his family was required to contribute such aid as he could give. When 15 years old disasters came upon the family and he was sent out to seek his own living, and hired himself to a farmer for $6 a month, then considered very fair wages. His opportunities for an education were limited to a few weeks schooling each winter, scraped together book learning enough to transact ordinary business quite satisfactorily.

When 19 years old he left home on the Ohio and went down the Mississippi to the vicinity of Memphis and engaged at chopping wood, getting 75 cents a cord, and easily cutting and piling three cords a day. In the spring he joined a party engaged in getting out timber for the New Orleans market, which they put into large rafts and floats down the river.

The swiftness of the current opposite the town made the landing of such unwieldly bodies difficult and dangerous. Several attempts were made, but the resistless river swept them past the city. The raft was so large and its momentum so great that no ordinary lines or posts to which they could attach availed to check its speed, and after floating down 70 miles without making a landing they despaired of doing so and abandoned it, and took passage on the Caroline, a government boat carrying supplied to troops engaged in the Black Hawk war.

At the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi, the boat landed and his first view of Cairo was had. The future city had but a single house (used for a tavern), and several warehouses, though there was a numerous population living in tents awaiting transportation. While here his funds gave out and he secured a situation at the tavern as a man of all work. There was much card playing going on, and one day he overlooked a game between a couple of professional gamblers and a greenhorn in which the latter was being badly fleeced. Opportunity offering soon after he privately cautioned him and was asked to take his place and play out the game. The other parties assenting, he sat down and won all their money.

Resuming his journey he came to Peoria, reaching there in 1832. West of Rome, at the foot of the bluff, an elder brother had settled some time previously, and with him he stayed until July, when he went back to Ohio, returning again in September.

In the spring of 1833 he married Charlotte Cleaveland and bought a place on Snachwine creek, near Moffitt's mill, and went to farming. Staid there until 1835, when he sold to Henry Pepper and moved to Putnam county, on the place he now occupies. The old cabin he built then still stands on lands belonging to John Williams. His nearest neighbor was Geo. Reeves, afterwards the noted outlaw, and the cabin he lived in may still be seen not far from Putnam station.

Reeves had three brothers, who preceded him to this country, their names being John, Terrell and Bill. They owned claims in the vicinity and sold one of them to to Lundsford Broaddus of Lacon, and he transferred it to Jesse C. Smith. Another claim was sold to Robert Davis - said to be the first real estate the latter ever owned, and on which he made his first "raise."

The Reeves brothers had no connection with their outlaw relative in his thieving operations, and returned to Indiana from whence they came before the latter began his career of rascality. They were believed to be honest men, but old Shabbona, at that time living on the bottoms above Snachwine station, had a number of ponies stolen, which were found concealed west of Henry where one of the brothers lived on the place afterwards owned by George Reeves. Shabbona took a sufficient number of his braves to overcome any possible opposition and drove them home.

Mr. Taliaferro is the oldest settler in Putnam county west of the river. On the west his nearest neighbor was John Boyd of Boyd's Grove, on the south Esq. Mallory, and on the north Jesse Perkins. The bane of the early settlers was ague and mosquitoes, and both were equally bad. Quinine was then as now the antidote of the first, and against the latter there was really no defense. They worried the life out of man and brute, and the only relief was found standing in smoke so dense as to be nearly suffocating.

Like all new countries there were privations encountered and hardships endured, but they were met in a manly spirit and overcome, and most of the early settlers look back on these times as the halcyon days of their existence.

Mr. and Mrs. Taliaferro had eight children born to them, five of whom have passed to the life beyond. Of their remaining children, two live in the vicinity and one in McLean county. Their old age is blessed with health and competence and they can look forward to the great change that comes to all with a reasonable assurance of having performed their duty here and with hopeful trust in the future.

Thursday, July 9, 1891

Thomas W. Sheperd

Thomas W. Sheperd was born in Mason Co. Kentucky in 1812 and departed this life, July 8, 1891, age nearly 79 years. At the age of 6 years, he removed with his parents to Indiana and from there at the age of 23, to this county, Putnam.

In 1844, he was married to Miss Katherine Hand. Of a family of 10 children, 7 are still living. He was received into the M.E. church at the age of 14. In 1844, he joined the True Weslyan as an ernest advocate of anti-slavery sentiments and was also an honest opposer of secret societies. A man of firm integrity as he was, he was respected by those even whom he opposed and was followed to his last resting place by a multitude who could not but respect him. His funeral was largly attended from the congregational church of which at his latter years he was a hardy and liberal supporter, his wife being a member. The pastor, A.M. Case preached an appropriate sermon ...... His remains were interned in the Union Grove cemetery there to rest until the last great day.

Amos T. Purviance

January 21, 1904

Passes away Thursday at 12:20 p.m. Jan. 14, 1904

Amos T. Purviance was born near Smithfield, Jefferson county, Ohio, March 6, 1823. At the age of 16 yearrs, he entered the office of the Steubenville Herald. Soon after learning the printer s trade, in connection with a cousin who was an attorney, he purchased the paper which they published for about a year and on selling out he came west. Previously Mr. Purviance was married Aug. 7, 1843, in Jefferson county, Ohio, to Miss Mary Ong. They came to Putnam county in the spring of 1847 and located on a farm and for seven years, he devoted himself to farming. In September 1853, he moved to Hennepin, where he clerked in E.F. Pulsifer s dry goods store, and in 1854 was elected sheriff of Putnam County, in which office he served for two years, and the following year was a member of the dry goods firm of Grable, Cowles & Purviance. In 1857 he was first elected County Clerk and was repeatedly re-elected until he had filled the office for 41 consecutive years. Aug. 7, 1895, Mr. Purviance and his estimable wife celebrated their golden wedding. His whole life, socially and politically, was singularly pure and lofty.  He joined the I.O.O.F. lodge meeting, Oct. 14, 1853, and has been a stalwart supporter of that body up to time of his death. Funeral services were conducted at teh home Sunday afternoon at two o clock, conducted by Rev. W.L. Douglas, and followed by services the the cemetery by the I.O.O.F. lodge, which were very impressive. Truly, one of Putnam county s able men has left us. The family are very grateful to all who kindly assisted them in the care and burial of their beloved father. Those present from abroad were Robt. Pettibone of Chicago, Hon A.W. Hopkins of Granville, John Swaney, Amos Wilson, Abel and Perry Mills, Juges Mills and McNabb, John Sutherland and wife of Magnolia and a large number of brother Odd Fellows from Henry, Granville and Bureau.

Jacob Streamer

Jacob Streamer, drug and variety store, Pontiac; familiarly known as "Uncle Jake Streamer;" he is one of the early settlers of Pontiac, having resided here since 1852; he was born on the 8th of Feb., 1818 in Williamsburg, Blair Co., Penn.; he was raised to the business of a tailor and came to Illinois in 1844 settling in Putnam Co., and opening a grocery store; he established the first Sunday school in Putnam Co.; in 1850 he came to Reading in this county where he remained two years, and then removed to Pontiac, when there were but six houses in the place, and opened a tailor shop; he acted as Postmaster two years, although the regular appointee was J. P. Garner; he has been Justice of the Peace twelve years. He was married April 14, 1853 to Miss Salina Sturman who was born in Virginia, Oct. 3, 1831; they have three children--Mary E., hattie E. and Francis M.

--Taken from The History of Livingston County Illinois Illustrated Chicago: Wm. Le Baron, Jr., & Co., 186 Dearborn Street 1878, Pontiac Township page 649

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