ELIZABETH FURBEE PURDY

From: “Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois Illustrated 1908, edited by Newton Bateman, LL. D. and Paul Selby, A. M., Volume II, Schuyler County”, edited by Howard F. Dyson, pages 908, a Reprinted by Stevens Publishing Company, Astoria, Illinois 61501, 1970, is sold by the Schulyer County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.

Purdy, Mrs. Elizabeth  -  Seventy years and more have come and gone since Mrs. Purdy first came to Schuyler County, for it was in 1837 that she arrived in what is now Frederick Township.  Though only nine years of age, already had her childish eyes beheld much of the country and already had the responsibilities of life fallen upon her tender form.  The children of the pioneers had no care-free existence.  Theirs it was to aid the older people in planting a home in the primeval wilderness, and her recollections of childhood bring back memories of laborious tasks; yet those were happy years and she recalls them now with unchanging delight.  Born in West Virginia February 3, 1828, she was a daughter of Alexander and Achsah (Bond) Furbee, also natives of the State.  The family migrated to Illinois in 1835 and took up land near Beardstown, Cass County, but two years later came to Schuyler County, where she grew to womanhood.  The first home of the family was a claim comprising the farm now owned by Charles K. Strong.  On that homestead Mrs. Furbee died in 1844.  Six years later the father traveled overland to California and began to prospect and mine, but ere success had rewarded his efforts, he died in the West in 1856.  Of his six children only two are now living, namely: Elizabeth (Mrs. Purdy) and Evaline, widow of Joseph Beals and a resident of Los Angeles, Cal.

While Still a young girl, Elizabeth Furbee became the wife of John G. Quinn, and two children were born of their union, namely: Thomas D., now living at North Yakima, Wash.; and Evengiston, a rancher and merchant in Wyoming.  After their marriage Mr. And Mrs. Quinn settled on a farm in Frederick Township and began in improve the same.  When gold was discovered in California Mr. Quinn became interested in the West and decided to accompany his father-in-law to the mines.  The journey was made without disaster.  Shortly after his arrival in California and after purchasing a claim, he was taken ill and soon died.  Far from wife and children, his body was laid to rest by his father-in-law.

The second marriage Of the subject of this sketch took place in 1852, when she was united with Joseph M. Purdy, who was born in Lebanon, Ky., and was one of a family of twenty-three children, all but one of whom attained years of maturity.  Three of the sons and three daughters came to Illinois; the others becoming scattered in various parts of the United States.  The Purdy family was founded in the United States by three brothers from Ireland, one of whom settled in Kentucky, another in New York and the third in Ohio.  From the time of his settlement in Schuyler County in 1831 until his death in 1878, Mr. Purdy was actively identified with its agricultural development and aided in the transformation of its wild lands into fertile farms.  Public enterprises received his sympathetic co-operation.  The cause of education had in him a firm friend.  Religious movements benefited by his assistance.  As a farmer he was especially interested in the development of our lands.  For a time he cultivated the farm now occupied by Mrs. Dunlap, but in 1861 he moved to the place still owned and occupied by his widow.

The following-named children comprised the family of Mr. And Mrs. Purdy: Anna, wife of Dr. S. D. Bader {Samuel}, of Peabody, Ind.; Emma, deceased, was the wife of R. Jordan, of Alma, Ore.; Maggie, (Mrs. George Doane), of Los Angeles, Cal.; Bettie, who married Grant Hendricks and lives in Salina, Kan.; Henry, of Ballard, Wash.; Joseph M., who was born March 21, 1866, and is living on the old homestead; and Eva, who remains at home and cares for her mother, tenderly ministering to her comfort in her age, and Millard, who is deceased.

Among her neighbors Grandma Purdy (for it is by this name she is affectionately known) is loved and honored.  Many an interesting hour may be passed in her society as she narrates events of the early days.  Retaining an excellent memory of the happenings of pioneer times, she loves to recount to younger generations incidents familiar to her youth.  The winters were very severe and the settlers suffered greatly from the extreme cold, especially because their cabins did not afford sufficient protection from wind and weather.  Fires were started by the aid of a flint: In the evenings the neighbors would gather in and sit by the large fireplace where, after enjoying one of Grandma Purdy’s fine suppers, they would crack nuts and tell stories.  She retains her love for the old-fashioned fireplaces and believes that, for comfort and beauty, they cannot be surpassed by the modern methods of heating.  The telephone has never interested her, for she desires to see the face of the person with whom she is conversing; and in addition she thinks that the old spirit of neighborliness that was evinced in frequent visits has been lost through the introduction of the ‘phone.  Only two of her old neighbors are now left.  The others have been called to their eternal rest, but the near-by presence of devoted children and frequent letters from those far away, prevent her from becoming lonely and enable her in her age to remain happy and contented.  For many years she has been a member of the Christian Church and her faith in a reunion with loved ones gone before, cheer the evenings of her days.


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