Oquawka Township-pages. 106-107
Abner Davis was a native of Vermont. He was born September 21, 1798. Lucy Oaks Davis, his wife, was born October 27, 1797, in the same state. After their marriage they removed to Saratoga county, New York. In 1835 the removed to Illinois, landing at Monmouth, Illinois, November 25 of that year. They made a temporary home that winter at Center Grove. On August 6, 1836, Mr. Davis sought out and found the land which he subsequently settled on and made his homestead. He held a patent for the N. W. 1/4 of Sec. 36, T. 9 N., R. 5 W., and this was the land that he came to find. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and had passed through the bloody battle of Lundy's Lane, under Gen. Winfield Scott, when he encountered on the sanguinary field the British army under Sir John Harvy. For his services Mr. Davis had drawn a patent for the land above described, where he resided until his death. He died December 10, 1874, aged eighty years, nine months and eleven days. A curious incident occurred a few years ago, which shows the unscrupulous character of a class of "land-sharks," or pirates, that fattened and grew rich in warring upon the titles of farmers to the lands they had honestly purchased and owned in this county. These sharks would manufacture pretended genuine patent titles to a farmer's land, and, with the audacity of a highwayman, present it to him, coolly informing the owner that the title by which he claimed to hold his lands was worthless, and demanding of him large sums for their pretended titles; as a last resort, threatening the farmer with a suit in ejectment in the United States court at Chicago. Rather than risk a ruinous litigation in a distant court, many a deluded citizen parted with his money to fill the pockets of those rascally sharks, receiving in return a pretended title not worth the paper upon which it was written. One of these sharks had in his possession a bogus patent title upon the home farm of Mr. Davis. Going out from a neighboring town in his fine buggy to view the premises from which he expected to realize a small fortune by frightening the occupant into a so-called compromise, by which he would be able to dispose of his bogus title for a large sum, he encountered Mr. Davis at work in his farm-yard, pitchfork in hand, stacking grain. The shark at once made known his business, informing Mr. Davis of his lack of genuine title, and offering him his forged title for a large sum. Mr. Davis parleyed with him for awhile, when the speculator threatened him with a suit in ejectment. At this Mr. Davis boiled over, leaping from the stack, and in language not to be misunderstood, and that, too, made still more pointed by the sharp points of his fork, he informed his would-be persecutor that on the battle-field he had earned that land, and received the title from his government; that he had fought for his title; was ready to fight again. About that time a land-shark was seen beating a retreat from the premises, followed by a pair of sharp fork-tines. Never did a swindler make better time than did this one make until he had placed many miles between himself and his intended victim.
Honey Creek Township, Page 349
William B. Dean was born in Roscommon county, Ireland, February 16, 1809. He was the son of William and Elizabeth (Hygins) Dean. At the age of seventeen, to better his fortunes, Mr. Dean left his native heath for American, first settling in New York, where he remained some years, but finally himself at Port William, Ohio. March 17, 1841, he was married to Miss Margaret Ann Rankin, a daughter of William and Elizabeth Rankin, of Clinton, Ohio. In 1853, they came to Illinois and settled in township 8, range 6, Henderson county. Mr. Dean was a farmer, and was successful in money making. He died June 14, 1872, leaving his heirs well provided for. Mr. and Mrs. Rankin were the parents of seven children: Bartley Rankin, born January 28, 1872; William Lomax, born March 2, 1843; Albert and Alfred, twins, born March 14, 1845; Mary Elizabeth, born October 3, 1848; Arthur, born October 12, 1850; Charles Edward Franklin, born April 1, 1861, died June 10, 1869.
Biggsville Township, Page 1352-1353
Among the leading farmers of Biggsville township, and worthy of special notice, is SAMUEL C. DOUGLASS, who was born in York county, Pennsylvania, October 24, 1825. His parents were William and Jane (Wallace) Douglass, natives of the same, while his grandparents were of Scotch and Irish extraction. Mr. Douglass, like his father, was reared a hardy tiller of the soil. He was to a limited extent educated in the common schools, to which has been added, by practical experience reading and observation, that more useful knowledge which has led to a life of success. At the age of twenty-one, with seventy-five cents in his pocket, he started in life for himself, and for the six following years engaged in boating on the Pennsylvania canal. In 1852 he emigrated to Henderson county, Illinois, and cropped the first year on rented land. In 1853 he purchased 160 acres of land. the N. E. 1/4 of Sec. 28, T. 10, R. 4. In the same year, in April, he bought a piece of land where the east end of the village of Biggsville now stands, and platted a part of the town. June 7, 1855, he married Miss Jane A. Stewart, who died in March, 1880. His second marriage was with Miss Mary A. Edwards, a daughter of Thomas and Anna (McBride) Edwards; she is a native of Tuscarawas county, Ohio, born April 21, 1813. Mr. Douglass is the father of seven children, whose names are: Armintha J., wife of August Weigand, Anna E., now Mrs. Edward Claybaugh, Ulysses G., Sarah L., Collins S., Angeline F. and Claudias C. Mrs. Weigand is the only child by his first wife. Mr. Douglass has added to his old home farm an adjoining farm of ninety-five, besides thirty acres of timber. His fine property is the result of his personal industry and careful economy. He and family are members of the United Presbyterian church of Biggsville, a church he has aided much by his liberality.
During the spring and summer of 1834 there came into this section John H. Dunn, Jacob Mendenhall, Robert Kendall, John Shull, T. J. Fort, John Houchin, and James and David Laswell.
John H. Dunn settled on the S. W. 1/4 of Sec. 3. He came from North Carolina, stopping for a short time in Indiana, and at Peoria, Illinois. In 1835 he returned to his native home, accompanied by his wife, to obtain a legacy left him by his father, making the entire trip in a buggy. The following year he removed to Dallas, City, Illinois. Here he died, and here his sons still reside.
A. Durling was born in Somerset county, New Jersey, in 1827, and was married in 1851 to Miss Mary A. Allen, of Hunterton county, of the same state. They were residing at Fairview at the time of their marriage, after which they removed to Avon. There they resided until 1858, when they removed to Henderson county, Illinois. This was the year that Lincoln and Douglass were stumping the state for the presidency. Our subject listened to one of their debates while at Galesburg. Mr. Durling has never associated himself with any of the benevolent or religious institutions, is liberal in his political views, possesses a clear mind and an independent way of thinking. In an earnest manner he stands by the convictions of a clear head and pure purpose in every department of life, and considering this, his success as a farmer has been somewhat singular, for he turns neither to the right nor left, either for man or parties, in pursuance of what he believes to be right. It is generally found that less decided minds succeed best in business. He is a friend to educational development and good morals.
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