Bedford Twp. pg. 274-275
There is probably not an old settler in the precinct of Bedford but who, if he were asked who the Tharp family are, would answer without any hesitation: "one among the first and most honorable families of Henderson county." William Tharp, the subject of this sketch, was born in Hunterton county, New Jersey, in 1835, were he received a liberal education at a common school, and was raised to farming. He came with his father to Fulton county in 1854, and a short time after came to Henderson county, where they purchased land on section 14, near the site of where Raritan now stands. He remained with his father, assisting him in the improvement of the new farm, until the spring of 1857, when he began clerking for Jaques Voorhees. Here he obtained a knowlege of the mercantile business, in which he afterward embarked in company with Lewis B. Eltinge. They continued the business until 1859, when Eltinge sold his interest in the business to one Grovendyke. In 1860 he bought out Grovendyke's interest and since that time carried on the business alone. In 1873 he build the largest and most substantial store building in Raritan, if not in the county, on which lots 8 and 9, block G. The size of the building is 28 x 40, with twenty-two feet posts. The upper story is used as a masonic hall. His father, Peter Tharp, was born in Hunterton county, New Jersey, in May, 1801, and was married to Miss Catharine Bogart in August, 1828. The family moved to Fulton county in 1854. Mr. Tharp staid there a short time, and leaving his family he and William came to Raritan and bought a half section of land on the south side of the road west of town. When he came here there were no improvements on the prairie and only two or three houses in the neighborhood, one two miles southwest on Cornelious Schenck's farm, and one on William Cortelyon's farm one and a half miles west. They camped and lived in a wagon box put on stakes driven in the ground to keep the snakes out, for six weeks, while there putting up a house. After getting everything in readiness the family came on out, and they all commenced battling for a livelihood. Uncle Peter, as he was familiarly called, next bought the quarter section upon which the northeast part of Raritan now stands. He gave the ground for the school-building, and also for the cemetery. He was one of the first officers elected in the Reformed church, of which he was an honored member. If uncle Peter Tharp had an enemy in the neighborhood it is said that no one ever knew of it. Three daughters and four sons were born to Mr. and Mrs. Tharp. Three sons and one daughter are still living, all of whom are living in Illinois except Isaac, who is living at Nortonville, Iowa. Mrs. Tharp was laid to rest in the beautiful little cemetery of Raritan, four years prior to Mr. Tharp's death. Before his death he had erected to her grave a beautiful head-stone, with two pillars, one of which was left blank to mark his own last resting-place.
Bedford Twp. pg. 267
The Tharp family is of German extraction and originated in Holland. They emigrated to America in a very early day. In this family there were eight children, as follows: Abner, Cristopher, John, Peter, Arthur, Mary, Ellen and Eliza. Mr. Tharp was married in 1839 to Debora Wagner and became the father of eight children: Kaziah, Jacob, Amanda, Larinda, Lottie, Emma J., Maggie K. Jacob served three years as a soldier in the war of the rebellion and was a member of the 14th Ill. Cav. When our subject first came to Illinois, in 1851, he bought 149 acres of land on the S. W. 1/4 of Sec. 12, at which time there were no houses to be seen anywhere around, neither were there any fences, and when once turned loose to graze cattle and horses would wander far away through the tall prairie grass, which would often cause several days' hunt before they were again found. The nearest trading place at that time was at Burlington. He remembers having hauled wheat to that market which he sold at thirty cents per bushel, and oats from twelve to fifteen cents. Corn was selling at eight cents, during which time the railroads were charging ten cents per hundred for carring it to Chicago. A cow and calf were worth from $10 to $12, and horses $60. But notwithstanding all the disadvantages incident to those times, Mr. Tharp's pioneer life was a success, and he is now enjoying the fruits of his labors. In politics Mr. Tharp was rocked in the very cradle of democracy, but still he denied secession as a constitutional provision on the one hand and the doctrine of federal aggression on the other. He stood with Senator Stephen A. Douglas at the commencement of hostilities between the two sections, as against two extremes, North and South
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Connie Lovitt Bates