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  Wednesday February 01, 2006 10:58:56 PM -0600


       , These biographies are taken from the 1886 Pictorial & Biographical Album of Knox County, Published by the Chapman Bros.  I copied them from a the original book and sent to       

who generously typed them up and emailed them back to me.  She did a wonderful fantastic job.  She saved me much time and energy which I can devote to something else.  Joyce has more bios for the Knox and also my Warren County, IL, site. This is a work in progress and with Joyce's help will soon have more of them online for your use.

so much Joyce


Knox County Illinois Biographies


Daniel W. Flynn is a worthy representative of the sons of the Emerald Isle residing at Galesburg.  He was born in the parish of Newport, in the county of Tipperary, in 1846.  His parents were Patrick and Mary (Coffey) Flynn, who came to this county in 1865 and settled at Galesburg.  Of their three sons and two daughters but two sons survive–Daniel W., our subject, and Thomas, an Inspector in the Water Works Department, Chicago.

            Daniel W. Flynn forsook his father’s business (merchant tailoring), and apprenticed himself to learn the trade of shoemaking, which occupation he followed successfully for several years.  He then abandoned this business and engaged in the liquor trade, with which he has since been successfully connected.

            Mr. Flynn was married at Galesburg, to Catherine, daughter of James Norton, Esq., the date thereof being Jan. 20, 1873.  Their union has been blest by the birth of three sons and two daughters.  The record is as follows: Frank, George, Daniel, Catherine M. And Mamie.  On the 12th of October, 1883, Mrs. Flynn departed this life in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and is buried in the St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cemetery.

            Mr. Flynn is a public-spirited citizen, an active business man and a genial and kind-hearted gentleman, qualities which have eminently fitted him for his very successful course in life.

Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album, p. 862


James H. Linsley, Division Roadmaster of the Quincy & Burlington line of the Galesburg Division of the C. B.& Q. R. R., was born in Canaan, Wayne Co., Pa., July 11, 1823.  He is the son of Dan Evelyn and Elizabeth (Hoadley) Linsley, natives of Connecticut.  The parents settled in Wayne County, coming from Connecticut in 1882, and come of a long line of ancestry in the State.

            In 1836 the parents of our subject removed to Wayne County, N. Y., where James Linsley grew to manhood.  At the age of 21 he came West and located in Michigan, where in 1848 we find him engaged in the railroad business, serving in the building department of the Michigan Central Railway, following the building of the great thoroughfare into Chicago.  He was afterward engaged with the Michigan Southern Railway, and January, 1854, located at Princeton in connection with the building department of the present C., B. & Q. (Then known as the Central Military Tract) R. R., and built the “Bureau bridges.”  In 1859 Mr. Linsley became infected with the gold fever, made a trip to Pike’s Peak, but his golden dreams did not materialize, and he returned to professional work in Illinois.  In 1865 he accepted a position in the track department of the “Q.” Railroad, and came to Galesburg, where he had been in worthy official connection with the C., B. & Q. interests since.  He married at Galva, in 1856, Miss Susan H., the accomplished daughter of Stephen Albro, of Galva.  The union was blest with a family of two sons and a daughter: Cora Henrietta, the eldest, is a graduate of Knox College, and is the wife of George W. Thomson, attorney at law, Galesburg.  Frank Evelyn is a farmer in Nebraska, and James F. Is a student of the Business College at Galesburg, Ill.

            Mr. Lindsley has been a worth official of the corporation he represents, is an honored citizen and a most genial gentleman.  He has reared and educated his family well and been a kind husband and father.  In public life he was averse to office holding, but has nevertheless served the city as Alderman for his ward two different times. He has been a member of the Masonic fraternity since 1855, and with his family attends the Baptist Church Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album, p. 862.




Harmon Way.  We should not fail to mention among the more important, progressive and practical farmers identified with Knox County the name of the gentleman of whom this biography is written.  His home is situated on section 22 of the Chestnut Township, and he is by occupation an agriculturist, and in connection with this branch of business carries on the breeding and raising of stock.

            Our subject was born in Portage County, Ohio, Feb. 19, 1815, and came to Illinois in the fall of 1841, locating in Knox County, where he now lives.  Mr. Way’s father was born in the State of Connecticut and came to Ohio at an early day.  He was by name David, and united in marriage with Rebecca Baldwin, and they both died in Ohio, at a date not exactly known.

            Mr. Harmon Way of this notice entered the matrimonial estate with Miss Elizabeth Wilson, Jan. 1, 1837, in the State of Ohio.  She was born in Stark County, that State, March 15, 1821, and her parents were Charles W. and Betsy (Shelton) Wilson, the former of whom was born in England and letter in Maryland.  Both of these are now deceased, but left eight children.

            Mr. And Mrs. Way have a family of nine children, eight of whom still survive, as follows:  David, born Jan. 27, 1838; Baldwin, Jan 14, 1840; Samuel, May 24, 1841; Andrew J., June 12, 1843; Jacob, Dec. 14, 1845; Lewis, June 22, 1849; Harmon, Jr., July 22, 1852; Hiram, Aug. 30, 1855; and Sonora, Jan. 22, 1859.  Samuel, Jackson, Jacob and Baldwin were in the late Rebellion, fighting in the Union army and doing a good and noble service for their country.  Baldwin died in the full flush of his early manhood, in 1865, at Dalton, Ga., while in the service.  The other three were protected for the perils of war and at the end of their military labors were discharged with honor from the army, living to meet their father and mother at home, after peace was declared.  All of these children are married and prosperous.  Mr. Way is one of the pioneers of this section, who has grown wealthy and influential in pursuing his own chosen path of duty.  He is the possessor of 200 acres of fine land, and devotes his time to that and the other above-named interests.  When he first came into the State he spent part of his time in hunting, as he is naturally a sportsman and game was plentiful in the early days.  Deer, wolves, wild fowl and foxes fairly flocked about him, and he considers he should exaggerate in no way if he claimed to have killed 500 deer in this county.  He has also slain many wolves.  Gradually he has watched the growth of the county and may pardonably consider himself one of its oldest and strongest pillars.  Both himself and wife are Universalists in theological belief, and Mr. Way is a stanch Republican, the political sentiments of which party he upholds and defends and with which he votes.

Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album, p. 863




Jacob Gum  Among the leading farmers and more worthy citizens distinguished for industry and good management, may be named the subject of this personal narration, a resident of Knox Township, and in reality one of the oldest settlers in the county.  The details of his life career, as herein given, go to show that he is in a large degree worthy of notice as a capable citizen and an able man.  Mr. Gum was born in that part of Sangamon now included in Menard County, Ill., Nov. 21, 1827.  His father, John B. Gum, was a native of Kentucky, being born in Munfordsville, Hart County, March 7, 1796.  His father, Jacob Gum, the grandfather of our subject, was a pioneer of Knox County of 1828.  In 1827 he and his son Zephaniah came and viewed Knox County, and the next spring he returned here with his family.  He settled at Henderson Grove, May 1st of that year.  He was a preacher of the regular Baptist Church, and the first minister of the Gospel in this county.  His marriage with Miss Rhoda Bell was productive of the birth of four children, as follows:  John B., Zephaniah, Jessie and James; all dead.  Mrs. Gum was born in Germany and died March 11, 1852 aged 84 years 7 months and 18 days.  The sons came to Knox County with their parents, and all settled in Henderson Grove in 1828.  The elder Gum took up a tract of 320 acres of land in Henderson Township, on which he erected a log house, and his sons, Zephaniah and Jesse, improved the land. Here the old gentleman passed his last years on the home farm, and died April 15, 1847, aged 82 years and 4 months.

            The father of our subject grew to manhood in his native State, and in his earlier years was united in marriage with Cassandria Dills, also a native of Kentucky, and was born Jan. 26, 1803.  She was the daughter of Thomas Dills.  In 1823 the Gum family all moved to Illinois, which journey was made overland with teams.  They brought with them their household goods and camped along the way.  They lived in that part of Sangamon County, which is now Menard County, and were among the earlier settlers.  They took up claims and erected cabins, where they resided until the spring of 1828, when they sold out and came to Knox County, which was then attached to Fulton County for judicial purposes.  In 1833 Mr. Gum went among the Indians and bought seed corn.  The father took up a claim in Henderson Township, building a durable log cabin, covering the same with clapboards and laying a puncheon floor.  This house played a very conspicuous part in the early history of the county, being noteworthy from the fact that the first religious meetings in the county were held within its walls, as was also the first court.

            Continuing in this part of the county until 1831, he at that time sold his patent to the land and removed to Knox Township, where located a claim of 240 acres on section 29, and again built a small log house, which in the fall he replaced by a hewed log cabin, which is still standing.  Sometimes during the Indian wars, whenever an outbreak occurred, the few settlers would repair to this house for a place of safety.  Here his wife died Nov. 14, 1832.  Two years later he formed a second matrimonial connection, with Miss Jane Burner, who was born in Tennessee, Nov. 18, 1809.  He bought this land and improved it as a farm, living there until 1861, when he sold out and went to California, making the entire journey overland.  He located in San Joaquin County, purchasing a farm, on which he engaged in agricultural pursuits.  His death occurred Oct. 29, 1869, at that place.  To him had been born by the first marriage two children—Melissa, who married D. G. Burner, and who died June 9, 1853, and Jacob, our subject.  By the second marriage there were 10 children, of whom eight now survive—Isaac, who is warden of the State Penitentiary of California; Rhoda, wife of Aaron White, and is living in San Joaquin County, Cal.; John, who lives in Galva, Henry County, Ill.; Charles makes his home in San Joaquin County, Cal.; Mary, wife of a Mr. Plummer, resides in Stockton Cal.; Bessie, wife of Peter Elamm, lives in San Joaquin County, Cal.; Susan, wife of Mr. Cope, and Jane, who is also married, and lives in California; Knox lives on the homestead in Lodi, Cal., with his mother.  The children who are dead were Jason, the eldest son, and Bessie; both died several years ago.

            Jacob Gum was but a few months old when he came to this county with his parents.  Here he grew to manhood, assisting his father on the farm and attending the public school. He was one of the first students in the first school ever established in Knoxville.  He continued under the parental roof until his marriage, which was celebrated April 1, 1852, with Miss Jane Montgomery, daughter of John and Margaret (Vaughn) Montgomery (see sketch).  At the time of his marriage he engaged in farming, locating on section 36 of Galesburg Township.  This farm he occupied until 1873, when he left it in charge of his daughter and son-in-law, and moved to the place he now occupies, on section 31, of Knox Township.  Mr. Gum has been one of the most noteworthy farmers for enterprise and prosperity in this section of the country.  Mr. Gum’s farm comprises about one thousand acres, in Knox, Galesburg and Orange Townships.  Mr. Gum makes a specialty of stock raising and breeding, particularly the raising of horses.  He has for several years been breeding well-bred Hamiltonians and Clydesdales, also a few Normans.  He also breeds Shorthorn cattle, and has been breeding thoroughbred Chester-white hogs and Leicester sheep.  He takes rank as one of the large stock-raisers in this section of the country.  His sons are interested with him in stock raising.  They have on hand, at this writing, 61 horses and mules, and a good herd of cattle, which gives some idea of the magnitude of his stock enterprises.

            Mr. Gum and his wife are the parents of five children, as follows:  Sarah M., wife of Jesse Brown, whose home is in Henderson Township; William N., John M., Mary B. and Charlie D.  Mr. and Mrs. Gum are members of the Christian Church, and most excellent neighbors and friends.  The husband takes an active interest in politics, and has been a supporter of the Republican party ever since its formation.  During the war, he was a stanch Union man.

            John B. Gum, whose portrait we present on the opposite page, was one of the most conspicuous men in the early history of Knox County.  He was evidently regarded as one of the most capable of pioneers, as we find him prominently identified with every move toward the organization of the county, as well as of the various departments of the county’s government.  It was at his residence that the first county commissioners’ Court was held.  He was elected Clerk, but at the next meeting resigned.  The first term of the Circuit Court was also held at his cabin, Oct.1, 1830.  This cabin, which was known as the “temporary seat of justice of Knox County,” stood on section 32, Henderson Township.  It was a one-story, double log cabin.  Each division contained one room.  This was also the tavern for this section of country.  Mr. Gum also served as the first Treasurer of Knox County.  His first report showed that he handled for the year $341.32.  Of this $320 was received from the State Treasurer, $19.32 from taxes, and $2 from license.  Mr. Gum was a fine type of the early pioneer, possessed many Christian virtues, and was highly esteemed and respected by every one of the sturdy pilgrims who came to the beautiful groves of Knox County, before they were marred by the hand of man.


Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album, p. 189-191.



Mary Roe.  The lady, of whom this biography is written, is one of the most estimable women of Knox County, and worthy of a place in its records.  She has shown much business ability, and in spite of the obstacles and hindrances that confront a woman left alone, has done nobly, and like Joan of Arc, “Redeemed her people.”  Her farm is situated on section 21, of Indian Point Township, and though large, originally, has been divided with the children, until 74 acres as a homestead, remains to the widow, daughter of Benjamin and Nancy (Tift) Barber, who were natives of Rhode Island.

            Mrs. Mary Roe was born in Chenango County, near Norwich, N. Y., Jan. 9, 1815.  In the year 1836, she united her destiny with Mr. Silas Roe, of Dutchess County, N. Y., who was born June 15, 1807.  Their marriage was celebrated in Norwich, and they lived there six years, at the expiration of which time they came to Illinois, locating in Knox County in the spring of 1843.  They have had 12 children, and besides her own family, she has two children, which she brought up as her own.  The children’s names are as follows:  Sarah Ann, the eldest, died when in infancy; Emily C., Silas J., Truman H., Daniel M., Mary A., Jerusha G., Pluma A., Martin E., Nancy E., Laura A., Martha J. and Elizabeth.

            Mr. Roe enlisted in the army in March 1865.  Being a carpenter by trade, he engaged with the government to work at Duval’s Bluff.  He was never heard from after the war, and it was generally supposed that he perished in a steamboat explosion in the vicinity of Vicksburg, as all inquiries failed to elicit any information as to his whereabouts.

            Mrs. Roe had three sons in the army, one of whom, Daniel, lost his life at Pittsburgh Landing.  He nobly proved that “They never die who fall in a great cause.”  His death was the result of wounds.  The two others were Silas J. and Truman H.  The latter was in the 1st Cavalry, passed through the ordeal unscathed and went home to the waiting mother.  They are still living. 

She has one daughter, now living in Galesburg, and one in Cass county, Iowa; a daughter in Ford County, Ill.; one in Hancock County; one in Knox County; and Mills County, Iowa; Martha E. is in Nebraska; and one in Wyoming County, Pa.

            Mrs. Roe and husband were congenial companions and passed together a happy married life.  He was an earnest, humble, and a kind and loving husband and father, and his death was deeply lamented.  Mrs. Roe was one of the early settlers of this section of country, and remembers vividly, many of the incidents of pioneer days.  She entered the house in which she now lives, before it was sided or shingled.  During his life they accumulated considerable property.  Their landed possessions amount to 400 acres.  He was an active, earnest member of society, and watched political events with considerable interest.  He was a Republican in sentiment and vote.  In faith, he was a Protestant Methodist


Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album, p. 191.



Joseph Ellis, now deceased, formerly a leading farmer, was born in Hamilton County, Ohio, Oct. 26, 1811.  His parents were Dr. Thomas and Catherine (Wescott) Ellis, natives of New England, who resided in Ohio many years prior to their decease, having supposedly married in that State.  The father died when Joseph was a small boy, who lived with his mother till his marriage, which took place in Hamilton County, Jan. 30, 1842, to Miss Laura M. Jacobus, who was born near Bath in Steuben County, N.Y., June 24, 1818.  Her parents, Garrett and Elizabeth (Wilhelms) Jacobus, were natives of New Jersey and married in New York State, where five children were born to them; Eleanor, Margaret (Mrs. Ellis), Henry, Mary and Joshua.  The children are all deceased except Mary and Mrs. Ellis.  The mother died in the year of 1834.  Mrs. Ellis remained with her father about four years after the death of her mother.  She then went to live with her uncle as housekeeper, where she remained three years, until she was married.  After the marriage of his daughter, the father lived with her, and died at her home in Oneida, Jan. 1, 1877, aged 86 years.  He was a mechanic of skill and a generally successful man.  In 1842, in the spring following their marriage, Mr. And Mrs. Ellis came to Fulton County, Ill., and settled on a new farm in Fairfield Township, where they lived for 20 years, during which period Mr. Ellis purchased a farm of 160 acres in Ontario Township, which he operated and rented, making his home in Oneida till his death, March 19, 1873, having lived in the latter place two years.

            Mrs. E., since the death of her husband, operated a portion of the property which was left to her by him, amounting to 80 acres in Ontario Township, improved, and 11 acres in the city, besides the fine home property on which she resides.  She is a woman of strong character, possessing fine executive ability, a clear, vigorous mind, and an especially excellent memory.  Her husband, while living, was a firm and reliable Republican, and a good honest man of kind and friendly disposition, alike toward rich and poor.  Mrs. Ellis is an active member of the Congregational Church, and for many years, while living in the country, their home was noted for its generous hospitality and unfailing good cheer, and was called by many of the traveling public the “Traveler’s Home.”  She is the mother of two children:  Mary E. Murdock (see sketch of Frank Murdock):  Alonzo, a single man, now living in Elvada, Butler County, Kansas, the owner of a large farm and a stock-feeder.  The excellent mother, now approaching the seventies in years, has led a irreproachable life, cheered and guided by the light which gleams from the portals of another world, entrance into which she awaits in confident faith, happy to stay with loved ones here or ready to join the throng of friends awaiting her coming on the other shore.  In all her life, she has been blessed with loving friends and dutiful children, and she approaches old age with neither regret nor repining. 


Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album, pp. 191,192


John Hobbs, formerly one of the most prominent farmers of Knox County, where he lived from the time he was a year old till his death, which occurred at Oneida, Feb. 21, 1885, was born in Knox County, Ohio, April 7, 1837.  His parents, William and Sarah (Mountjoy) Hobbs, were natives of England, where they were married, and came to the United States after the birth of their first child, William, and settled in Knox County, Ohio, a short time after John was born.  A year later the family located in Knoxville, Ill., where they resided for ten years, when they settled in Copley Township, purchasing and improving a farm of 320 acres, on which they lived until their decease, the mother dying in September, 1861, while the father followed in April, 1879.

            John Hobbs, our subject, remained at home with his parents till he was married May 1, 1862 to Miss Jennette McSkimming, who was a native of Ayershire, Scotland, and who when 14 years old, came with her parents to America.  Her father’s name was Hugh and her mother’s Anna Wallace.  They at once settled in Knox County, where her parents resided for many years, removing in March, 1878, to Adams County, Iowa, where they are yet living and rank among the active and successful farmers of Union County.

            Mrs. Hobbs was the eldest but two of a family of 15 children, 10 of whom are yet living.  The names of these are: Mary, who became the wife of Ezra Fosmire, and they are now living in Adams County, Iowa; William married Jeanette Russell and they are the parents of one child, Hattie; Mrs. Hobbs of this sketch is next in order; Anna became the wife of Christian Gehring and their union has been blessed by eight children–William, Mary, Anna, Frank, Alice, Stella, Harry, Arnold and Hugh; Jeannie became the wife of Edward Town and mother of one child, born March 5, 1886; Joan became the wife of Thomas Montgomery, and they are the parents of two children-George and Luella; Hugh married Adella Burkhart, and they now have two children, named Maud and Pearl; James is now living in Colorado; David married Delia Humphrey and one child has blessed that union-Hugh.  The five children that are deceased died in infancy, except Campbell, who died at the age of 17.  Mrs. Hobbs is the mother of four children, one of whom, Stephen, is deceased.  The living, Sarah, John and Ella, were all educated in the Oneida High School and are all affectionate and intelligent children, a comfort and blessing to their widowed mother, who had given a mother’s devotion and care to their instruction and training in all that adorns, develops and strengthens true character.

            After the marriage of Mr. And Mrs. Hobbs they settled on a farm of 80 acres, once a part of her father’s homestead in Copley Township, and which the young and thrifty couple promptly improved and which they increased by purchase to 134 acres in this county and 56 acres near Los Angeles, Cal.  This was all well improved before his death, and all is yet owned by Mrs. Hobbs, the administratrix of her husband’s estate.  Prior to his death Mr. Hobbs had held local offices in his township, enjoying to a marked degree that best of all evidence of worth, the unwavering confidence and respect of his neighbors to whom he was best known.

            The loss of the affectionate husband and father was a severe blow to the family and especially to her with whom he had walked side by side for more than a score of years, through the sunshine of youth and the strugglers of their maturer days.  Separation being if possible made more poignant than after successfully placing his family beyond any possible want.  He was taken away in the prime of is manhood, without being permitted to long enjoy the fruits of his successful toil.  Such, however, is one of the frequent incidents of this earthly existence and to the family thus early bereaved is left a worthy example to emulate and the memory of a dear friend to cherish. Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album pp. 192,193.


Pedro W. Epperson, deceased.  The subject of this detailed biographical notice was recognized as one of the citizens of Knox County, eminent for their enterprising industry and success in agricultural pursuits.  He was one of the pioneers of this section of country, having come to the county in 1836, from the State of Kentucky.  He was prosperous in all his pursuits and today is remembered as one of the leading men of the county.

            Mr. Epperson was born in Virginia  April 13, 1800, and grew up in his native State to young manhood, and was united in marriage in Kentucky, Jan. 4, 1823.  At this time he took to wife Elizabeth Dalton, who was born in Virginia, May 6, 1803.  To them were born 11 children, named as follows: Sarah A., Lydia J., William D., James W., John H., Christina, Charles I., Mary E., Thomas P., Francis M. And Henry F.

            Mr. Epperson held many important offices in the township in which he lived, and assisted in laying out the wagon road to Rock Island.  As previously stated, he came from Kentucky in 1836, with his wife and six children, and settled in Rio Township, in which part of the county he departed this life and was there buried.  His death took place Sept. 20, 1881.  He was a genial, warm-hearted man, of affable and kingly manners, so that his loss was widely felt.  He was a member of the Baptist Church, and a consistent, worthy Christian, living the principles in his daily life in a noble charity, and a generous feeling for his fellow men.  At his death he left to his widow 190 acres of land, 30 of which is in timber, besides other property in Rio Township, so that she is amply provided for in a worldly point of view.  He was a member of the Masonic, fraternity in good standing, being a member of Oxford Lodge, No. 337.  He was connected with that lodge for over 30 years.  His parentage may be traced back to English origin.  Mrs. Epperson’s lineage is traced back to the same country as her husband’s.       

Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album p. 193


William P. Marks is a farmer residing on section 9, Cedar Township, Knox Co, Ill.  He was born in this township June 19, 1841, on section 9, where he still resides with his family, and is the son of Benjamin and Mary (Bishop) Marks, both natives of Kentucky.  They came here in 1835 and settled right here where William P. still lives, and both died here on this place.  The date of Mr. Mark’s father’s birth is unknown, but his demise took place in 1845.  His mother was born in 1811 and died in 1878 in this township.  By the happy marriage there were seven children—Lavina, Benjamin, Mary A., Serilda, William P., Wayne B. and Penelope.  The two latter are dead.  Five of these children are still living, each being happily married.

            Mr. William P., the subject of this sketch, married Miss Mary E. McCoy in Knox County, she having been born July 14, 1847, in Highland County, Ohio, and is the daughter of Harlem and Jane (Wise) McCoy, natives of Virginia and Ohio respectively.  His birth took place Nov. 22, 1818, and he still lives in Orange Township, this county.  She was born Jan 14, 1825, and by this happy union there were six children—Salina E. Mary E., Kerzerta A. Eliza J., Christopher A. and James W.

            The children of Mr. Marks, the gentleman whose name heads this biography, are eight in number and all living:  Wilbert F., born Nov. 1, 1866; William A., Aug. 28, 1869; Mary J., June 30, 1872; Lavina A., Jan. 20, 1875; Waldon A., Aug. 25, 1877; Warren P., March 3, 1880; Wilber E., Dec. 1, 1882; and Wilson H., June 28, 1885.  Mr. Mark’s estate consists of 200 acres of fine land, all situated in this township.  In 1884 he erected a very desirable barn 48 x 58 feet.  He possesses 30 head of cattle of the Polled Angus breed, and 50 head of graded and Shorthorns.  He is also breeding the Black Hawk and Messenger roadsters, the latter of which he has four head; besides these he is breeding some English Draft and Clydesdales.  From the care and general watchfulness which this gentleman bestows upon his stock, he is likely in the near future to produce some splendid specimens of highly bred cattle and horses. Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album pp. 193,194


George Stevens is one of the prominent farmers of Knox County.  He came to it in 1860 from Colorado, and purchased 470 acres in Persifer Township.  On this land he settled in 1866, where he has since lived, and is now owner of 1257 acres in that township, and as it will be seen, is one of the heaviest landowners in the county.  His homestead is located on section 27, and besides being interesting agricultural pursuits, he is busily engaged in raising stock.

            Mr. Stevens was born in Philadelphia, and when nine years of age went to North Carolina and thence to New Orleans.  He belonged to the “49ers,” going to California in that year and engaging in mining.  He is an extensive traveler, having crossed the plains a number of times, and has engaged in freighting from Missouri to Colorado.

            Our subject was married in Galesburg, Oct. 2nd, 1866 to Hannah P. Rafferty, who was born in Madison County, Ohio, July 1, 1848.  They have been the parents of nine children, six of whom survive, as follows:  Lucinda, George W., Mary J. Eleanor, John and Milo; Roy, Loring and Lillie are deceased.  In politics Mr. Stevens is a Democrat, and is an active wide-awake man, interested in all matters relative to the welfare of his country, a man of enlarged views, and has successfully applied his intelligence to his business affairs, the result of which is witnessed in his vast prosperity. Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album p 194.



Ole Anderson.  The little kingdom of Norway has contributed her quota of sturdy, energetic men who have done their part toward the development of this country.  In Sparta Township that country is well represented, and as one of the representatives of that country, and in fact we might say, one of the foremost men in the county, is the subject of this notice.

            Ole Anderson, who is at present residing on his fine farm on section 12, Sparta Township, was born in Norway, in 1820.  His parents were Andrew and Harriet (Christian) Olaf Anderson, natives of that country.  Our subject lived there with his parents until 16 years of age, after which he worked out for four years.  His ambitious spirit at this age of life prompted him to engage in other than hard labor, and he turned his attention to the buying and selling of stock, which he followed for four years.  In 1846 he purchased a farm in his native country and for three years was occupied in its cultivation.  He then sold his place, and, expecting to better his financial condition in the land beyond the salty waters of the Atlantic, he concluded to emigrate.  He set sail for this country, and in 1849, after disembarking at an Eastern seaport, he came almost directly to this county.  On arriving here, his funds being exhausted, he commenced work for Mr. B. Leighton.  He remained with the latter gentleman but a short time when he purchased 80 acres of land, and once more engaged in farming.

            The judgment of Mr. Anderson, on first coming to the country, was that the broad, uncultivated prairie lands were not only productive, but would in a short time rapidly increase in value.  He consequently has been engaged in the buying and selling of land ever since he came here, together with the raising of stock.  At the present time he is the proprietor of 1400 acres of land in the State, and on his fine farm, on section 12, has some splendid improvements, his residence and barn costing him about $5,000.  On his home farm he has a herd of about 180 head of cattle, 150 head of hogs and 30 head of horses.  In addition to his real possessions in this State he owns a large tract of land in Texas, which he is improving.  His Texas land amounts to 12,500 acres, which he intends to make a stock ranch.  It is all under fence, and 2,500 of it join the town of Big Springs.

            The marriage of our subject took place in Norway.  A short time after coming to this State his wife died of cholera; she lies buried at Ottawa.  By their union one child was born—Mary, now Mrs. H. Mitchell.  The second matrimonial alliance of Mr. Anderson was with Betsey Anderson, born in Norway.  The issue of the latter union was 11 children, named Willie, Henry, Andrew, Alfred, Christian, Arthur, Harriet, Annie, Jennie, Sophia and Emil.

            Ole Anderson is a self-made man in every sense the word implies.  His motto has always been, “Never put off until tomorrow what can be done today.”  He is independent in politics, and has held the office of Roadmaster and School Trustee, and is one of the well-known and respected citizens as well as an energetic and successful farmer of Sparta Township.Source Information: Portrait and Biographical Album p 410.




Hugh M. Mitchell.  This gentleman is one of the wealthy farmers of Knox County, but has now retired from that occupation and lives at Oneida.  He came to this county during the fall of 1864, and at first took up his residence in the town of Sparta, one and one-half miles east of the village of Wataga, where he lived until 1871, when he moved to Ontario Township and became the possessor of 600 acres of good land.  Previously he had purchased 300 acres in Sparta Township, where he had resided from 1864 to 1871, his Ontario Township farm being a portion of section 23.  He still holds the Sparta property, having gradually increased it until it now reaches 560 acres of well-improved and fertile land.  He has also a good residence in Oneida.

            On the 25th of May 1820, Mr. Mitchell was born in Harrison County, Ohio.  He is the son of John Mitchell, an Ohio farmer, who was reared and educated in Washington County, PA.  He afterward married, in Jefferson County, Ohio, Miss Margaret McGee, a native of that county.  Mrs. Mitchell, as well as her husband, was of Irish descent.  Both parents early settled in Harrison County, in fact, while that district was yet an unbroken and heavily timbered forest.  Here, amidst the native wilds, they gradually improved a farm, and on this lived until both passed away, leaving a family of 11 children.  Mr. Mitchell was a soldier in the War of 1812.  

            The subject of this biography was the fifth child in order of birth in the above-named family.  Hugh M. lived at home until his 24th year, when, on March 19, 1844, Miss Nancy Nash became his wife.  The amiable lady was born in the same county on the 9th of August 1820.  Her parents were Pennsylvania farmers, who settled in Harrison County while Mrs. Mitchell was still a child, and under whose care and guidance she lived until her marriage.  Both her parents passed away in the vicinity where they originally settled.  Mrs. Mitchell was the third in order of birth of a family of seven children, consisting of two boys and five girls, all of whom are living.  Six children have been born to the Mitchell family, all sons but one.  Two of these, a son and a daughter, are deceased.  John R. resides on a farm in Ontario Township; Samuel P. follows the profession of loan and insurance agent, is married and resides at Columbus, Kan.; Hugh Parks is also married and engaged in farming in Gage County, Neb., while J. Calvin is editor of the Keithsburg Times.  Mr. Mitchell has given his children excellent educational advantages, all of them, except John, having attended the colleges at Galesburg and Monmouth.  In their religious belief, Mr. And Mrs. Mitchell are Presbyterians.


            Starting in an humble way on 40 acres of very broken, hilly land, by dint of courage and perseverance Mr. And Mrs. Mitchell saved enough from the proceeds of this farm to enable them to buy a large farm, to which they moved in 1847.  Being successful in this venture, they decided, in 1853, on a new enterprise, that of keeping a country tavern in connection with the farm.  To this farm belonged a small village, called Cassville.  Here he held the office of Postmaster.  As there was no line of travel except overland, the tavern, in connection with the farm, proved a remunerative business; but desiring to turn his whole attention to farming, Mr. M. decided to remove his family to Illinois.  He came to Knox County in the fall of 1864, as above stated.  Feeling the decrepitude of age and hard farm life coming on and having educated both his sons, both at school and in the art of farming, he decided to leave the management of the farms to them, and retired to the village on the handsome competency left him.  Mr. M. is a Democrat in politics, and a man whose character has ever been associated with the conscious rectitude noticeable to those who know him or have been connected with him in business transactions.  His convictions regarding duty are firm, and his integrity widely acknowledged.  In the building up of his adopted State, he has faithfully performed all of a citizen’s part, and displayed a sturdy interest in whatever seemed to contribute to the general good.

            To crown an old age already honored, this gentleman has seen his children grow up and enter successfully upon life’s stage, while the warm wishes of innumerable friends will no doubt continue to render the remainder of his life a source of undiminished happiness.  His portrait, as one of the most esteemed citizens of the county, is given in connection with this sketch. Portrait and Biographical Album p. 419.



Mathew Fooks is a farmer of prominence, and a representative citizen, living on section 16, Galesburg Township.  He was born in Somersetshire, England, June 15, 1821, where he remained with his parents up to his 21st year, attending the common schools and working on his father’s farm.  He emigrated to America in 1846, landed at New York, and came one to Galesburg.  Here he permanently located about one mile from the Public Square of that city.  His residence is on the Monmouth road and he has 145 acres of first-class land under a high state of cultivation.  His dwelling house is beautifully gotten up and well furnished, and he lives the life of a bachelor.  He is retiring and of a studious turn.

            His parents were Thomas and Phoebe (Wheeler) Fooks, both natives of England, where they lived and died. His mother was born in 1784 and died on the 20th of July 1864.  His father’s birth took place in 1782 and he died in 1862.  They were both members of the Congregational Church, and Mr. Fooks, Sr., was a Whig politician of the old English school.  Their family consisted of four boys and four girls, viz.” Mathew, mark, Thomas, William, Mary A., Elizabeth, Phebe and Eliza; the last of these but one is living in Wataga, Ill.  Mathew, the subject of our sketch, adopted a niece, Etta Fooks, seven years ago.  She is a bright and interesting girl 14 years of age, and is now receiving a careful training and education.  Her uncle is an attendant of the Presbyterian Church, of which he is a consistent and practical adherent.  He is a Republican in Politics and a stanch supporter of any measure likely to strengthen the hold of that party on American institutions. Portrait and Biographical Album p.634.



John Harpman. Knox County’s boundaries include the handsome home of many prosperous and wealthy farmers, successful merchants and worthy and able citizens, and noteworthy among the first and last classes is found the subject of this sketch, whose farm lies on section 36, in Copley Township, and whose prosperity and triumph in his chosen field of labor are only equaled by his noble record as a soldier fighting in the defense of a well-loved country.

            Mr. Harpman was born in Sweden, March 29, 1836, his parents, Jonas and Eliza (Skinner) Harpman, being natives of Sweden also.  They came to America in 1850, and settled in Knox County, where the mother died in 1850.  The father went to Washington County, Minn., and died in 1851.  They had a family of eight children, four of whom are still living:  Martha, now Mrs. Rosengrand; John, Andrew, and William.  Our subject remained at home with his parents until their death, but not long after his bereavement, longing to find a new field and a broader sphere, he removed to Peoria, where he hired out for $3 per month for one year.  On this mere pittance, however, he managed to subsist, and after one year he came to Knox County, where he worked out by the month for two years; thence he went to Copley Township, and from there to Abingdon, attending school in Hedding College, and working out.  He continued at this for five years, then, considering himself fitted so to do, he went to Washington County, Minn., where he taught school and handled an interest in a sawmill, in which section of the country he remained until 1861. 

            It was about this time that Mr. Harpman enlisted in the army.  His heart beat high with patriotism and the earnest, manly desire to lend the strength of his own right arm to sustain the cause of his country.  Fighting bravely “for God, and home and native land,” he took his place in the regiment, enlisting in Co. I, 6th Iowa Vol. Inf., and was there three years.  He took part in the battles of Pittsburg Landing, siege of Vicksburg, and other important engagements.  At the battle of Shiloh he was dangerously wounded and taken to the St. Louis hospital.  From there he was removed to Keokuk, and rejoined his regiment in Tennessee.  He was in the campaign against Vicksburg and came back to Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge, besides Lookout Mountain.  He then went to Knoxville, Tenn., and after that figured in Sherman’s “march to the sea.”  He was honorable discharged after three years of service.  He was commissary clerk, which position he held after his service in the army proper.  He returned to Illinois first on leaving his regiment, and again adopted the life of a farmer, and teaching in the winter.

            In 1867 he purchased 160 acres in Persifer Township, to which he afterward added 40 acres, all wild land.  This he commenced on, and it did indeed appear a hopeless field, but grubbing, breaking and fencing made a vast difference, and when he had erected a neat little log cabin, 16 x 18, it did not have so cheerless and appearance.  With indomitable will and patience that never tired, he kept up his chosen work, and, when he had replaced his log cabin with a nice house valued at $1000, the metamorphosis was complete.  This was in 1868, and he remained on his homestead until 1875, at which time he purchased 160 acres more where he now is.

            In 1865 he was united in marriage with Miss Margaret, who was a daughter of Herman and Christine Rosenleaf.  These were natives of Sweden, and came to America in 1850.  Accompanied by his most excellent helpmeet, Mr. Harpman’s work was crowned with success, and she proved in the fullest sense how excellent is the help of a good wife.  Her parents, on arriving in America, came to Illinois and settled La Fayette, Stark Co.  There the father followed blacksmithing for five years, and in 1855 he moved to Copley Township, Knox County, where he purchased 120 acres of land on section 26.  In 1862 he enlisted and went away with other from his happy home in behalf of his country.  He was killed at the battle of Chickamauga.  The mother still lives, making her home at Victoria.  Their family consisted of nine children, six still living, as follows:  Margaret C., who married and is now Mrs. John Harpman; Annie C., now Mrs. Andrew Harpman; Adelaide E., now Mrs. Christover; Rebecca, wife of Mr. Bassett; Sarah married to Mr. Stringer, and Thomas. 

            Mr. And Mrs. Harpman, of this writing, have a pleasant and attractive home, and a congenial and delightful family circle.  They are the parents of eight children—Alpha E., Albert J., Hilmer V., Sarah A., Charles A., Alice M., Junie A. and Arthur O.  Good cheer is always found about their hearthstone, and their home may, indeed, be said to be “one of sweet content and an abiding place for the stranger within the gates.”   Source:   Portrait and Biographical Album p.635, 635.



James Alexander Wilson, one of the representative farmers of Galesburg Township, residing on section 27, was born in Persifer Township May 20, 1843, and is a son of Francis and Elizabeth (McPherrin) Wilson.  He was reared on his father’s farm at intervals attending the district schools, which was all the schooling he ever received.  He remained with his parents until he gained his majority, when he married Miss Martha Wertman, in January 1868.  She was born Sept. 18, 1848, in Columbia County, Pa.

            Mrs. Wilson came to Illinois with her parents in 1862 and located in this county.  Their names were Elias and Mary (Kistler) Wertman.  They were natives of Pennsylvania; the father, born Feb. 3, 1809 is still living; the mother was born in 1813, also in Pennsylvania, and died Sept. 23, 1875.  They had eight children, namely:  Agnes (deceased), William, Daniel, Sarah, Mary E., Lloyd, Martha J. and Charlie.  The parents of Mr. Wilson of our sketch had eight children—George, Thomas, Elizabeth, John, James Alexander, Francis, Drusilla and Mary.

            Mr. Wilson has erected an elegant residence on his farm, two stories high, 60 x 32 feet in dimensions, with a fine cellar under the entire structure.  It is finely finished inside and cost $4,000.  He is doing a general farm business, and is a Democrat in politics and one of the most enterprising farmers in the county.  Mr. And Mrs. Wilson are the happy parents of five children, as follows: Charles E., born Nov. 30, 1869; Arthur C., born July 12 1872; Lyle, Aug. 29, 1874; Ray, June 5, 1877; and Mary A., May 16, 1885.

            Mr. Wilson has been a life-long resident of this county, is highly esteemed by his many friends, is faithful in all the relations of life and is a successful businessman.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album p. 668.


Patrick ShehanThe subject of this narrative is a general farmer, residing on section 11, Walnut Grove Township.  He is the son of Patrick and Berdelia (Riley) Shehan, both natives of Ireland, where they were married, but subsequently came to the United States.  They at first located in New York City, where all their children were born.  By this happy union there were four sons and four daughters, Mr. Shehan, Jr., being the younger son, and the youngest but two of the family.  He was born in the 5th of August 1857.  In 1866, the family all came westward and settled on a farm of 160 acres in the township above referred to.  A portion of the family still reside on the original homestead, where the father died Oct. 14, 1874.  The mother is in her 65th year, a venerable and kindly-hearted old lady, still living on the homestead, and to which the children have added 80 acres since the death of their father.  The farm is now owned and operated by the son, Thomas S.

            Mr. Shehan, of his biography, resided at his parents’ home until he was married, in Wataga, Knox County, Sept. 1, 1880, to Miss Dora Wickham, a native of New York State.  The parents were farmers, and first came to Illinois in 1865, settling in Galva, later at Altona, where they purchased a farm of 240 acres in Walnut Grove Township.  This they made their home for eight years and then proceeded to the State of Nebraska, where they arrived in 1881 and took up a farm of 1120 acres in Merrick County.  This opened an opportunity for extensive stock-raising, which was carried on with success and profit.  Mrs. Shehan was educated in Knox County and resided with her parents until her marriage.

  Source: Portrait and Biographical Album .668



Harvey Ouderkirk.   There are many successful and well-to-do farmers in Knox County, and Maquon Township certainly has its quota.  Prominent among those who have obtained success in life through their own energy and perseverance is the subject of this narrative, residing on section 6, Maquon Township, where he is pursuing his chosen vocation, agriculture.  His parents were Jacob and Nancy (Wafle) Ouderkirk, who were natives of New York, in which state they were married, and subsequently moved to They afterward removed just across the line into Haw Creek Township, in which place they lived until the death of the father, which event took place May 29, 1882.  The mother is still living and resides in Maquon Township.  Mr. And Mrs. Jacob Ouderkirk became the happy parents of nine children, seven girls and two boys, Harvey being the third child in order of birth.

            Our subject first saw the light of day at Maquon, Dec. 15, 1838.  He remained under the parental rooftree until he had attained the age of 24 years, at which time he rented a farm in Maquon Township and afterward bought a farm in Chestnut Township, where he lived from 1867 to 1880, when he traded for land in Maquon Township.  In the year 1880 he removed upon the tract he purchased in the latter township, where he has since lived.  He is at this writing the owner of 340 acres of well-improved and highly cultivated land.

            Harvey Ouderkirk’s marriage took place Dec. 13, 1862, at which time Sarah E., daughter of John and Hettie (Holloway) Cook united her fortune with his.  Miss Cook’s father was a native of Ohio, her mother being born in Maryland.  They came to Knox County in 1848 and settled in Orange Township, where the mother died July 21, 1868, the father’s death occurring in Kansas, Aug. 10, 1882.  They were the parents of five boys and four girls, Mrs. O. being the fifth child in order of birth.  She was born in Pickaway County, Ohio, Feb. 16, 1839.

            Mr. And Mrs. O. of this notice have been blessed with the birth of five children, one of whom died in infancy.  Those living are Henry J., Clara E., Oscar B. and Elnora E.  Mr. O. has been honored by the people of his township by the positions of Overseer of Highways and School Director.  In politics he identifies himself with the Republican Party.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album p667.


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