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Biography of Henry I. Purdy

HENRY I. PURDY. In the year 1842 some eight or ten families emigrated from Vermont and settled in Jackson County, Illinois, forming what was and is known today as Vergennes Colony. Isham Purdy’s family, consisting of father, mother and seven children, formed a part of this colony-three boys and four girls. Henry I., the subject of this sketch, being the oldest son. Edwin P. married and has made his home in Carbondale, Illinois, and has been extensively engaged in the lumber business for the last twenty years. Charles W. Purdy, the third son, married and settled in the old neighborhood and has resided on his pleasant and fine farm ever since the war. He enlisted at the beginning of the war and marched by the side of his eldest brother, Henry, and his sixteen-year old son, John W., making music with his fife and the father and son with their drums through many a weary and dangerous day. He was discharged as disabled in 1863, and was sent home to his family, where he resides today. The girls of the family all married prosperous farmers of the neighborhood and still reside in the vicinity of their father’s old home. After buying land and making a small payment thereon the Purdy family, like all new settlers, found themselves very poor and with many obstacles to discourage them in their undertaking. But that true blue Yankee blood in their veins gave them determination to do or die. After living for a winter on a dirt floor they managed to build themselves a comfortable house, and shelter for their stock, from proceeds...

Biography of John Deere

No citizen in Rock Island County, or throughout the country, was probably more widely known than John Deere of Moline. He was born at Rutland, Vermont, February 7, 1804, and died May 17, 1886. 1805 the family moved to Middlebury, Vermont, where the children attended school in a district schoolhouse, which had a long fire place across the end of the room. The reading, writing and little arithmetic obtained here, before he was twelve years old, was the principal educational start Mr. Deere had for life. He afterwards attended private school for a few months, but the inborn inclination for active practical work must assert itself, and the career began, which, for unconquerable energy, determined will, and self-made success, has few equals, if any superiors. Becoming tired of the schoolroom, he hired himself to a tanner to grind bark, and the pair of shoes and suit of clothes purchased with the wages were the first inclination the mother had of John’s doings. At the age of seventeen he became an apprentice to Captain Benjamin Lawrence, and began learning the blacksmith trade. He faithfully worked out his engagement of four years, and was then employed in the shop of William Wells and Ira Allen, to construct iron wagons, buggies and stagecoaches. A year later he was in Burlington, and did the entire wrought iron work on the saw and linseed oil mill built at Colchester Falls. This indicates the mechanical ability of the young man; for it must be remembered that work which is now done by machinery, in those days must depend upon the skill and strength of the...

Biography of Judge John W. Spencer

Judge John W. Spencer, deceased, one of the pioneers of Rock Island County, was born at Vergennes, Vermont, July 25, 1801. His parents, Calvin and Ruth (Hopkins) Spencer, were natives of the New England Colonies. The father of Judge Spencer was born in Bennington, Vermont, and his mother near Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and were descended from the Puritan English. They reared four sons and a daughter, John W., being the eldest. At this writing the first and second generations here mentioned are long since gathered unto their fathers, and only the grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren remain to perpetuate names made honorable in the earliest history of our county. From the two families united by the marriage of Calvin Spencer and Ruth Hopkins, in the very beginning of the past century, many noble men have sprung-men who have adorned alike the pulpit and the state; and if it were possible in the space at our command to trace the genealogy of the Spencers and the Hopkinses from the days when some of their ancestors were enforcing in a judicial capacity, the quaint old laws that forbade travel on the Sabbath except in a pious going to and from the Church of God, laws that allowed no whistling or other boisterous conduct on that sacred day; laws, indeed, that forbade “ye good man ye kissing of his wife on ye Sabbath day “if it were possible, we say, to follow the history of those families from their periwigged “squire-archy” down to the death-bed scene at Rock Island, February 20, 1878, from whence the spirit of John W. Spencer took its flight, the...

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