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Biography of James W. Harper

James W. Harper, who is now living retired in a beautiful semi-country home at the village of Ogden, has been a factor in this section of Champaign County for many years. His associates speak of Mr. Harper as a man, meaning thereby not only his physical strength, but strength of determination, of purposeful conduct, and of notable public spirit displayed in his efforts to advance wherever possible the welfare of the community. Mr. Harper was born at Dana in Vermilion County, Indiana, August 23, 1865, a son of John and Amanda (Dikes) Harper. Both parents were born at Rockville in the same Indiana county. The Dikes family came originally from Kentucky. John Harper and wife had five children, one son and four daughters. About fifty-two years ago the family moved to Vermilion County, Illinois, locating at Pilot Grove, and still later in Champaign County, settling in Ogden Township. John Harper was one of the most successful men of Champaign County and much of his ability was inherited by his only son, James. He was quick, intelligent and industrious, and had the faculty of using his means for redoubled profit and advantage. At the time of his death he owned an estate of 800 acres. The Harper children all attended the district school known as the Hope School. James W. Harper was educated there, and as he grew up he learned farming from his father and emulated his skill and competence as a business manager. On October 1, 1890, Mr. Harper married Miss Mary E. Canady. She was born in Ogden Township, daughter of Asbury and Drusilla (Divan) Canady. The...

Biography of Benjamin Franklin McGath

Benjamin Franklin McGath is one of the old-timers in Champaign County, and has witnessed its growth and development since 1861, the same year that he went out to do service as a Union soldier. He made a creditable record in the army and his entire life has been a record of patriotic devotion and duties worthily and successfully performed. His birth occurred in Vermilion County, Indiana, March 15, 1841. He is the only survivor of a family of ten children, six sons and four daughters, born to William and Nancy (Fannon) McGath. He was the eighth in order of birth. His father was born near Wilmington, Ohio, grew up and received his education there and also married in Ohio and went across the country in pioneer style to Indiana and settled on a farm in Vermilion County in the valley of the Wabash River. His death occurred there about 1847 and he was one of the pioneers in that section. He was a Jeffersonian Democrat and he and his wife were active Methodists. His wife was born in Ohio and was of German ancestry. She was a kind and loving mother, and after her husband’s death she lived for sixteen years at the home of her son Benjamin, and her death occurred in 1900. She was laid to rest at Mansfield. Benjamin F. McGath grew up in Indiana, acquired a common school education, and came to Illinois when twenty years of age. He had been here only a short time when he enlisted in the Second Illinois Cavalry under Colonel Berry. He was trained and equipped in the Springfield...

Biography of John William Wilhoit, M. D.

John William Wilhoit, M. D. For a period of more than thirty years Doctor Wilhoit had quietly and efficiently preformed his services as a doctor at St. George and is the oldest resident physician of that town of Pottawatomie County, one of the oldest established in this part of the state. Doctor Wilhoit is a man of high standing in his profession, with attainments that rank him among the leaders of the profession in the state. Perhaps there are none who will say he had not chosen wisely in spending his career in a country community where the opportunities for service are just as great as in a city and where he had enjoyed the rewards of community esteem in a richer degree than are ever paid to the city practitiomer. Doctor Wilhoit is a Kentuckian, born in Carter County August 12, 1853. His grandfather, John William Wilhoit, was a native of Germany, and came to this country with four brothers, who settled respectively in Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri and Indiana, while he located in Bath County, Kentucky, as a pioneer farmer. he was unable to speak a word of English when he arrived in America. He spent his life as a farmer in Bath County and died there before Doctor Wilhoit was born. James A. Wilhoit, father of Doctor Wilhoit, was born in Bath County in 1815, and his life was spent in his native state, chiefly in Carter County. He was an industrious and capable farmer. His sympathies were with the North when the war broke out and he offered his services to the Union army but was...

Biographical Sketch of Shep Florer

Shep Florer, farmer; P. O. Oakland; born in Newport, Vermilion Co., Ind., March 29, 1839; he was the son of Alexander B. Florer, of the early pioneers of that county, and who was elected Second County Clerk, which office he held fourteen years; was elected Recorder of the county several times, which office he held for many years; he was also an eminent lawyer of that part of the State of Indiana until his death, which occurred Aug. 9, 1863; Shep Florer was raised in the above county at the age of 14, he commenced clerking for Jones, Culbertson & Co., and at 17 he was appointed Deputy Auditor of the county under Henry D. Washburn, and afterward as Deputy Clerk and Recorder at 20 years of age; he did a heavy grocery trade in that town; at the beginning of the war, he enlisted in Co. C. 18th Ind. Vols., and served his country three years as private messenger for Col. Tom Patterson and Gen. H. D. Washburn. On Sept. 23, 1864, he located with his mother, A. A. Florer, at Milton Station, Coles Co., Ill., where he sold general merchandise for five years, and on the 11th day of October, 1870, he moved to his mother’s farm of 529 acres, situated in Morgan Tp., Coles Co., where he now resides. He married June 4, 1866, to Louisa A. Hawkins; she was born in Rush Co., Ind., March 7, 1846; she removed with her parents to Coles Co., Ill., in 1850, where her father and stepmother now reside; five children were the fruit of this union, two of...

Biography of James Morgan

James Morgan, farmer, Sec. 20; P. O. Oakland; one of the early pioneers of Coles Co.; born in Vermilion Co., Ind., April 20, 1830; he was the youngest son of David Morgan, who was born in Washington Co., Ky., Nov. 18, 1797; he emigrated from Kentucky to Indiana with his family, where he lived until he emigrated to Coles Co., Ill., where he located April 20, 1834, in what is now Morgan Tp., the township being named in honor of David Morgan. He married Oct. 7, 1818, to Jane Rodman she was born in Kentucky, June 9, 1799; six children were the fruit of this union, five of whom emigrated to Illinois with the family at the above date, one having died in infancy; the names of the living were Sarah, Catharine J., Mary E., William and James; Mr. Morgan died Sept. 10, 1860; Mrs. Morgan died Jan. 31, 1832. The subject of this sketch was 4 years of age when he emigrated to Coles Co,, Ill., in 1834; he lived with his parents until 19 years of age, when he managed the farm until the decease of his father, since which time he has continued to live upon the old homestead, where he has lived for a period of forty-five years; he owns upon his home farm 112 acres, and 8 acres of timber in Oakland Tp.; when Mr. Morgan came here, Indian camps were along the river, wolves and game were plenty, and Mr. Morgan remembers his first labor in his boyhood as watching and protecting the sheep from destruction by the wolves during the day, the...

Biography of Bert Leroy Chapman

Bert Leroy Chapman. Aggressive methods, keen insight into commercial conditions, a thorough and far-reaching appreciation of the needs of the trade, are characteristics which develop a man into a successful factor in the business life of any community and result in the founding and development of concerns that give that community prestige. Conditions today are so complex, competition is so keen, and the needs of the world are increasing so rapidly that every branch of commercial and industrial life feels the impetus of the times. The day of slow and sure business policies is gone; the business enterprises of today are conducted along entirely different lines than those of our forefathers, and the men who attain success are those who are possessed of power of initiative, resource and aggression. One of the most enterprising of the merchants of Fisher is Bert Leroy Chapman, senior member of the hardware firm of Chapman & Wade. This young business man has achieved success and reputation at a time when many men are merely starting upon their careers, and the characteristics above noted have been important concomitants in the working out of his career. Bert Leroy Chapman was born in Vermilion County, Indiana, September 18, 1878, the third in a family of three sons born to Nelson and Rosanna (Sims) Chapman. He has one brother living, Pearl Albert Chapman, who was educated in the common schools and is now editor and manager of the Bellflower News at Bellflower, McLean County, Illinois. He married Miss Laura McGowan, and has four children. Nelson Chapman was born in Indiana of English ancestry, and spent his career...

Biography of Hezekiah J. Ashmore

Hezekiah J. Ashmore, deceased, late of Ashmore, and for whom the township and village was named, was born in Kentucky Sept. 30, 1802; he was a son of Samuel and Letitia (Guthrie) Ashmore; his parents removed to Murray Co., Tenn., when he was a child, and when he was about 12 years old to Illinois, settling on the Wabash River, about twelve miles south of Terre Haute. He was married May 24, 1825, to Miss Elizabeth Black, a daughter of John Black; she was born in Muhlenburg Co., Ky., Dec. 10, 1807, and came at the age of 4 years to the then Territory of Illinois. About the year 1828 he removed to Vermilion Co., where he remained till February 1831, when he removed to Coles Co. His mother had died several years before in the Wabash country, and his father having married Miss Ruth Cowan, had removed in 1829 to Coles Co. and settled in what is now East Oakland Tp., where he died in 1836, and his wife some four years afterward. Mr. Ashmore also located in the same township, and putting up a log cabin as he had done twice before, he began to open a farm; after a residence there of about five years, he sold his farm, and removing to a point about two and a half miles northwest of the present village of Ashmore; he purchased a large tract of land, and became the largest land-owner in the township, owning at one time some 1,600 acres; he engaged largely in stock-raising, and continued that during his residence on the farm; he laid off...

Biographical Sketch of John W. Thompson

It is always a pleasure to outline the career of an honest, upright and progressive man, who has left the more thickly settled portions of the country, pressing out into the regions of wildness to bring them under the sway of civilization’s uplifting influences, spending, meanwhile, sturdy effort and drawing upon an exhaustless store of courage and determination to accomplish this worthy end and so we turn with zest to chronicle the events in the life of the capable and worthy citizen, whose name initiates this paragraph, since he has displayed qualities that are priceless, and manifested virtues and abilities that commend the admiration of all, while his straightforwardness and substantial and well rounded character have invited confidence that is not misplaced. John W.┬áThompson was born in Vermilion County, Indiana, on February 18, 1837, being the son of John E. and Elizabeth (Meyers) Thompson, natives respectively of Virginia and Maryland. Before coming to Vermilion County, the father had been occupied as a mechanic at Harper’s Ferry. When the immediate subject of this sketch was one year of age, the parents removed to Scott county, Iowa, being the third family that settled there. The father bought land from the government and set to work to make a home from the wild prairies. He was favored with success and was numbered with the prominent men of the county, and there he was called from the labors of this world to the scenes beyond, the year being 1852. In 1888, the mother died in Nicollet County, Minnesota. Our subject remained at home until May 3, 1864, being twenty-seven years of age then....

Biography of Joseph Schoewaiter Smith

Joseph Schoewaiter Smith, was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, June 20, 1824. His ancestors at an early day emigrated from England and Wales and settled in New Jersey and their descendants are now scattered all over the United States. At the age of eight years he accompanied his parents to Clermont County, Ohio, and three years later to Vermilion County, Indiana. He received such education as a farmer’s boy of ambition could receive at that day in a pioneer neighborhood. During the summer he worked on the farm and in the winter attended such schools as the county afforded. He early evinced great fondness for books which stimulated his thirst for knowledge, and at the age of sixteen he left his home determined by his own exertions to obtain a better education than the limited means of his father would permit. From that time until he was nearly twenty he spent at school all the time which the hardest physical labor necessary to support himself would allow. In the fall of 1844 he started for Oregon. Several months were consumed in making the overland journey, the winter of 1844-5 being passed among the Indians in the Rocky Mountains, while every mile of the long journey to the settlement in the Willamette Valley was beset by perils and privations such as fell to the lot of the pioneer land emigrants to this portion of the northwest coast. In the spring of 1845 he reached Oregon City with only two companions, and soon after his arrival began the study of the law, supporting himself until his admission to the bar by...

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