Collection: A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois

Biography of Elizabeth Clark Jenkinson

Elizabeth Clark Jenkinson, daughter of the late venerable John Clark of Gifford, whose career has been fully sketched in preceding pages, resides on one of the fine farming estates around Gifford and some special mention should be made of her family. She is the wife of Mr. Alfred Jenkinson, who was born at Lacon, Illinois, a son of Benjamin and Mary A. (Willy) Jenkinson. Benjamin Jenkinson was born in Yorkshire, England, and his wife in Leicestershire, England. They immigrated to America at an early day and were married at Lacon, Illinois, in 1857. Of their ten children Alfred was the oldest. The children all attended district schools in Marshall County, Illinois, and experienced the hardships incident to pioneer life. The Jenkinson family lived in a log house, and their efforts served to reclaim a portion of Illinois soil to cultivation. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Jenkinson began their wedded life on his father’s estate half a mile north of Gifford. Here Mr. Jenkinson has found ample opportunities to prove his ability as a farmer and his business judgment has enabled him to acquire a farm of 200 acres. Their family consists of four children, Clemens J., Mary Isabel, Jessie Virginia and John Benjamin. The education and training of these children were a primary consideration of Mr. and Mrs. Jenkinson from the beginning. They sent them to the...

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Biography of John A. Clark

John A. Clark. Among the numerous families of Champaign County whose activities have contributed materially to its upbuilding and the promotion of its best interests that of Clark stands prominent. Now living retired at Rantoul, Mr. John A. Clark spent the best years of his active career as a successful farmer, and he reared and liberally provided for his family through the fruits of his toil in the fields of this county. Mr. Clark is a son of John and Jean (Butters) Clark, both of whom were born and reared among the hills and heather of Scotland. John Clark’s heart was won by a Scotch lassie and he succeeded in persuading her to change her name. The young people were possessed of characteristic energy and progressiveness, strong traits of the native Scotch. It was their ardent desire to cast their lot with the New World, concerning which they had heard wonderful stories. On the day following their wedding, when the festivities of the occasion were scarcely ended, John and Jane Clark started for America. The future was rainbowed with promises, and seen through a rosy tint of bright anticipation they courageously undertook to carve out their own fortune. After landing in New York they lived there two years and then removed to Cook County, Illinois, and still later to Champaign County. From time to time children came into their...

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Biographical Sketch of Paul J. Strahle

Paul J. Strahle is one of the younger business men of Champaign, is active and aggressive, and has already acquired a secure position as a unit in the commercial community. A native of Champaign, he was born February 20, 1892, the only son and child of John G. and Catherine (Dawson) Strahle. His mother was born in England and died at Champaign, March 1, 1912. John G. Strahle is also a native of Champaign County, was for a number of years a tailor by trade, but is now associated with his son in business. Educated in the public schools of Champaign, Paul J. Strahle early evinced a strong inclination and tendency for mechanical pursuits and he served an apprenticeship which in itself constituted the equivalent of a technical university course. For a time he was in the engineering department of the Cadillac Company at Detroit, also with the Studebaker Company, and from there removed to Dayton. Ohio, and had a thorough course of training in the engineering departments of the Delco plant. Mr. Strahle is an expert electrician and is master of practically every technical detail connected with the construction, assembling and repair of automobiles. In March, 1915, he engaged in business for himself at Champaign in electrical supplies and garage. He is now manager and proprietor of the Willard Service Station there. Mr. Strahle is unmarried. He is...

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Biography of Joseph Kerr

Joseph Kerr. One of the oldest and most honored names in Champaign County is that of Kerr, and its substantial qualities are fittingly commemorated by that name being assigned to one of the prosperous townships. It is in section 5 of this township that Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kerr reside and have their fine country home. Mr. Joseph Kerr has for many years been a hard working and prosperous farmer and has a great deal of real accomplishment to his credit. He was born in Kerr Township, a son of Samuel and Betsy Ann (Taylor) Kerr. His father was born in Ohio and his mother in Kentucky. Samuel Kerr, who was of Scotch-Irish stock, was one of the earliest pioneers of Champaign County and the first settler in the Sugar Grove community. He located there when his. nearest neighbor was six miles away. The country was a raw and unbroken prairie. There were no railroads nor towns, and the Kerr home was a nucleus around which other settlers gradually gathered and began the development of one of the finest sections of the entire county. Samuel Kerr was not only a hard working pioneer but a man of splendid character, and it was for him that the township was named. Mr. Joseph Kerr grew up in this county, attended the local schools, and started life independently when he married Emma...

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Biography of William H. Zorger, M. D.

William H. Zorger, M. D. For thirty-one years Doctor Zorger has practiced his profession in DeWitt and Champaign counties. He is a talented physician, has the advantage of long and thorough experience, and has been trained in the best schools of this country and by extensive observation and study here and abroad. His able assistant and partner not only in life but in his profession is his wife, who is one of the pioneer women of the state to take up medicine as a profession and is one of the best equipped specialists in Champaign County. Doctor Zorger was born in DeWitt County, Illinois, September 5, 1860, a son of Jacob S. and Margaret (Miller) Zorger. His father was born in York County, Pennsylvania, and in 1833 removed to Monticello, Illinois. He established a mill, which for a number of years was the only mill to supply flour and meal to a large section of country. The mill was sold to Mr. Collins in 1858, and he in turn sold it to Mr. McIntosh, and for many years it was known as the McIntosh Mill. Jacob S. Zorger died at Weldon, Illinois, in 1902, and his widow is still living there. Of their ten children five are living, and Doctor Zorger was the fifth in order of birth. Doctor Zorger spent his early life in his father’s home, had...

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Biography of Louis William Schluter

Louis William Schluter. A splendid farm and country estate two miles east of Gifford represents the toil and effort and expenditure of character and industry on the part of the Schluter family covering a long period of years. The present manager of that farm, and one who knows full well how to get the best out of the soil, is Louis William Schluter, a young and progressive farmer whose activities have brought him commendable prominence among the agriculturists of this section. Mr. Schluter’s home is in section 36 of Kerr Township. He is a native of Champaign County and a son of John William and Gesche (Fecht) Schluter. His parents were both born in Germany but came to America when single and were married in this country. They first located in Adams County, Illinois, and then came to Champaign County. They possessed the sturdy characteristics of the German fatherland, and by energy and economy secured the comforts of their simple home and gradually expanded their holdings to the possession of a very splendid estate. For a long time John W. Schluter worked for wages of $13 a month. There came a time when he was able to buy his first land, and he gradually accumulated more until his estate consisted of 480 broad acres, improved with excellent buildings, shade trees, and altogether constituting one of the most attractive farms...

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Biography of Jesse Meharry

Jesse Meharry. One of the largest farming estates in Champaign County is that of the Jesse Meharry family, now managed and operated by the sons of the late Jesse Meharry. Mr. Meharry was a notable figure in Champaign County affairs, not only as a land owner, farmer and stockman, but as a public spirited citizen. He was born in Montgomery County, Indiana, October 9, 1835. He was of Scotch-Irish and Welsh extraction. Concerning his ancestry it is said that during the reign of “Bloody” Queen Mary his forefathers escaped by going to Ireland. After several generations some of the family located in Pennsylvania, near Connelsville. Later they moved to Adams County, Ohio. The parents of Jesse Meharry were Thomas and Eunity (Patton) Meharry. Thomas Meharry was born April 27, 1799, in Adams County, Ohio. Eunity Patton was born in Brown County, Ohio, August 16, 1802. They married in December, 1827. Soon after their marriage the young people moved to near Wingate, Indiana, in Montgomery County, where they lived the remainder of their lives. He was a man of splendid business ability and acquired a large amount of land not only in Indiana but in Illinois. Thomas Meharry died January 29, 1874. He was the father of seven children: Mrs. Jane P. Dick, William, Mrs. Ellen Martin, Jesse, Mrs. Polly A. McCorkle, Abraham P. and Isaac. Jesse Meharry was raised...

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Biographical Sketch of Leo H. Bireline

Leo H. Bireline, one of the youngest business men of Champaign, is successfully engaged in the metal roofing business, an industry which he learned during his youth, his father being also connected with the same line of business. Mr. Bireline was born in Danville, Illinois, June 19, 1894, a son of Henry and Emma (Diehl) Bireline, both of whom were also natives of Danville. His parents are still living at Danville and his father conducts a roofing and sheet metal works in that city. There were five children in the family: Catherine Ellen, wife of W. A. Meek of Danville; Robert, who is associated with his brother Leo in business at Champaign; Leo; Florence and Emily, both at home with their parents. Leo H. Bireline grew up in Danville, attended the city schools, spent two years in high school and finished his education in Brown’s Business College at Danville. There he took a bookkeeping and general business course, and with that equipment and with the experience he had acquired under his father he came to Champaign to take charge of the local branch of the sheet metal and roofing business. This business in its subsequent growth now requires all his time and active attention. The headquarters of the business is a large building 25×125 feet, with ample facilities for a perfect service in their particular line. Mr. Bireline married...

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Biography of Peter Peterson

Peter Peterson. For many years the late Peter Peterson was a resident of Champaign, was a quiet and industrious business man, acquired considerable property and made his name influential and honored in this community. A native of Sweden, Mr. Peterson was born in 1848. He was twenty-one years of age when he left his native land and came to America in 1869, soon afterward locating in the city of Champaign. He had received his education in Sweden and was well fitted for a life of activity. He engaged in the dray and transfer business at Champaign, and conducted that actively for nearly forty years. He was in the full vigor of his powers almost until the last, and his death occurred in Champaign in August, 1909. He was married in 1871, at Champaign, to Marian Christina Olson. She was born in Sweden and came to Champaign in 1870. Mrs. Peterson is still living, but an invalid and has lost the power of speech. She has one of the comfortable homes of Champaign, owns considerable property, and her constant attendant in her declining years is her daughter, Mrs. Sophie J. Parr. The only son of Mrs. Peterson, Charles J. Peterson, lives in Chicago, Illinois. Mrs. Sophie J. Parr was born in Champaign. She is a highly educated woman and has long been identified with public school work in Champaign. She...

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Biography of David G. Fisher

David G. Fisher, now living retired at Champaign, began farming in this county nearly half a century ago. He realizes as few men still living do the difficulties and the handicaps to which farming was subject in those early years, and he has also realized along with extensive experience financial independence and the success which is the object of all ambitious men. Mr. Fisher was born in Fulton County, Illinois, December 3, 1839. His parents, Frederick and Sarah (Fouts) Fisher, were both born in Clark County, Indiana. When they went to Illinois in 1833 they passed through Champaign County, but sought what to them seemed a better location in Fulton County. There they lived prosperously the rest of their days as farmers and both of them died in that county. Their children were: Jacob, John, Henry, Cynthia, all now deceased; Mary, who still resides in Fulton County; Sarah, wife of Marion Kimberland, of Missouri; David G.; Clara, deceased; Isabel, living at Canton in Fulton County, widow of Jacob Fouts; Elizabeth, deceased; Ellen, wife of Thomas Beets, of Kokomo, Indiana; and Fred L., of Canton, Fulton County. David G. Fisher was reared and educated in Fulton County. He left home at the age of twenty-four and bought a farm of 140 acres near Canton and was busy with its cultivation and management until ill health compelled him to give up...

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Biography of William Tomlinson

William Tomlinson. One of the oldest residents of Champaign County is Mr. William Tomlinson, whose home is at Penfield in Kerr Township. Mr. Tomlinson has experienced more than the average trials and ordeals of existence and he is well entitled to the esteem and respect that he enjoys in his community. Mr. Tomlinson was born in the Village of Franklin, near the City of Indianapolis, in Marion County, Indiana, a son of Robert and Rachel (Sheets) Tomlinson. His parents were both born in Indiana and his Grandfather Sheets was of German descent. Mr. Tomlinson was one of eight children, seven sons and one daughter. When he was a child his father died and a little later his mother passed away at Carlyle on the Mississippi River. William Tomlinson came to Vermilion County, Illinois, with his uncle, Elisha Crawford, in 1849, when ten years old. He came to Champaign County in 1852, and arrived here a poor and friendless boy with no money and with nothing except his own determined ambition to stand him in good stead while making a way in the busy world. For a year he worked for a farmer at $6.50 a month, and his hours of employment were from sunup to sundown. When Mr. Tomlinson came to Champaign County there were no railroads and very few towns. The nearest market place for mail and other...

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Biography of Judge Joseph Oscar Cunningham

Judge J. O. Cunningham. The publishers and editors of this work feel that only a meager tribute can be paid to the memory of Champaign County’s most beloved citizen in the following brief review of his life. Judge Cunningham was a great historian. He contributed liberally to historical literature, was himself the author of a History of Champaign County, and in the closing months of his life he gave generously from the riches of his great collection and from his experience and memory in an advisory capacity to the compilation of the present work. Joseph Oscar Cunningham was born at Lancaster in Erie County, New York, December 12, 1830, and died at his home, 922 West Green Street, Urbana, on April 30, 1917, when in his eighty-seventh year. He was a son of Hiram Way and Eunice (Brown) Cunningham. Some of his early life was spent in northern Ohio, where he attended Baldwin Institute at Berea and also Oberlin College. In June, 1853, at the age of twenty-two, he came to Champaign County, and from that time forward his home was at Urbana. He had previously taught in the village school at Eugene, Indiana, but a month after his arrival at Urbana became associated as one of the proprietors and editors of the Urbana Union. He was a member of this firm of Cunningham & Flynn until 1858, and...

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Biography of Albert C. Burnham

Albert C. Burnham. Even the most casual visitor in Champaign is accustomed to associate the name Burnham with that city, where two of its most prominent institutions bear the name. It is true in a broad sense that the good or evil men do in their days lives after them, but seldom does this continuing influence take a better form of concrete benefit than in the Burnham Athenaeum Library and the Julia F. Burnham Hospital in Champaign. They are memorials with a purpose, and a reaction for good day after day upon the lives of thousands in the community which the late Albert C. Burnham did so much to enrich and improve. There was little significance attached at the time to the quiet advent of Albert C. Burnham into the law office of J. B. McKinley as a student in the spring of 1862. He was “practically unknown, but a’t the end of thirty-five years of labor as a lawyer, banker and business man his work was firmly entrenched in the esteem and the business fabric of the community. Albert C. Burnham was born at Deerfield, Michigan, February 20, 1839, and died at Champaign, September 13, 1897. He had the training of a Michigan farm boy. His early education was from the public schools. During the years 1860-61 he taught school during the winter months in Iroquois County, Illinois....

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Biography of William W. Earnest

William W. Earnest. Firmly entrenched in the American heart is the public school system, which, while not perfect perhaps, is continually being improved, largely as the result of the efforts of conscientious, intellectual leaders. The city of Champaign in its superintendent of schools has a well qualified, constructive man, a graduate of the University of Illinois and a thorough teacher as well as executive. He is William W. Earnest, who has occupied this responsible office for the past nine years. William W. Earnest was born in Mississippi, October 1, 1863, one of a family of three children born to his parents, who were John W. and Julia J. (Woolley) Earnest. Both parents were natives of Illinois, the father born in Sangamon and the mother in Greene County. Both are now deceased, the death of the father occurring in 1902. He was one of the Argonauts who, in 1850, went to California in search of gold, of which he found enough to pay for his time, and he had many interesting experiences and adventures. From California he returned to Illinois, but afterward went to Mississippi and was engaged in managing sawmills there at the outbreak of the war between the states and found it impossible to escape from a situation embarrassing to a northern man until the opening of the Mississippi and Yazoo mines in the spring of 1864. Later...

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Biographical Sketch of Egbert Davison Burnham

Egbert Davison Burnham is the only surviving son of the late Albert C. Burnham, long prominent as a pioneer lawyer and banker at Champaign and whose career is more fully noted on other pages. Robert Davison Burnham learned banking with his father, but for many years has been actively engaged in the farm loan business, with offices in the First National Bank Building. He was born in Champaign, February 19, 1872, one of the five children of the late A. C. Burnham and wife. Three of these children died in infancy. Mr. Burnham was the oldest and the second in age was Mary Bruce, now wife of Newton M. Harris. Mr. Burnham was liberally educated, though he did not complete a university course. He attended the University of Illinois and also the famous college preparatory school at Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He left school to take a position in his father’s office in the Burnham, Trevett & Mattis Banking Company. He was well trained in the details of banking, but in a short time left his father’s office to form a partnership with his brother-in-law, Newton M. Harris, in the farm loan business. Mr. Burnham has the public spirit of his honored father, has been a member of the Park Commission of Champaign, and is now serving on the Public Library Board. He is a member of the Episcopal church....

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