Alexander Funkhouser. Some men go through the world, subject to its various experiences, doing their work well and accumulating property, but after all is said and done they apparently have not placed the proper emphasis upon life as living and have not accentuated the many interests which lie around them. Of those families of Champaign County that seem to have realized most adequately the breadth and fullness and depth of life and its possibilities perhaps none deserve mention more than the household of Alexander Funkhouser. Mr. Funkhouser is a prominent farmer near Rantoul, and his activities have been closely identified with Champaign County since boyhood days.
He is a son of James and Rachel Funkhouser, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania. The original ancestors of the Funkhousers were three brothers who emigrated from Holland to America in early days, and their descendants still have the sterling qualities that marked the family back in Holland. James and Rachel Funkhouser had only two children, Alexander and Sarah.
Alexander Funkhouser was born two and a half miles from Greensburg in Decatur County, Indiana. He was eight years of age when he came with his parents to Champaign County. They arrived in this county October 19, 1857. Here the family experienced the various hardships and privations incident to their day. They possessed powers of endurance and were always willing to sacrifice present comfort for the sake of future good, and thus they surmounted seemingly insurmountable barriers and came to take their place in the ranks of the sturdy tillers of the soil whose business in life is to make old mother earth yield her rich increase. The passing years have shown that their labor was not in vain.
Young Alexander Funkhouser went to work in earnest to assist his father in cultivating the new farm in Champaign County. His first employment was in dropping corn. In those days such a thing as tiling fields was not known. The water frequently filled all the ditches and remained there a good part of the spring and early summer, and in order that the corn might not rot it had to be carefully dropped and covered on top of the furrows. Also as a barefooted boy he herded cattle on the Thomasboro flats, keeping a sharp lookout for the snakes that infested the place. He would quench his thirst by drinking water through a straw or reed from the numerous holes made by the cattle’s feet. That way of drinking was a common custom in early days, and is said to have explained the reason why the inhabitants of Illinois were called “Suckers.”
As the boy grew to manhood he had an earnest purpose for the future and laid the foundation of his own home and fortune by his union with Miss Adie James. To visit these good people in their home today, which possesses all the marks of a plenteous comfort, and see their fine sons and daughters and witness the cheery atmosphere of home life, one would quickly decide Mr. Funkhouser had not made any mistake in the choice of his life’s partner.
Adie James was a daughter of Thomas J. and Almeda James, both natives of Indiana. The old home of the family was near Terre Haute. They early migrated to Champaign County. Thomas James died in Stanton Township of Champaign County. To their marriage were born fourteen children, and the seven still living are Adie, Mrs. Funkhouser; Alice, Gary, Lizzie, Chauncey, George and Hugh. The children of the James family all derived their education from the district schools.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Funkhouser took up their joint partnership as farmers. Through the strictest economy and by long continued saving they were able to purchase their first land, which consisted of eighty acres. To this they added from time to time until they now own 160 acres in Rantoul Township, 160 acres in Ford County and 150 acres in Vermilion County.
Into their home and to gladden their hearts have come twelve children, eight sons and four daughters. Their names were: Effie, Allie, Homer, Isaac, Charles, Btsel, Otis, Clinton, Frederick, Earl, Lena and a daughter that died in infancy. Charles is also deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Funkhouser gave their children all the advantages to be obtained in the country school district and later sent them to high school at Rantoul.
The daughter Effie was for four years a successful teacher in Champaign County and married an educator, G. E. Wright, and they now live in Des Moines, Iowa. They have a child, Cecil, a bright and energetic boy, who for two years filled the position of page in the Statehouse at Des Moines. He is an independent little fellow and began his business life as a newsboy and since the age of ten years has done his own banking.
Allie is the wife of L. F. Ledderboge, a resident of Bloomington, Illinois, from which city he travels as representative for the Portable Elevator Company. They have two sons, Lloyd and Clifford.
Homer married Miss Cora Moudy, and they live at Gerald, Vermilion County. The town of Gerald takes off eight acres from their farm. Their children are named Merle, Doris, Eugene, Lenore, Margaret, Christine and Emory.
Isaac Funkhouser married Sadie Hartsock, and he lives on the old Funkhouser farm. They have a son, Marion.
Etsel, who lives in Somer Township, married Julia Tracy, and they have one son, Richard Alexander, who was born on his grandfather’s birthday and was given the name of his grandfather.
Otis, who is a farmer near Gifford, married Evelyn Bailey.
Clinton is a farmer near Rantoul and married Opal Mulvany.
Lena is the wife of Claud Ziegler, and they live on a farm in Ford County. Their daughter was named Mabrie Wilson.
Frederick married May Colwell. Earl remains at home.
As the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Funkhouser married and left home the parents wisely exerted themselves so as to give proper opportunities to their sons and keep them at home and busy as long as possible. They therefore rented a 400-acre ranch, the old Richard estate near Rantoul, and that has proved a very wise arrangement, since it gives ample opportunities for the boys to practice agriculture and work out their destinies for themselves without going away from home.
The family are active members of the Christian Church at Rantoul, and in politics Mr. Alexander Funkhouser is a strong Democrat and believes the present incumbent of the White House is not only the man of the hour but the man whom destiny has marked out to be one of the greatest factors in the settlement of the problems of the world. Mr. Funkhouser is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen of the World, and all his sons who have reached the proper age have membership in the Odd Fellows lodge and all are enthusiastic workers in that fraternity. A portrait shows the picture of the father and seven sons wearing the regalia of Odd Fellowship, and this photograph indicates that the father as well as the sons have attained the stations of past grand masters. Mr. and Mrs. Funkhouser have lost no opportunity to lead exemplary lives before their family and instill in them principles of manly conduct and true American citizenship. Their hospitable home for years has echoed ringing laughter and merry voices of boys and girls, and it has been a center for the social gatherings of the neighborhood. Mrs. Funkhouser is a fine type of the American woman who believes in rearing her boys to fill places of usefulness in the great busy avenues of life and finds little satisfaction in the glories of war, which she believes is not the true field for American manhood.
The jovial spirit of Alexander Funkhouser is contagious. Neither he nor his wife believe in growing old in spirit, and they always have a cheerful word for everyone. In 1916 Rantoul held a Halloween carnival pageant. All the participants were garbed in costume. Among them was a jolly old black mammy, gaily decorated in the bright colors so dear to the race. Her appearance on the street amid the revelers was hailed with hearty delight. She looked as though she had just emigrated from a southern plantation. Many guesses were made as to who she was. It was the signal for added mirth and pleasure when it was discovered that she was Mrs. Alexander Funkhouser, a gray-haired grandmother, with her heart young as in her girlhood days. At that carnival Mr. and Mrs. Funkhouser received a fine prize for having the largest family.