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Charles Boys is one of the oldest residents of Champaign County, where he has witnessed the changes of fortunes of life in this community for over fifty years. Hard work has been the keynote of his career, and with that as a fundamental qualification it seems that everything he has touched has responded to his management and has served to increase his prosperity. Mr. Boys became one of the large land owners of Champaign County and was for years noted as one of the cattle kings of this section of Illinois.
He is a native of New England, son of Loren and Alvira Boys, also of New England stock. When he was a small child the parents removed to Chautauqua County, New York, and soon afterward to Michigan. Charles Boys while growing to manhood learned the trade of plasterer and brick-layer. From Michigan he went to Chicago, and remained there two years, working at his trade for wages of $1 a day, boarding and keeping himself.
It was on the 9th of September, 1852, that Mr. Boys left Chicago and came to Urbana. In that small town he spent another two years working at his trade. Then, at the age of twenty-two, he laid the foundation of his own home by his marriage to Matilda E. Morris. She was born in Pennsylvania, daughter of a physician and a well known former business man of Champaign County.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Boys remained in Urbana for six months, and he then accepted an invitation from Doctor Morris to move to Salt Fork and enter a partnership in a general mercantile ‘store. Merchandising was an item of his experience for one year, but keeping store proved too confining and was not satisfying to his disposition for a more active life. Leaving the store, he rented a farm near St. Joseph for five years, and there laid the foundation of his permanent prosperity. From his savings as a renter he bought 120 acres in St. Joseph Township, and as that transaction occurred many years ago the price of the land was only $10 an acre. On that farm he made his real substantial start in life. It was only a short time before he began adding to his holdings, purchasing the next year forty acres in Stanton Township. He was concerned not only with the cultivation of his land in the most practical way, but the construction of good building improvements, the planting of trees, arid always took care that his farm should measure up to the best standards of Champaign County rural life.
Mr. and Mrs. Boys had seven children: Benjamin, who died at the age of three years; Alvira, who died in infancy; and Ida M., Hannah H., Ella, Clint and William. The local district schools gave these children their early advantages, and those to grow up have since married and settled in homes of their own and have reflected honor upon their parents. Ida M. Boys is now the wife of Jesse Archer, a St. Joseph Township farmer, and their family consists of four children, Myrtle, Charles, Clint T. and Chester. The daughter Hannah is the wife of Charles Lehr, and also has four children, Roscoe, Cody, Beatrice and Opal. Ella married J. E. Hiser and is the mother of Charles, Raymond, Grace and Ruby. Clint married Ada Peeps and has two children, Fern and John. William remains on the old homestead and manages the place for his father. He married Minnie Vest, and their family consists of Charles, Opal and Esther.
The home of the Boys family has always been noted for its hospitality and the kindly, neighborly influences emanating there from. Mr. and Mrs. Boys gave their liberal support and membership to the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1895 the death angel entered this home and Mrs. Boys entered into rest. After her death Mr. Boys found his children willing and kindly home makers and has continued to live on the old farm. The years have liberally rewarded him with substantial success, and at the present time his holdings aggregate 1,000 acres. For many years he fed cattle on a large scale, buying in the fall and feeding until the stock were right for market. He is one of the men. who came to Champaign County with a very small stock of trade capital and has raised himself to a plane of affluence, has reared a family of industrious and capable children, and in his declining years a large community respects his activities and honors his character. His public spirit has been manifested chiefly in behalf of good schools in his community, and for a number of years he filled the office of school director.