Samuel Livingston is of the pioneer element of Champaign County. He came to this region sixty years ago. It was nearly sixty years ago that he and his young wife began the battle with existence on some of the broad and: virgin prairies of this section, and what they endured, what they achieved, the family that grew up around them, and the riches of esteem that were paid to them by their neighbors is worthy of something more than passing record.
Now living retired, Mr. Livingston since the death of his wife has found a home of every comfort for his declining years with
In 1859 he went back to Indiana, where he had left his sweetheart, Miss Letitia Shores. She was born in Indiana, a daughter of Meredith and Frankie L. Shores.
The father of Mrs. Livingston, Meredith Shores, had traveled all the way on horseback from North Carolina to New Goshen, near Terre Haute, Indiana. He was a young man at the time and was viewing out a place for a future home. One night he stopped at a farmhouse. All the family were out in the fields except a daughter, Frankie Tizer, a seventeen-year-old maiden, who was preparing dinner and going about her work with a great show of industry and energy. The principal and, to the young traveler, the most attractive part of the food was a loaf of corn bread which she was baking in an old-fashioned skillet at the open fireplace. As the tired and hungry traveler looked at the loaf he thought that he could eat it all, and at the same time with hunger there entered into his heart a desire to win and have the beautiful young cook for his bride. He was invited to dine after the fashion of pioneer hospitality that then prevailed, and while the bountiful but simple meal soon appeased his hunger, his love for the young girl strengthened and increased. The acquaintance thus begun ripened into love and ended with wedding bells. Meredith Shores lived to the age of forty-eight, but his wife, Frankie, attained the venerable age of ninety-seven. The energy which she displayed on that day when her future husband arrived at her home was characteristic of her entire life and she proved a very excellent manager and developed a splendid character of true womanhood.
When Samuel Livingston returned with his bride from Indiana he rented the Genung farm and conducted it for five years. He had the qualifications which make the successful man in every sphere and in time he and his wife were able to buy eighty acres, and later forty acres more, making them the owners of 120 acres, seven miles northwest of Rantoul. They paid $13 an acre for this land, but many years later they sold it for $225 an acre. In 1882 they left the farm and removed to Rantoul.
To Mr. and Mrs. Livingston were born six children: Ida M., Warren B., Rosa Lee, Minnie B., Cora E., Charles R. These children had the advantages of a good home and also attended the Maple Grove district school and the high school at Rantoul. Warren B. also attended school at Paxton, Illinois, and the Terre Haute Business College. Ida M. Livingston married Josiah Chaney, a farmer, and their home is in Burns, Kansas. Their five children are named Cora R., Ivaloo, Marian, Wilbur and Freddie. Rosa Lee married William B. Donovan, a painter and decorator at Rantoul. They have a daughter, Rena May, who was educated partly in Chicago and partly in the high school at Rantoul, and is now the wife of Edgar J. Burns, a resident of Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Burns have two children, Leroy B. and Edgar Dale, these being great-grandchildren of Mr. Samuel Livingston. Minnie B. Livingston married Professor Harold Lawrence, a resident of Yakima, Washington. Charles R. Livingston, who lives at Chrisman, Illinois, and is editor of the Chrisman Courier, married Nellie Murphy, and they have a daughter, Deniza Fayelle Livingston.
The usual assortment of joys and sorrows came to the Livingston family, and death took away the children until the only ones now living are Charles and Rosa Lee. The good mother passed away in 1913. Through her long life she had endeared herself to a large community by her Christian neighborliness and kindness, and she entered into rest with the benedictions of her family and friends. When her health began to fail her daughter, Mrs. Donovan, removed to Rantoul from Chicago and carefully nursed her through her last illness. Later Mr. and Mrs. Donovan built for themselves a commodious bungalow on Congress Avenue in Rantoul and here, with every comfort and the companionship of his devoted daughter, Mr. Livingston is spending his last days.
Both the Livingston and Donovan families are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Rantoul. Samuel Livingston has long been a regular voter of the Democratic ticket. Mr. Donovan usually supports the principles of politics rather than the party. In his younger years Samuel Livingston served eighteen years as constable of Rantoul.
Few families have been more closely identified with developing Champaign County over a longer period of years than the Livingstons. When Mr. and Mrs. Livingston first settled here the land was raw prairie. They bore the hardships with patience and perseverance and their labors were eventually crowned with success. When Mr. Livingston broke his prairie land, following the oxen back and forth over the fields, the wolves would frequently appear and at a safe distance follow him and the animals up and down. Both in the earlier years and later the Livingston home was noted for its hospitality. No needy person was ever turned away from the door uncared for.