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W. M. Ealey, who has followed a varied and active career as a teacher, minister of the Gospel and as an earnest, hard-working citizen in whatever capacity life has called him, has for many years been a resident of Champaign County.
He was born near Brazil in Clay County, Indiana, May 18, 1853, a son of William and Wealthy (Hicks) Ealey, his father a native of Kentucky and his mother of Indiana. His mother was born August 30, 1834, and is still living at Urbana at the age of eighty-three. William Ealey went into the Union army from Indiana as a member of Company F of the One Hundred and Forty-ninth Indiana Infantry. After nine months he was discharged from duty on account of illness. He was a farmer by occupation, and in April, 1891, removed to Champaign County, Illinois, where his death occurred in August, 1895. Of his five children W. M. Ealey is the oldest. Clara J. is the wife of John Gibbens of Clay County, Indiana; Sarah A. is the wife of John Barnett of Saskatchewan, Canada; George, a resident of Clay County, Indiana; and Emma, wife of Albert Muncie of Brazil, Indiana.
W. M. Ealey grew up in Indiana, attended country schools and at the age of sixteen qualified as a teacher. He was actively engaged in the work of this profession for twenty years. He finally entered the ministry of the Christian Church and in 1889 removed to Urbana, from which point he carried on his work in the Gospel for a number of years until he retired about eight years ago. However, he has continued to preach funeral sermons and has officiated at more funerals than possibly any minister of any other denomination in this section of Illinois. In January, 1890, Mr. Ealey built the home in Urbana where he still resides, a two-story stucco residence.
He was married January 1, 1875, to Louisa Presnell, a native of Clay County, Indiana. They were married for over twenty-one years, and at her death on January 25, 1896, she left eight children: Minnie, who lives at Saline City, Indiana; Cora, wife of Angus McLean of Ohio; Homer, who for four years and four months was in the United States navy and is now living in Champaign; Elmer, foreman of a planing mill at Urbana; Edgar of Modesta, California; Effie, wife of George F. Hensel of Denver, Colorado; Grace, wife of Charles Tillotson of Urbana; and Miss Burdelle, an art teacher in the public schools of Urbana. On December 25, 1901, Rev. Mr. Ealey married Susanna H. Harris of Bellefontaine, Ohio, a daughter of Rev. J. G. Harris, a minister of the English Lutheran Church and one of the best educated men in the State of Ohio in his day. Rev. Mr. Harris was a linguist, being the master of eight languages and preached in both English and German. He was of English descent.
Mr. Ealey is now serving his second term as township assessor. Politically he is a Republican and has been a member of the Masonic order for thirty-nine years and also belongs to the Eastern Star, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs and the Court of Honor. He is a faithful member of the Christian Church.