Location: Coles County IL

Biography of W. L. Watson

W. L. Watson was born Vermilion County, Illinois, on the 22d of December, 1837. His father was William D. Watson, in his early life an itinerant Methodist preacher who traveled extensively through Indiana, having been born in the neighborhood of Vincennes, and in Fountain County, of that state, married Mary Low. His health finally failed him, and coming to Illinois, he located above Georgetown in Vermilion County. William Watson, the grandfather, was born in Kentucky, and when a young man settled in the vicinity of Vincennes, Indiana. W. L. was the oldest son and second child of the family. His father came to Douglas County, then Coles, in 1839, and located first on Brushy Fork, a short distance west of Newman. After a residence here of a year or two he moved to Camargo, and afterward to section 35, in Township 16, range 9, where he resided till his death, which occurred in October, 1858. His wife survived him till April, 1866. They had nine children. W. L. Watson was between four and five years old when his father located southeast of Camargo. At this latter place he mainly received his education, partly under the instruction of his father, who taught school at Camargo and was one of his first teachers. The old log school house stood about one hundred yards north of Alonzo Lion’s store, on the road...

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Biography of Stephen Redden

Stephen Redden was born in Bracken County, Kentucky, April 14, 1818, and was a son of James Redden, who, leaving a large family of children growing up, resolved to give them a better chance by going west. Consequently he made a flat-boat, and, with his family and several of his neighbors and their families, he embarked on the Ohio river for what was then considered the far west. Stephen Redden was at that time four years old. At Louisville they would not trust the flat-boat to carry them over the falls, but were put ashore and either walked or were conveyed in some other manner to Portland, just below the falls, where the boat landed and took them on board. They landed at Evansville, Indiana, sometime in the fall of 1822, and after disposing of the flat-boat and investing in an ox team Mr. Redden and family started for the land of promise, the Prairie state, while the other families cast their lot with the Hoosier state. It was no uncommon thing for them to meet bands of blanketed Indians and see droves of (leer, or to be “lulled to sleep” at night by the “music of the wolves,” on their journey from the Ohio River to the small village of Terre Haute, Indiana, which at that time consisted of a tavern, a few saloons and stores, and a...

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Biography of James L. Reat, M. D.

James Lee Reat, M. D., one of the most distinguished physicians and surgeons of Illinois, and who has been long and honorably connected with the professional and industrial interests of Douglas County, was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, January 26, 1824. The Reat ancestors are traced back to Scotland, where the name was pronounced in two syllables, with the accent on the last. Two brothers emigrated to this country during the war of the Revolution, one of whom espoused the cause of the rebels, the term by which the patriot colonies were then known, and served through that struggle with Washington’s forces. The other brother sided with the Tories, in consequence of which the two brothers became alienated and a total separation occurred between the two branches of the family. Dr. Reat is descended from the one who cast his fortunes with those of the patriots and who, after the war, settled in Frederick Town, Maryland. At this place James Reat (father) was born and subsequently found his way to Ohio, where he married Susanna Rogers, a Virginia lady, and with her settled in Fairfield County, Ohio. When our subject was five years old, his parents removed to Coles County, Illinois, where the father purchased a farm on which they resided for a time, then removed to Charleston and lived there up to the time of his death, in...

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Biographical Sketch of W. W. Pepper

W. W. Pepper, a popular lawyer and a successful young business man, was born on a farm seven miles south of Newman May 24, 1866, and is the eldest of seven children born to Dudley H. and Nancy Liston Pepper. His father was a native of Kentucky and resides at Oakland. Mr. Pepper received his early education in the public schools of Oakland and afterward took a three-years’ course in the University of Illinois in Champaign. After leaving the university he took a two-years’ law course at the Northwestern University at Evanston and was graduated with honor in 1893, shortly afterward being admitted to the bar. On June 28, 1890, Mr. Pepper married Miss Nora Hinds, of Hindsboro. In March, 1894, Mr. Pepper located in Newman and commenced the practice of law. He became at once deservedly popular and in May, 1895, was chosen city attorney, which office he filled with due honor until the expiration of his time. He was re-elected to the same office, but resigned to look after his other business. It can be truly said of him that he is a man peculiarly after his own style. He has no model and seeks after none, save that which is the creation of his own mind. Starting out in life as he did, without means, perseverance and energy constituted his only capital. He entered his profession...

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Biographical Sketch of John M. Madison

Within the past two years Tuscola has lost many of its oldest and most prominent citizens by death, but in the list none have been more sadly missed or sincerely mourned than our subject, John M. Madison, whose death occurred Monday, July 13, 1896. He was born in Harrison County, Kentucky, May 6, 1823, and was at the time of his death in the seventy-fourth year of his age. He belonged to a family of ten children; one brother and two sisters are still living: H. B. Madison, Tuscola ; Mrs. Harriet Parrish, of Cynthiana, Kentucky; and Mrs. Parmelia Carter, of Washington. On September 22, 1851, our subject married Miss Jennie Rankin, at Cynthiana, a good and noble woman, who preceded him to the grave only a few years. To them were born Harry, Robert and Fannie, all of whom reside in Tuscola, the two former composing the large clothing- house of Harry Madison & Company. In 1854 Mr. and Mrs. Madison came to Charleston, Illinois, where he opened up a store, and in 1860 they removed to Tuscola, where Mr. Madison engaged in the mercantile business, which he continued up to within two years of his death. For many years he conducted the leading general store in Tuscola and by his honesty and straightforward dealing with his fellow men prospered in a gratifying manner. He was a man...

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Biography of Malden Jones

In touching upon the history of Douglas County for the past sixty years, none have been more prominently connected with its growth and industrial expansion than the Hon. Malden Jones. He endured all the hardships incident to the rough pioneer life and has passed through a most honorable and enviable career. He is a native of Lee County, Virginia, and was born February 8, 1818 when a child he went with his parents to Kentucky, where he was reared and where, at about the age of seventeen, he entered a store as clerk and remained three years. In 1840 he came west, making the trip on horseback, settled with his brother, Alfred, five miles southwest of Arcola, and there engaged in farming and the live stock business. In 1848 he removed to his present locality and, in company with Mr. Gruelle, opened a general store about half a mile north of Bourbon, his store being the only one west of Charleston. He was engaged extensively in buying and selling cattle and horses, and drove them from his home to Wisconsin, which at that time was the only market worthy of the name in the west. They continued at this point about one year. Mr. Jones then built a store in Bourbon and laid out the town. He continued merchandising here about six years. In 1858 he was elected sheriff...

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Biography of Harrison Gill

It is fitting that in the biographies of the early settlers of the County some mention should be made of Harrison Gill, who entered among the first land here and lived near Camargo. The grandfather of Mr. Gill was born in Ireland. He came to America and settled m Virginia. His son, Samuel Cresswell Gill, r moved from Virginia to Kentucky and settled in Bath County. Here, on the Licking river, he built Gill’s mills, a noted point in that part of that state. He married Sarah Malone, by whom he had a large family of children, of whom Harrison Gill was the oldest, born in June, 1808. On arriving at the age of twenty-one he found himself in possession of a few hundred dollars, which his father advised him to invest in western lands. He accordingly traveled on horseback to Illinois, first to his uncle, Thomas Gill, in Cumberland County. He found his uncle busy shingling the roof of a house, and he told young Gill if he would help him finish the shingling he would go with him to Coles County in search of land. The first point above Charleston where they found any one living was Major Ashmore, at the mouth of Brushy Fork. North of that he came to an Indian camp, a French and Indian trading point, where Hugo, or Bridgeport, now is. His...

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Biographical Sketch of the Brown Brothers, Richard and Daniel

Brown Bros., Richard and Daniel, farming, stock and road grading and ditching; P. O. Humbolt; are natives of Nelson and Hardin Cos., Ky.; they were born Dec. 22, 1826, and July 22, 1832, respectively. They were born on the farm, and have always followed farming; they lived in Kentucky until the fall of 1854, when they came to Illinois, and settled about ten miles south of Charleston, where they lived about three months; they then moved on the Springfield road, in Douglas Co., where they lived one year, when, in 1856, they came to the present place, and have lived here since. With the exception of a term as Assessor by Richard, they have held no office, except connected with the school and road. Richard Brown married Miss Elizabeth Morrison, of Kentucky, Sept. 23, 1852; she died Nov. 7, 1860. They had five children, two living, viz., Sally Ann and Mary Jane. His present wife was Mrs. O’Bannon, formerly Miss Elizabeth Ann Bridwell; they were married Feb. 16, 1862; they have two children, viz., Ida B. and Richard Alonzo. He owns over 200 acres in this township, which he has earned by his own labor and management. Daniel Brown married Miss Mary Morrison, of Kentucky, Dec. 3, 1853. They had seven children, five living, viz., John P., William A., Susan T., James H. and Alburtis R. He owns over...

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Biographical Sketch of Joseph L. Gibbs

(See Conrad)-Joseph Lewis Gibbs born April 29, 1864 in Mattoon, Illinois. Married August 20, 1891 Eliza Gourd born December 28, 1873 near Claremore. They are the parents of: Charles A. born January 9, 1894 and Joseph Scott Gibbs born May 6, 1896. Joseph L. Gibbs is the proprietor of one of the best curio stores of the southwest, with his ability he specializes in American made articles, coins and Navajo blankets. Mrs. Joseph L. Gibbs is the daughter of John R. and Artemissa (Beavert) Gourd. The former now deceased was born August 5, 1850 married in 1872 Artemassa Beavert born January 4, 1357. John R. Gourd was elected August 5, 1895. Onai a full blood Cherokee of the Bird Clan married Hamilton Conrad whose father was a Hollander and his mother a Scotch woman. Their oldest son was Rattlinggourd Conrad, but all of his descent in the male line was always known as Rattlinggourd’s or Gourds, instead of Conrad. Rattlinggourd and Polly (Toney) Conrad were the parents of: Jackson and Daniel Rattlinggourd. The former was born in 1809, married Elsie Wilson, born in 1808. He died April 10, 1885 his wife had died on the fourth day of October of the previous year. He was elected judge of Tahlequah District August 5, 1867 and August 7, 1871. Their daughter Charlotte born July 3, 1829 married Larkin Beavertt and they...

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Biography of Edward Payson Allen

One of the most conspicuous figures in the financial and civic life of Southern Kansas was removed with the death of Edward Payson Allen at his home in Independence, November 27, 1915. He had already passed the age of three score and ten and with many ripe achievements to his credit and with the honorable associations of a long and useful life he went to his reward. He was a Civil war veteran, a pioneer in Montgomery County, Kansas, had filled public offices and had long borne the responsibilities of managing one of the largest banks in the state. His worthy ancestry no doubt was a contributing factor to his own life and character. His greatgrandfather and another member of the family had fought as Revolutionary soldiers, in the struggle for independence. After the close of the war this greatgrandfather and some of his brothers emigrated out of Virginia and established homes on the western frontier in Kentucky. The Allens were originally from the north of Ireland and had settled in Rockbridge County, Virginia, as early as 1630. David Allen, grandfather of the late Independence banker, was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, October 16, 1773, and went to Kentucky with his father about 1783. He served with the Kentucky troops in the War of 1812, and died in Green County, Kentucky, in 1816. Thus members of the Allen family...

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Biography of Jeremiah J. Wood

JEREMIAH J. WOOD. Our subject is an intelligent farmer and stockraiser who keeps abreast of the times in the improvements and progress made in his calling. He is a successful farmer, using the best methods of fertilizing the soil and improving the land, and his enterprise has made him a man of note in his section. He owes his nativity to the Hoosier State, born in Martin County in 1837, and is seventh in order of birth of nine children born to James and Sarah (Pifer) Wood. The father was born in Kentucky, but when a young man went to Martin County, Indiana, where he married Miss Pifer. There he died when our subject was but three years of age. He followed agricultural pursuits all his life. Mrs. Wood afterward removed to Coles County, Illinois, and married one Ransom Haddock, and there she died in 1867 or 1868. She was a Free-Will Baptist in religious belief. Her children were named as follows: Irene, deceased, was the wife of George Lytle; Cynthia, deceased, was the wife of Thomas Peak; Dorcas, deceased, was the wife of Randall Haddock; John, deceased, was a soldier in the One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois Infantry; Mary, who was the wife of Alex. Black, died in Illinois; Solomon, also a soldier in the One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois Infantry, died at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 1862; Jeremiah...

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Biography of Charles H. Watts

Charles H. Watts. Educational work is very exacting in the demands which it makes upon its devotees. Ostensibly the duty of the instructor is to instill in each of his pupils a proper and practical working knowledge; but equally important is his correlative, though less direct, function of instilling character and worthy precepts through his unavoidable personal influence. The first duty calls for an individual of knowledge and specialized training; the second for a capable and conscientious person whose manner of life and mode of living provide a fit criterion for the younger generation. When a man combines the possession of these attributes with the exclusion of strongly detrimental characteristics, the early years of future citizens may be safely entrusted to his care. Such a man is Charles H. Watts, county superintendent of schools of Champaign County and the incumbent of this office for fifteen years. His entire career has been devoted to the instruction of the young and he has gained a reputation as an educator which extends far beyond the limits of his immediate home community. Mr. Watts was born November 16, 1867, in Coles County, Illinois, and is a son of Sinclair and Martha (Holiday) Watts, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Indiana. The parents of Mr. Watts came to Illinois about the year 1860, and when the Civil War came on...

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Biography of Hon. Daniel A. McAlister

HON. DANIEL A. McALISTER. – Perhaps there is not another man living to-day in the Grande Ronde valley who is so popular with people and so great a favorite in Union and Wallowa counties as the subject of this sketch. And be it said to the credit of Mr. McAlister that in all his long public career he has nobly earned every encomium that has been given by an appreciative and discrimnating people. He is a man of large caliber, with vigor to sustain his untiring activity and integrity to maintain his position of uncompromising uprightness, while he is possessed of a practical judgment, keen foresight and executive ability that combined eminently fit him to fill the prominent place that he has enjoyed not only in the two counties mentioned, but in the estimation of the leading men throughout the state. Daniel A. was born in Coles county, Illinois, on February 6, 1842, and there received a good education from the common schools, attending the same in the winter and assisting on the farm in the summer. At the age of seventeen he spent his whole time on the farm and continued in the same until he was twenty, working with his stepfather. Then he went to Putnam county, Missouri, to visit an uncle and found him preparing to come to the Pacific coast. Our subject was enthused with...

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Biography of George B. Balch

George B. Balch, farmer, Postmaster and agent G. & M. R. R.., Larna; born in Bedford Co., Tenn., Nov. 1, 1828; his father, Alfred M. Balch, was born in Logan Co., Ky., Jan. 23, 1798. He was married to Elizabeth Gammil July 1, 1819; she was born Jan. 1, 1800; they left Tennessee late in October, 1830, and settled in Pleasant Grove Tp.; their journey and settlement are fully noted in the history of that township; they remained here during their lives; Mrs. Balch died Dec. 29, 1855; Mr. Balch Dec. 2, 1856; the subject of this sketch, Geo. B., grew to maturity here, receiving only a moderate education. He was married March 19, 1851, to Margaret S. Walker, who was born in Tennessee, Oct. 1, 1832; they became the parents of eleven children, all of whom’ are now living; Mrs. Balch died Nov. 4, 1875, leaving her daughters to fill her place; the names and births of the children are as follows: Samuel W. (born Jan. 28, 1852; married Nov. 25, 1875), Elizabeth J. (born Sept. 18, 1853; married April 21, 1875 ), Ann Minerva (born Aug. 10, 1855), Thomas W. and Nancy M. (born Oct. 8, 1858), Esther R. (born June 20, 1861), Ellen D. (born Jan. 31,1863), Minnie B. (born March 30, 1865), Eliza J. (born June 25, 1868), Robert E. (March 26, 1871), Margaret L....

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Biography of Lewis Corbin True, Col.

Col. Lewis C. True. Some interesting distinctions belong to this veteran soldier and lawyer who now lives retired at Kansas City, Kansas. He came to Kansas soon after leaving the army, and spent several years combating the hardships and plagues which afflicted the farmers in that period in Franklin County. Unable to make progress as a farmer, he took up the study of law, and in 1871 was admitted to practice in Cherokee County. He spent five years in general practice at Chetopa, and was then elected county attorney of Labette County. Kansas had just enacted its state wide prohibition law. Colonel True went into office committed to the duty of upholding the laws of the state and as a gallant soldier he could see no other course before him but to perform his duty. Personally he has always been a stanch advocate of prohibition, and he at once proceeded to employ the instrument of public office to carry out and enforce the state law. Though the law imposed equal obligations upon every county attorney in the state, Colonel True was the only incumbent of such an office during the first two years who rigidly applied the provisions of the new laws. It was a most ungrateful task, but he was not deterred by any of the difficulties or the dangers attending prohibition enforcement. His enemies burned his house...

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