Collection: A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois

Biography of John T. Riemke

John T. Riemke, one of the leading grain and elevator men of southwest Champaign County, began his career in humble circumstances, and has raised himself by sheer force of will and determination to a position of independence and influence. Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started. choose a state: Any AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY INTL Start Now Mr. Riemke was born in Pesotum Township of this county August 29, 1877. His parents were Henry and Anna (Richmond) Riemke, his father a native of Germany and his mother of England. Henry Riemke came to America fn 1854, spending two years in LaPorte, Indiana, before he joined the early settlers of Champaign County. He cleared up some of the land in this county and was successfully engaged in farming until his death in 1905. His wife passed away in 1904. They had nine children: Catherine, deceased; Henry of El Reno, Oklahoma; Mary, wife of Matthew, Miller, of Council Bluffs, Iowa; Jane, wife of Joseph E. Lustig, of Champaign County; Edward of Pesotum Township; Alice, wife of John Magsam, of Monroeville,...

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Biography of Henry Bernard Clark

Henry Bernard Clark. Life is a great drama, and many men play various roles and on many stages of activity. Such has been the experience of Henry Bernard Clark, a veteran jeweler, now living retired from a long business career at Rantoul. Mr. Clark is probably the only man in Champaign County and perhaps the only one in Illinois whose birthplace was the historic Isle of St. Helena, associated in the memories of men chiefly because it was the prison home of Napoleon Bonaparte and also the place where he died. He was born there, a son of Thomas and Louisa (Lowden) Clark. His father was a native of England and the mother was born at St. Helena of Scotch parents. When H. B. Clark was a few days old his father died, and when he was seven years of age his widowed mother came to America. His mother was a school teacher, and the English Government gave her the management of the fortified village of Longwood, where Napoleon had had his home. A strong guard of English troops had been kept at Longwood while Napoleon was there in order to prevent his escape and foil any attempts made by the French to spirit him away from the island. In such surroundings Mr. Clark spent the first seven years of his life. His brothers were James, Thomas, William and...

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Biography of Alonzo S. Brand

Alonzo S. Brand. The career of Alonzo S. Brand, whose home is in Sidney Township, on Eural Route No. 58, has been characterized by that vim and vigor of achievement which is the admiration of all purposeful men. To say that he is a self-made man is hardly doing credit to his ability at overcoming difficulties in his way to success. Mr. Brand was born in Noble County, Ohio, January 15, 1872, a son of Greenberry and Mary (Baker) Brand. His parents were also natives of the same county and his father a farmer. Alonzo was the oldest of their three children, the youngest, William, being deceased, and the only daughter, Olie, being the wife of J. H. McCoy, of Zanesville, Ohio. The father of the family died in 1876, when Alonzo was four years old, and the other children mere infants. It devolved upon Alonzo to contribute to the support of this household as soon as his tender years permitted. As a small child he frequently worked out on farms for ten cents a day until he was twelve years of age, after which he received $4 a month until he was sixteen and then for nine months worked in a general department store at $20 a month. Another nine months he spent at the hard labor of the coal mines. All his wages went to support his...

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Biography of William G. Fulton

William G. Fulton. The opinion has been expressed that opportunities today for the farmer are just as great as they were in pioneer times when land could be obtained for little or nothing. The career of William G. Fulton furnishes testimony in point. Mr. Fulton began his career in Champaign County with hardly enough capital to buy a single acre of the high priced land of this section of Illinois. He is now one of the wealthy and most prominent farmers in the southern part of the county and his accomplishments show what a man of determination and iron will may achieve. Mr. Fulton was born in Raymond Township, January 1, 1870, a son of Henry and Eliza (Fulton) Fulton. Both parents were born in Ireland but of Scotch ancestry. His father came to America in 1868, locating in Champaign County, and spent an active career as a farmer here. He died July 9, 1908, while the mother passed away August 9, 1905. They were laid to rest in the Woodlawn cemetery in Urbana. They were the parents of five children: George, who died in infancy; Mary, who died in 1909, married M. M. Want, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church; William G.; Jennie, widow of W. T. Gwinn, of Douglas County, Illinois; and Thomas, who died in childhood. Mrs. Mary Want was the mother of four children:...

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Biography of William A. Coolley

William A. Coolley. Of the financial institutions of the smaller communities of Champaign County, which, by reason of the character of their officials and the manner in which their business has been conducted, have acquired and held in greater or less degree the confidence of the public, one of the best and most favorably known is that operating as the Bank of Broadlands, a house which has been built upon an honorable policy and maintained along straight-forward lines. Much of the success that has attended this institution has been brought about through the splendid business and financial ability of William A. Coolley, one of its founders and now its president. Formerly an agriculturist, Mr. Coolley is familiar with this part of the country, where he has built up a reputation for sound integrity and practical ability. Mr. Coolley was born in Douglas County, Illinois, March 4, 1862, being a son of John A. and Harriet (Wyckoff) Coolley, the former a native of Indiana and the latter of Ohio. John A. Coolley was for many years engaged in farming in Douglas County, where he owned a large and valuable property, but after his retirement came to live at Broadlands, where he died June 8, 1915, Mrs. Coolley having passed away August 30, 1903. There were six children in the family, as follows: William A.; Nettie, who is the wife of...

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Biography of Alpheus C. Swearingen

Alpheus C. Swearingen. At a pleasant home on Sherman Street in the village of St. Joseph reside a couple who carry with them many memories of Champaign County both old and new and are enjoying the declining years of life with comforts and the riches of esteem befitting their worthy careers. Mr. and Mrs. Swearingen spent their active lives on a farm, garnered many harvests there from, reared their children to worthy and useful lives, and then gave up their home in the country for the one they now occupy at St. Joseph. Mr. Swearingen is a native of Champaign County, a son of Andrew and Rebecca (Hayden) Swearingen. His parents were among the pioneers of this section of Illinois, and around their log cabin home in the early days the Indians were frequent visitors. They helped convert the prairies and the swamps into arable farms, and had many hardships to contend with. Alpheus C. Swearingen grew up in a pioneer home and had his education in the public schools. He married Mary Strong, also a native of Champaign County, of St. Joseph Township. She is a daughter of John H. and Eliza Ann (Rice) Strong. The Strongs were likewise among the pioneers, and John H. Strong was a stock buyer for forty years. Mrs. Swearingen’s grandparents were John Orange and Nancy Strong, who came to Champaign County from...

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Biography of James P. Yeazel,

James P. Yeazel. In the fertile agricultural country of Champaign County there are found many men who have passed their entire lives within its borders and have won success and standing. In this class is undeniably James P. Yeazel, who is now carrying on agricultural operations in section 8, Homer Township, which has been his home for nearly thirty-one years. He was born in this township, here received his training, both educational and agricultural, and here has passed his entire career, winning straightforward success with honor, and a strong place in the confidence of his fellow citizens. Mr. Yeazel was born February 14, 1847, on the old Yeazel family homestead farm in Homer Township, a son of Adam and Maria (Crable) Yeazel, natives of Ohio. His father came to this community at a very early date in the history of the county, and, locating in Homer Township, took up land and applied himself to the cultivation of the soil. He continued to be engaged in farming during the remainder of his life, but did not live to enjoy the success which his industry and good management merited, as his death occurred in middle age, June 1, 1852. Mrs. Yeazel survived him for a long time and passed away in Homer township in 1886. There were ten children in the family, namely: Eliza Jane, Sarah, John and Mary, who are...

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Biography of Fred J. Holl

Fred J. Holl, who has lived in Champaign County for half a century, having grown to manhood here, has made his career chiefly that of merchant, and is proprietor of one of the oldest and most completely stocked mercantile establishments in the village of Sadorus. Mr. Holl in his career has exemplified the sturdy virtues of the German fatherland, where he was born December 16, 1861, a son of Fred and Christina (Kreager) Holl. His parents immigrated from the fatherland in the spring of 1867, bringing their little family to Champaign County and locating on a farm in Pesotum Township. Here the farmer industriously pursued his career as an agriculturist until his death in 1897, being survived by his widow until 1903. Fred Holl, ST., was honored with several minor township offices and was a splendid citizen. There were five children in the family: Fred J., William, of Pesotum; Augusta, wife of A. J. Nofftz of Champaign; Henry W., of Sadorus; and Benjamin C., of Pesotum Township. By a previous marriage the mother had a son Charles, now deceased. Fred Holl grew up on his father’s farm in this county and was twenty-eight years old when he started out to make his own way in the world as a farmer. He did farming two years and then engaged in the general mercantile business at Sadorus with George Luhrsen. They...

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Biography of James J. Freeman

James J. Freeman, of Homer, represents the second generation of a family that has played a worthy part in the affairs of Champaign County for over sixty years, and he is managing with thrift and a high degree of prosperity a fine farm in the locality where he was born. Mr. Freeman was born in Champaign County, May 27, 1858. His parents were Thomas and Nancy {Redman) Freeman, the father born in Ohio and the mother in Illinois. His father was one of the early agriculturists in this county and died in Champaign County in 1910, while the mother died here in 1902. Both of them died in the month of April and their birthdays were in the same month. There were six children: Mary M., deceased; Edmund E. of Ogden, Illinois; John T. of Homer; James J.; and William and Margaret, both of whom died in infancy. James J. Freeman lived with his father until he was twenty-five years of age, and in the meantime had the advantages of the local schools and also a training which well fitted him for the responsibilities he has later assumed. At the age of twenty-five he bought a farm, subsequently having a brief mercantile experience in Homer, then returned to the farm, and for another short period was engaged in the lumber business at Homer. Mr. Freeman owns 110 acres of...

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Biography of Howard Wrean

Howard Wrean. From the occupation of railroad engineer, which he followed for a number of years, Mr. Howard Wrean has turned to the quiet and productive resource of farming, with an excellent estate in section 6 of Harwood Township. Mr. Wrean is one of the competent agriculturists of Champaign County, and he and his family are people of many associations in this section. Mr. Wrean was born near Ludlow, a son of George and Amelia F. Wrean, his father a native of Nova Scotia and his mother of Denmark. They married in Pennsylvania and were the parents of seven children, all of whom grew up and received their education in the public schools at Ludlow. When George Wrean came to Champaign County he located on a farm west of Rantoul and later bought 170 acres a mile and a half northeast of that town. Here his promising career as a farmer was cut short after a residence of only four years. He died suddenly in 1886. His widow survived until February 28, 1917. Mr. Howard Wrean married Miss Frances C. Marquette. She was born at Philo, Illinois, a daughter of James and Cornelia (Ennis) Marquette, her father a native of Ohio and her mother of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They married at Philo, Illinois. The Marquettes are of French ancestry, but the family has been in this country for a number...

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Biography of Elna A. Robinson

Elna A. Robinson. During a long and active career Mr. Robinson has been prominently identified with Champaign County both in a professional and in a business way. His success in business has enabled him to retire and enjoy a financial competence and he is now a resident of the city of Champaign. Mr. Robinson was born in South Reading, Vermont, December 15, 1839, a son of Ebenezer, Jr., and Adeline (Williams) Robinson. His father was born at South Reading, Vermont, September 30, 1809, and died July 5, 1849. He was married January 4, 1837, to Miss Williams, who was born December 19, 1814, and died July 18, 1894. They had three sons, Elna A., Stillman and Albert A. Stillman Robinson is well remembered at Champaign and in University circles and was one of the leading engineers of the country. He was graduated as a civil engineer from the University of Michigan and from the age of twenty-five to twenty-eight was assistant on a United States lake survey and from twenty-eight to thirty-two years of age was assistant engineer with the faculty of the University of Michigan. From the age of thirty-two to forty he was professor of mechanical engineering and physics in the University of Illinois. He then accepted the chair of mechanical engineering with the Ohio State University, where he remained until he resigned in 1895. In 1896...

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Biography of Francis M. Avey

Francis M. Avey. Of the men whose ability, industry and forethought have added to the character, wealth and progress of Champaign County none stands higher than Francis M. Avey, now living retired at Rantoul, which has been his home for over forty-five years. Among other enviable distinctions Mr. Avey is one of the honored survivors of the great war of the rebellion, and he was a member of the first regiment that marched away from Illinois to fight in the South. His entire career has been in keeping with the high standards of patriotism which caused him to enter the army as a youth. He was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, January 24, 1835, and is now past four score. He is a son of Daniel and Hannah (Van Hise) Avey, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Maryland. Francis M. was the third of five children. His father was a farmer, and F. M. Avey grew up and obtained his early education in Butler County, Ohio. As a boy he heard much of the country of Illinois and Indiana, and at the age of sixteen his ambitions prompted him to go out to Fountain County, Indiana, where he had a brother. There he began an apprenticeship to the blacksmith’s trade. Having learned the trade, he took his accomplishments into western Missouri. At that time western Missouri...

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Biography of Howard Ross

Howard Ross, has built up a large business as a retail meat dealer in Champaign, learned his trade in that city, and by good management and by making it a point to offer the best of service and goods he is now one of the leaders in his line in the county. Mr. Ross was born near Savoy, Illinois, August 29, 1874, a son of David I. and Mary Elizabeth (Bowers) Ross. His father was born in Newburgh, New York, and his mother in Indiana. David Ross came to Champaign County about 1869. He was an active farmer here until 1882, when he moved west to Topeka, Kansas, and followed the drug business, in that city four years. After returning to Champaign County he lived retired until his death on January 21, 1890. His wife died in Topeka, Kansas, in 1888. There were five children: A son who died in infancy; Howard; Grace, wife of Bert Thrasher, of Berryton, Kansas; Ella, wife of Ralph Yingling, of Kansas; and the fifth, a son, died in infancy. Howard Ross spent part of his early boyhood in the State of Kansas. He was educated in local schools, and when fourteen years of age he got a job driving a grocery wagon at Champaign. A year later. he found work with a meat market driving a wagon, and after about two years he...

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Biography of Chester Garfield Reynolds

Chester Garfield Reynolds is one of the enterprising young farmers of Harwood Township, his well cultivated and managed farm being in section 11 of that township, not far from the Village of Gifford. Mr. Reynolds was born in that township in 1881, the next to the youngest of the fifteen children of Hanford and Antoinette (Roberts) Reynolds. Two of the children died in infancy. A conspicuous factor in the early days of Illinois was Father Hanford Reynolds, who was born in Westchester County, New York. He was a surveyor by profession and followed that calling in the early days, laying out the City of Geneseo, Illinois. Before the war he also sold fruit trees in Missouri. He had a varied and active experience throughout the Middle West and came to Champaign County about 1866. In his early travels in Missouri he would come upon what was called a grocery store at every cross roads. Whiskey was one of the chief commodities sold in such stores. When he came to Champaign County the nearest railroad to his home was Ludlow. The land was all prairie, and deer and wild game of all kinds abounded. He hauled lumber from Ludlow to build a small house and moved in before the roof was completed. There were so many ducks, geese and brant in the country that he had to hire men to...

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Biography of F. C. Amsbary

F. C. Amsbary, superintendent and manager of the Champaign Waterworks, has been superintending waterworks plants in different parts of the country for upwards of thirty years. It has in fact been his regular profession, though some of his younger years were devoted to railroading. Mr. Amsbary has numerous connections that identify him with the substantial interests of his home city. A native of Illinois, he was born at Pekin, January 24, 1863, a son of William Wallace and Harriet E. (Harlow) Amsbary, both of whom are natives of New York State. William W. Amsbary moved to Champaign in 1907, and for several years was connected with the waterworks here. He died in 1911, and his widow is still living at Champaign. Their five children are: George E., of Urbana; F. C.; Wallace Bruce, of Chicago; Don H., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Cordelia, still at home with her mother. When F. C. Amsbary was four years of age his parents removed to Delavan in Tazewell County, Illinois. He attended the local schools there, and at the age of fifteen he left home and worked as clerk in a store at Tremont in the same county for two years. He then went to Peoria and acquired his initial experience in railroad offices, where he remained about three years. He was next at Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the Chicago Northwestern Railway offices...

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