Collection: A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois

Biography of William Keusink

William Keusink was for many years actively engaged in business in Champaign, but is now living retired in that city. His family came to Champaign County before the Civil War. 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. Keusink was born in Schenectady, New York, August 19, 1856, a son of Benardus and Wilhelmina (Hall) Keusink. His parents were both natives of Holland, where they were married, and soon after their marriage they immigrated to America. About 1860 they came’ to Champaign, where the senior Keusink followed his trade as a machinist in the employ of the Illinois Central Railway Company. His death occurred in April, 1869. His widow survived him until July, 1913. Of their twelve children, six survived the father, and William Keusink was the third in age. William Keusink grew up in Champaign, attended the local schools, and in 1872, at the age of sixteen, began to learn the cabinet maker’s trade. He followed that as an occupation until 1884, and then entered the...

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Biography of Leland S. Fowler

Leland S. Fowler, of the Penfield community of Champaign County, is one of the young and progressive agriculturists of this section. He has the management of his father’s fine farm and he took hold of the business with such vigor as to bring results that are surprising even to himself. Mr. Fowler was born in Vermilion County, Illinois, and is a son of U. G. and Etta (Wolf) Fowler. His parents were also born in Illinois. There were two sons of the parents, Wylie M. and Leland S. Both of them were educated in the high school at Urbana and the state university. On October 22, 1914, Leland S. Fowler married Miss Atha Wood. She was born at Gifford in Champaign County, daughter of E. A. and Laura (Rowland) Wood. While the Fowler family had two sons there were two daughters in the Wood family, Edythe and Atha. Miss Atha graduated from the Gifford High School, from the Champaign High School, took up the study of domestic science in the University of Illinois, and also received much musical instruction. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Fowler started life on his father’s farm and he now has under his direct management 740 acres. The Fowler residence is one of the finest in the country district of Champaign County, a country home that does credit and is a monument to the...

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Biography of Thomas A. Little

Thomas A. Little. One of the most interesting homes of Rantoul is that of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Little in the extreme northeast quarter of the town. They live there enjoying a happy combination of both the rural and the urban facilities. They have sufficient ground to afford Mr. Little an opportunity to indulge his favorite pastimes of agriculture, not without considerable profit, and they also have sufficient means to live comfortably without fear of the future and enjoy their many friends. Mr. Little was born in Licking County, Ohio, in 1851, a son of John and Charlotte (Coon) Little. His parents were natives of Ohio, and his mother was of an old and prominent family of that state. In 1916 Mr. and Mrs. Little attended the annual reunion in Ohio of the Coon family and spent two weeks in and around Newark renewing old acquaintances. Thomas A. Little was educated in the district schools of Vermilion and Champaign counties, Illinois, and became a practical farmer. He was also engaged in a mercantile business in Rantoul, from the spring of 1872 to 1905. At the age of thirty-five he married Lizzie Cole. Three children were born to their union, two of whom died in infancy. Lewis C., the only one to grow up, proved a boy of fine capacity and of studious ability. He was graduated with honors...

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Biography of John J. Rea

John J. Rea. A member of the Champaign County bar for thirty-seven years, John J. Rea has during this period risen to be one of the most forceful attorneys of his native community, and at this time occupies a recognized position of eminence among the legists of Urbana, where his entire professional career has been passed. While his later years have been crowned with success, Mr. Rea is fully acquainted with the rough and stony paths which the young aspirant so often finds it necessary to trod, for in his own youth he found no royal road to success, but forced to carve out his own destiny and to make his own opportunities. Determination and persistency triumphed in the end, and the reward has been commensurate with the labor. John J. Rea is a product of the farming district of Mahomet Township, Champaign County, where he was born on his father’s farm October 11, 1852. His father, John J. Rea, was born in Lewis County, Kentucky, and first came to Champaign County as early as 1836, in which year he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of government land in what later became Mahomet Township. He did not remain here at that time, but returned to his Kentucky home, where he lived during the next thirteen years, and while there was united in marriage with Miss Sarah P. Henderson,...

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Biography of John I. Groves, M. D.

John I. Groves, M. D., was born in Cass County, Illinois, May 2, 1854, a son of Isaac and Mary E. (Coal) Groves. His father was born in England and his mother in the State of Maryland. Isaac Groves was for many years an active minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1878 he removed to Champaign, and died there December 12, 1906. By his first marriage he had two children, Elizabeth J., wife of Hugh Mitchell, of Fisher, Illinois; and Harriet A., wife of Thomas M. Foster, of Dickens, Iowa. Rev. Mr. Groves’ second wife died March 22, 1905. She was the mother of two sons: Dr. John Groves; and Charles W. Doctor Groves remained at home with his father until he was twenty years of age. In the meantime he had acquired a substantial education, and he then took up teaching and followed that profession for four years in country districts. For three years he was a teacher in Vermilion County, Illinois. He then entered the Hahnemann Medical College in Chicago, from which he was graduated M. D. in 1880, and spent seven years. in the practice of medicine in Indiana and Illinois. His first practice was done in Indiana, and after two years he removed to Gibson City, where he practiced for four years before coming to Champaign, and since locating here he has devoted his...

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Biography of Fred Hess

Fred Hess. On the roster of the energetic men who are discharging the duties connected with public positions in Champaign County is found the name of Fred Hess, whose incumbency of the office of county clerk goes back over a period of more than six and one-half years. The county clerkship is an office which carries with it some of the heaviest responsibilities and most onerous duties, the important character of which demand the presence and labor of a man of strong intellect, who can combine accuracy with industry and fidelity. The fact that Mr. Hess has retained the office during the long period that he has should be sufficient proof that he is possessed of the qualities mentioned, or at least that he has satisfied the people in this respect. He is one of the native sons of the county who have made excellent records in public life. Fred Hess was born in the city of Champaign, Illinois, May 19, 1871, and is a son of Isaiah H. and Sarah A. (Hardin) Hess, the former a native of New Jersey and the latter of Pennsylvania. His father was still a young man when, in 1857, he left his native state and came to Illinois. As a youth he had learned the trade of plasterer, and after following this occupation as a journeyman for a number of years developed...

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Biography of William L. Sturdyvin

William L. Sturdyvin. A resident for more than forty-five years in Champaign County has made William L. Sturdyvin one of his community’s best known citizens, and the honorable and industrious life he has led has given him a substantial place among his people. The years have dealt kindly with him and with his efforts, and he and his good wife now reside in a comfortable and hospitable home in Rantoul. Theirs is one of the fine residences facing the park in Rantoul, and stands on a street corner about two blocks from the interurban station. Mr. Sturdyvin is a native of Illinois and was born in Tazewell County, twenty-two miles south of Peoria. He is a son of Obadiah and Cynthia (Musick) Sturdyvin. His parents were born in Ohio and in pioneer times migrated to Illinois, locating south of what was then an Indian trading post consisting of a single log cabin on the site of the present vigorous City of Peoria. In the Sturdyvin family there were the following children besides William L.: Grant, Abraham and James, deceased; Steven, Allen and Robert; and two deceased daughters. The children were able to attend school in their pioneer district of Illinois only about three months a year. The Sturdyvins lived forty-five miles from Springfield, and in the early days there were only two houses on the entire road. Besides farming...

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Biography of Theodore L. Block

Theodore L. Block. To accomplish as much as Theodore L. Block accomplished in Champaign County demands not only phenomenal energy but a ruggedness and integrity of character that in no small degree accounts for the esteem in which he is held as a citizen as well as a business man. Mr. Block was born in Poland, October 3, 1850. He is a son of William and Minnie (Cornelius) Block. Several generations before he was born the ancestor of the family moved from the district bordering on the Baltic Sea into Poland, and thereafter the family was identified with the agricultural interests of that unhappy country until William Block sold his possessions there and immigrated with his family to America in 1857. On the 18th of May in that year they landed in New York City and proceeded directly West until they arrived in Champaign County. Here William Block bought a farm three miles south of Sidney, and though a stranger in a strange land he was successfully identified with farm management and local affairs. He spent the last fifteen years of his life retired at Champaign, where both he and his wife died. Theodore L. Block was the only child of his mother, and his father by a previous marriage had a son August, who is still living at Sidney in Champaign County. Theodore L. Block was six years...

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Biography of J. H. Blue

J. H. Blue. Many years have passed since Mr. and Mrs. Blue took up their residence in Champaign County and began their careers as progressive farmers, and at the present time they live in the comforts of a good town home at Rantoul. In the meantime their children have grown up, most of them have married and have homes of their own, and Mr. and Mrs. Blue are able to take the greatest satisfaction out of the large family circle that surround them. Both of them are natives of Germany. J. H. Blue was born in the little Town of Leer on the River Ems near Hanover, Germany, one of the seven children of Henry A. and Alma J. (Buscher) Blue. His father was a sailor and lost his life at sea. At the age of thirteen J. H. Blue asked permission of his school teacher to leave school and begin an apprenticeship as a sailor. The family lived on the sea coast and the activities of the sea naturally appealed to all the boys of that district. Some time later he and a young Scotchman came to America for the purpose of entering the United States Navy. The North was then engaged in the struggle with the South over slavery. They landed at Boston from the sailing vessel Kensington, and the first news they heard was that peace...

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Biography of Joseph E. McGurty

Joseph E. McGurty is one of the successful business men of Champaign, where in the past seventeen years he has built up a large livery enterprise and also a well conducted automobile business. He comes from the country district and was a farmer prior to his business career. Mr. McGurty was born at Colfax, Illinois, December 11, 1869, a son of Hugh and Sarah (Reagan) McGurty. Both parents were natives of Ireland. His father when six years of age went with his parents to Canada, locating near Montreal, where he grew up, and about 1859 he came to Illinois and soon afterward located on a farm in Champaign County. In 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army, in Company E, Ninety-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served three years and six months. He lived a long, useful and honorable life and died at Champaign, June 2, 1897. The widowed mother is still living in Champaign. There were six children: Anna, of Champaign; Catherine, at home; John, deceased; Joseph E.; Agnes, at home; and James, deceased. Joseph E. McGurty grew up on the farm, was educated in the local schools, and was a practical farmer on the old homestead until he was twenty-five years of age. For three years he had some mercantile experience in the department store of F. K. Robeson, and then engaged in the livery business at Champaign....

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Biography of Thomas Gordon

Thomas Gordon. As a farmer and farm manager Thomas Gordon is easily one of the ‘leading figures in Champaign County. He has acquired and developed and superintends through his tenants and managers an estate of 975 acres in Compromise Township. For a number o”f years Mr. Gordon has lived in the Town of Penfield, and goes out from there almost daily to look after his business affairs. Mr. Gordon is a native of Aurora, Illinois, a son of John and Mary (Whalen) Gordon. Both of them were natives of Ireland and came to America in early life. When Thomas was about ten years of age they settled in Champaign County, where their family of five sons and three daughters were educated in the local schools. In 1906 Thomas Gordon gained a capable companion and helpmate for himself in the person of Miss Blanche Hobbins. She was born at London, Canada, daughter of Daniel and Julia (Farmer) Hobbins. Her father was a Canadian farmer and there were just two daughters in the family, namely, Mary and Blanche. Mary is the wife of Mr. Crunican of London, Ontario. Mrs. Gordon has a cousin, Sergeant R. J. Farmer, who is a graduate of the London Medical College, and is now in the English Navy on the Salmon. Mrs. Gordon was eleven months old when her father died and her mother, desiring to...

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Biography of Archie Ernest Strode

Archie Ernest Strode. One of the important industries of Champaign is the tent and awning business which for a number of years has been carried on by the Strode family. The owner and proprietor of the business at present is Archie Ernest Strode, who gave up his active trade as a boiler maker to take charge of this business at the time of his fathers death. Mr. Strode was born in Bristol, England, May 11, 1879, but was brought to this country when a child of about four years. His parents, George and Elizabeth (Frank) Strode, were both natives of England. His father died March 4, 1915, and his mother in 1901. The family came to Champaign in 1883, and George Strode established the present tent and awning business in 1905. There were five children in the family: Frank, of Champaign; Celia, widow of Thomas Dodsworth of Champaign; William, who died in 1892; Bessie, wife of W. E. Lott, of Flint, Michigan; and A. E. Strode. In 1895, at the age of sixteen, and after completing his education in the local schools, Archie E. Strode began learning the boilermaker’s trade. He still has his card of active membership in the Boilermaker’s Union. He spent about four and a half years in the shops of the Illinois Central, one year with the Santa Fe, and two years with the Big...

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Biography of Abraham Graham

Abraham Graham. The quiet life and substantial accomplishments of the farmer have been the lot of Abraham Graham, who is now living in the town of Penfield, retired from the strenuous labors which marked his early youth. Mr. Graham has been identified with Champaign County almost half a century, and his life record is one that will be read with pleasure by his many friends and acquaintances as well as by his family. He long ago accumulated sufficient to protect him against the days that are to come, and the respect in which he is held is no less than his material accomplishment. Mr. Graham is a native of the Emerald Isle, born in County Monaghan, December 27, 1838, a son of Hugh and Sarah (McMahon) Graham. He was the third of nine children, six sons and three daughters. He acquired an education in his native country and at the age of nineteen determined to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities of America. Accompanied by a cousin, Miss Rosa Martin, he sailed on the ship Aurora and five weeks and three days later arrived at Castle Garden, New York. From there he went to Providence, Rhode Island, and for nine months during the panic of 1857 worked in lumber yards. He then became a farmer at Glencove in Queen’s County on Long Island, but three years later came west...

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Biography of J. S. Mason, M. D.

J. S. Mason, M. D., who was graduated in medicine over twenty years ago, has found his time and abilities more and more taxed as a. competent physician and surgeon, and in that field he ranks among the foremost in his section of the state. Doctor Mason is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, an honor conferred only upon surgeons of distinctive rank and attainment. He was born at Newark, Ohio, May 22, 1868, a son of Jacob W. and Elizabeth (Smith) Mason, both natives of Ohio. His father came to Vermilion County, Illinois, in 1881 and followed farming his entire active career. There were six children: J. Smith, a lumber dealer and hardware merchant at Oakwood, Illinois; Frank M., a physician practicing at Rossville, Illinois; Dr. J. S. Mason; Leora, living at home and a school teacher; Archie R.; and Etta Florence, at home with her parents. Doctor Mason grew up on a farm, attended country schools, and when about eighteen years of age began teaching in the country. This vocation he followed five years and in the meantime took special courses in a Normal school and acquired a first grade teacher’s certificate. It was through his individual earnings that he paid his way until graduation from medical school. He took up the study of medicine privately, and afterwards entered the Northwestern University School of Medicine...

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Biography of Samuel Henson Little

Samuel Henson Little. Among those substantial people of Champaign County with whom industry has been the keynote of their lives and successes a family of special interest is that of Samuel H. Little. Mr. and Mrs. Little are now retired from the active responsibilities of farming and reside in a comfortable brown cement block home on Sangamon Avenue in Rantoul. Mr. Little was born in Vermilion County, Illinois, a son of John and Charlotte (Coon) Little. His parents were natives of Ohio, and after coming to Illinois they spent their lives as farmers. Samuel H. Little was educated in the district schools of Champaign County. At the age of twenty-six he married Miss Jessie Babb. Mrs. Little was born in Staffordshire, England, a daughter of Charles and Eleanor Babb, of a well known family represented in Champaign County. Mrs. Little was educated in the district schools of this county and attended high school at Rantoul. After their marriage they moved to Vermilion County and for three years were farmers on rented land. They then returned to Champaign County and continued renting for five years, and by the exercise of their native thrift and good judgment had by the end of that time sufficient capital to buy a farm of 120 acres. For this land they paid $71 an acre. Then followed other years of industry and with increasing prosperity...

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