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Champaign County
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Genealogy and History


Biographies from
"Early History and Pioneers of Champaign County"
by Milton W. Mathews and Lewis A. McLean
Published by the Champaign County Herald, 1886



Biographies Transcribed by K. Torp



Richard Allen

Richard Allen.

Richard Allen was the son of Samuel and Phoebe Allen, natives of Dutchess county, N.Y. He was born in Poughkeepsie, same state. March 10, 1814. The family is of English origin and Quaker belief. In November 1834, Mr. Allen left New York on a sail-vessel for Savannah, Georgia, and from there, walked to Milledgeville, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles, and from the latter place on horseback to Columbus, one hundred and fifty more. He then took charge of twenty five slaves, and escorted them to Montgomery, Alabama.
The road passed through the Creek Indian reservation. At Montgomery, he engaged to drive stage from that city to Columbus. He soon after took a steamer down to Mobile, where he taught school three months. He returned to New York in June, 1835, and the same year went west to Gallia county, Ohio. He there purchased 380 acres of heavily timbered land. He cleared up one hundred acres and farmed it for twenty three years. The land being poor the profits arising therefrom were meagre. In 1858, he sold his farm and came to this county, and bought land in Somer township, where he still lives.

In 1838, he was united in marriage with Miss Mary E., daughter of Col. Nial Nye. The following are the names of their children: Lewis, who is a resident of Emporia, Kan.; Sarah, who lives at home; Samuel, a resident of Fairbury, Neb.; Ira H., of Urbana ; Joseph, who lives at Perry, Iowa. Part of the family worship in the Congregational church, and the others are Methodists. Politically Mr. Allen was a Whig until that organization was abandoned, and since then has acted with the Republican party. While Mr. Allen has not been an active politician, yet he is a man of strong and decided convictions. He believes firmly in high protection for American industries and the party espousing those principles, receives his warm endorsement and vote.

Mr. Allen has represented his township for four years on the board of supervisors. He has been Justice of the Peace for ten years and at present holds that office. He is modest and unassuming in manner, but has a will of his own and is not easily swerved from a position once taken. These characteristics are written plainly by our artist in the splendid portrait above given.
 


Simon Baltzell


Simon Baltzell

Was born October 28, 1833, in Ohio. His parents were George and Lydia (Layman) Baltzell, of Ohio. The great grandfather of Simon came from Germany and in the early days settled in Kentucky. They crossed the Ohio on a raft. It is claimed that the great grandfather was the first white man to set foot on Kentucky soil. On the site where Cincinnati now stands he built a cabin and there lived and died. The grandmother of the subject of this sketch was chased by the Indians so close that she jumped into the Ohio river and swam down some two miles to a settlement. General Jackson was then in command of some troops. He soon learned her story, after she had recovered sufficiently to tell it, and at once pursued the Indians.
The father and mother of the subject of this sketch were both born in Hamilton county, Ohio. The father died in Oglaze county, Ohio, in 1885. The mother remained a widow and raised the family of seven children. She sheared her sheep, carded and spun the wool, also raised flax and wove and made the clothing for the family. She also made all the shoes for the family and supported them until her boys grew large enough to help her. She removed with her family to Champaign county in the fall of 1856, and settled on a farm six miles south-east of Urbana, adjoining the farm of J. S. Powell, where she died in 1863, and her remains rest in Mt. Hope cemetery. Few women were more devoted or made more sacrifices for their children than she. The subject of this sketch enlisted in the late war September 28, 1861, in Company I, 10th Illinois Cavalry as a private. He went through the several lines of promotion and was first lieutenant when he was mustered out at Springfield, January 6, 1866. The old tenth cavalry took part in all the principal battles and skirmishes west of the Mississippi river. Mr. Baltzell was married January 1, 1868, to Viola M. Powell, oldest daughter of J. S. Powell. One child has been born to them, Estelle F., who is at home. Mr. Baltzell was a blacksmith in Urbana previous to the war and a member of the firm of Baltzell & Sperry. He has been a resident of this vicinity since 185G, with exception of the time he was in the army and in 1859 when he took the Pike's Peak fever. In 1868 he removed west of Champaign where he purchased a good farm, has the same well improved and enjoys life. He is a good citizen and is honored and respected in the entire community.
 


Andrew Barr

Andrew Barr

Among the excellent citizens of our county hailing from that land of stalwart men, Scotland, is Andrew Barr. He was born October 1st, 1835, at Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, of good Scotch parents, Andrew and Marian (Brownlee) Barr. Mr. Barr left his native land in 1858 and came to Iroquois county this state. He farmed there until November, 1861, when he came to Urbana, and has since made this his home. He was married March 29th, 1865, at Whitehead, Wisconsin, to Miss Elizabeth McBeath, a lady of line education and thorough culture. She was born in 1841, and is still living.
They have seven children, names James, Andrew, Mungo, Belle, Marian, John and Susan. James is assisting his father in the brick and tile business, and the other children are attending school. After he had been here some time he built a planing and saw mill, and continued in that business until in May l882, when, seeing the demand there was to be for brick, he opened an extensive brick yard, with a capacity of 15,000 per day and removed his saw mill to a large building in the yard. After getting the brick business well under way, he erected large tile works, with three kilns, one of them having a capacity of three of ordinary size. At these works he turns out about 25,000 tile per week and of the very best quality. He has a reputation for making the best tile that can be made and for using only the best material. Consequently he has a ready sale for all he can make, and ships largely in carload lots to different points over the state. He is prospering finely and has a pleasant residence in this city, and owns the twenty-four acres upon which his yards are situated. He went back to Scotland in 1885, to visit the scenes of his boyhood. While there he purchased five splendid Clydesdale horses, since which time he keeps one or two at his stables. Mr. Barr is a staunch republican. He is an enterprising, solid and thrifty business man and possesses all those manly qualities that are characteristic of the hardy race from which he springs.
 


Malinda Bartley

Malinda Bartley

Was the oldest daughter of Hiram and Jane (Swearingen) Rankin. They came to this county from near Maysville, Kentucky, about 1828 and settled east of the present town of St. Joseph and in a few years moved to what is known as the Rankin farm, on the old state road, east of old St. Joseph. Here they lived for many years and no one in all the county had a wider reputation for liberality in helping the poor and needy than Hiram Rankin.
Here the subject of our sketch, who was born in Kentucky, near Maysville, was raised. When about eighteen years of age she was united in marriage to Benjamin Bartley, whose parents came to this same part of the county about 1880. There were born to them four children, viz. Mary, Elizabeth Jane Catharine and Lydia. The youngest daughter, Lydia, was married to Van B. Swearingen, one of the leading men of this township. One child, Grant, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Swearingen, who is still living at St. Joseph, and is one of the prosperous business men of the county. Mr. Bartley died and Mrs. Bartley afterwards married Stephen Boyd, one of the old settlers of Urbana township. He died and several years afterwards Mrs. Boyd was again married to James Bartley a cousin of her first husband. They resided near St. Joseph. About twelve years ago Mrs. Bartley met with an accident which caused her to lose her life. A team ran away with her, throwing her and others from the buggy, so injuring her that she only lived three days. Mrs. Bartley was a thorough Christian woman in every respect, from early life taking an active interest in religious matters and was a member of the Christian church when she died. Mrs. Bartley inherited from her father a charitable disposition and no one ever went from her door in want. A person who knew her for many years said: "Mrs. Bartley did more for the poor than any person in St. Joseph township." She was of a hopeful, jovial disposition. and although she had her full share of sorrow she aimed to make the best of everything and made everyone feel better for having the pleasure of her acquaintance. She was known throughout the county and every man, woman and child respected and loved "Aunt Lin" as she was familiarly called. She was a neighbor in deed and the entire community mourned her death when, she was called to her home beyond.
 


John A. Benedict

John Ashmon Benedict

Among the hills of Delaware county, New York, John Ashmon Benedict was born, December 2, 1829. He was the son of Martin Green Benedict, whose father came from Connecticut into the then far west,and settled near Meredith, in that county. Many are the thrilling stories of hair breadth escapes from horrible massacre by Indians which are related of him. At one time the Indians raided the country. He pretended to be their friend and during their raids in the day time buried his valuables. Early one morning shortly after the departure of the Indians, upon their raid of daily massacre he too departed, and sought in safety his boyhood home in Connecticut. Returning he found his home burned to the ground.

Martin Green, born in 1800, was raised among these thrilling scenes, and took life in earnest. In early life he married Myra Ann Flint. He was a successful farmer and lived to see the woodland hills of Delaware county, made beautiful by the toil and labor of its early settlers. He died in December, 1876. John Ashmon was the eldest son by this union. He was educated in a district school near Meredith, and at the Delaware Academy. During the winter, when not needed for farm work, he taught school. In the Autumn of 1854, at an evening party he met the maiden of his choice, Olive Lee. June 5, 1856, they were married. She was the daughter of John and Mitty Lee, of Roxbury, New York. Soon after their marriage they too, determined to seek a home in the far west. Charles Fitch Post visited the father of John Ashmon, in the summer of 1856 and at this time the agreement was made to settle in the same locality. In October he started. He first went to Cambridge, Wis., the home of Mr. Post. From here he and Mr. Post started for Champaign, Ill., but meeting N. L. Seaver on the train they were advised to locate at Rantoul, which after visiting that place they concluded to do, and returned to Cambridge, for their families and goods. John Ashmon stopped in Chicago upon his return to his future home, and bought lumber for the first lumber yard in Rantoul. He arrived with his wife Nov. 1st, 1856. Under the firm name of Post & Benedict, they carried on a lumber business during 1857 and 1858, when John Ashmon bought out Post's interest, and carried it on until fall of 1851, when he sold out to Abram Cross. During the winter of 57-58, he taught the first public school in a frame building, corner of Girard and Grove avenues. This was district No. 1, which had just been organized. In the tall of '59, this district built a more commodious school house. John Ashmon was a member of the board of school directors, who were the first elected and held office at the time of its erection.

About January 1st, 1859, he formed a partnership with Henry Wright, in the general merchandise business firm name, Benedict Wright. Sold out his interest in spring of '60. Then went into the lumber and grain business with Peter Meyers. In the spring of '61, sold his interest to Meyers. Farmed during this and the coming year, and in May 1863, bought out M. Huffman, a general merchandise dealer of Ludlow. This business he carried on until the spring of '65. He sold out and in the fall of '65, bought out O. B. Dodge,a general merchandise dealer, of Rantoul. He continued in this business until his death, Oct. 12th, 1881. His family consists of a wife and two sons; John Lee, and Charles Post, who survive him, a little daughter, Ada Jane, having died Sept. 13th, 1863.

In his business transactions, he was successful. His estate including a fire proof business block, 50x80 feet, two stories high, a pleasant residence, corner of Sangamon avenue, and Girard street, town and farm property and such personal property as was necessary to run his extensive merchandising business. All his property was free from incumbrance. In politics he was a republican. He was a member of the town Board of Trustees for several years, once its president. For several years also he was a member of the county board of supervisors and during his last term was chairman of that body. Was a member of the congressional convention of 1880, which met at Mattoon, Ill. He was one of the original incorporators, and one of the first directors of the H. R. & E. R. R. Incorporated January 9th, 1878. Although not a member of any church, his wife being a Methodist, he took an active interest in the church of her choice.

Prominent among the many good traits of character of John A. Benedict, was his large hearted charity for the poor or unfortunate. He delighted to soften the couch of the afflicted and brighten the home of the sufferer, not by words of cheer and consolation alone, but by substantial help in the hour of need. Many are the individuals and families, that owe much of their prosperity to the helping hand of John A. Benedict, and cherish today, his memory with the sincerest gratitude and veneration.
 


Edward Blackshaw

Edward Blackshaw

Was born September 1st, 1831, at Bromley, near Dudley, Staffordshire, England, about one mile from the place where iron was first smelted by bituminous coal, by Dud Dudley, son of Lord Dudley, in 1865, at Dud Dudley's. His father was Joseph Blackshaw, his mother was Hannah Hill. He was married in Edgbaston England, April 3, 1853, to Miss Elizabeth Jones, since deceased. He was married a second time, August 17, 1882, to Mrs. J. Strachan, who is still living.
In 1858, on his arrival here, he established his dental office and has done an extensive business ever since. He has always been a thorough student and has introduced the various inventions in his profession as soon as his investigation convinced him of their merits. He was the first to introduce in this county, the following inventions, to-wit: Rubber as a base for artificial teeth, in 1861 or 2, Nitro Oxide or laughing gas, in 1864. Os-artificial as filling for teeth, in 1862, Cheo-plastic as a base for lower sets, in 1860, Weighted Rubber, as a base for lower sets, in 1879, Cavities in lower plate, in 1878, Bro. of Ethyl, in 1883, the local anesthetic for the gums, in 1860, the use of a base plate of metal and fasten the teeth on with rubber for lower sets, in 1884, Tifline, for extracting, June 1885, Robbins Remedy, in August 1885, Yinglings Chlorodont, in December 1885, Emery Burrs and wheels for lathes, in August, 1885. In 1886, the Doctor introduced Moseley's Soporative, which produces natural sleep, which he is using very successfully in his dental business. Dr. Blackshaw is well known throughout the state as a zealous Free Mason. He was made a Mason in 1857, in Fountain Lodge, No. 29, Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin. He has held the office of Master of Urbana Lodge, 157, been High Priest of Urbana Chapter, No. 80, for eleven years, T.I.G.M. of Urbana Council, No. 19, for twenty-one years, served as Captain General of Urbana Commandery. No. 16, and now occupies the position of Generalissimo in same Commandery. He also filled the honorable position of Puissant Grand Master of the Grand Council of the state of Illinois, for one year. The Doctor is known far and wide as a skilled dentist and in every town in Central Illinois has warm friends who always give him a hearty greeting.
 


Rezin Boltin


Rezin Boltin

Was born in Dark county, Ohio, February 26th, 1826. He is the son of William and Dorcas (Johnson) Boltin, also natives of Ohio. In early life, while yet a resident of Ohio, Mr. Boltin learned the carpenter's trade, and later the photographic art. As a carpenter he assisted in building a large number of the buildings in the village of Mahomet. He came west in September, 1854, and settled at Middletown, now Mahomet, and there he has made his home to the present.
When Mr. Boltin first went to that town there were but two stores. One was kept by a man by the name of Hill and the other by a man by the name of Owens. He has lived there long enough to see the town grow up from a small, insignificant village to one of nearly 1,000 population.
Mr. Boltin was first married to Polly Ann Brown, in Dark county, Ohio, October 27th, 1847. She died in Greenville, Ohio, in June 1853. While a resident of Greenville, he married Mary Smith. The date of the marriage was October 5th, 18.54. She died in Mahomet in the fall of 1881. He married his present wife, Rebecca Sicklider, in Dark county, Ohio, February 21st, 1882. She is still living. He is the father of the following children: William Henry, married Mary Woodrow, and is a resident of Mahomet; James, married Hannah Swanson, also of Mahomet; Alice is the wife of William Tanner, of Mahomet; Elwain is single, Warren also; Mary married Gehart B. Tanner, and resides in Mahomet, as does also Rezin, the youngest of the family. Mr. Boltin united with the Christian church about thirty-eight years ago and has always been an exemplary member. His political affiliations have always been with the republican party. He is now a justice of the peace. Mr. Boltin is numbered among the good moral citizens of Mahomet, and stands high in the estimation of the citizens of his community.
 


James Boyd


James Boyd

Was born September, 10th, 1825, in Shelby county, Kentucky. His father, Stephen Boyd, was born in same county. (See portrait and sketch of father elsewhere in this issue.) His mother was Jemima Kitson, also a native of Kentucky. James, subject of this sketch, was only six years old when he came to this county in November, 1831, with his father. He was subjected to the hardships of pioneer life thus early in his career, and made of him that hardy and substantial man the portrait above indicates.
At the age of 22, to-wit, August 19, 1847, young James married Miss Frances Rhodes, who shared his burdens and partook of his joys until March 22, 1864, when she died. August 17, 1864, he married Mary Ann Collins; who died the following winter. August 5, 1866, he married Caroline Turnipseed, who is his present wife. Thus he was married three times in August. His children are John W., William M., Jemima, who married M.M. Harry, of this city; Sarah, who married H. Strover, now of Bloomington, Ill; Anna, Frank and Florence, are living at home, the eldest being 17 the youngest 13 years old. Alfred, Stephen and George are dead. James received early impressions and education which made him a democrat until 1856. He says he voted for James Buchanan in 1856 and shortly afterward solemnly declared he would never vote a democratic ticket again. He kept his word, voting for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and in 1864, and for the republican candidates ever since. He owns a well improved farm three miles east of Urbana, and has followed all his life his present occupation, that of a farmer. His farm is clear of encumbrances and he owes no man anything. Like his father before him, he prides himself in keeping his contracts to the letter, thus building up the reputation he has among those who know him of a square business man and good citizen.
 


Samuel Boyd


Samuel Boyd

Was born in Ireland, county Antrim, August 26th, 1802. His parents were John Boyd and Agnes (Miller) Boyd. They were both Scotch and descended from a long line of Scotch people. Mr. Boyd was married in a Presbyterian church, six miles from Belfast, Ireland, to Sarah Miller, in October, 1833. She died in 1848, at Lawrenceburg, Indiana. In 1843, he, with his family, consisting of wife and his three eldest children, crossed the Atlantic and came to Lawrenceburg, Indiana; there he worked in a flour mill and distillery until 1851.
He spent a short time at Rising Sun, Ind., and in 1851 crossed the plains with a six mule team to California; there he hunted for the golden nuggets with some success, although subjected to the hardships and privations of mining life, until 1856, when he returned and married his second wife, Miss Elizabeth Stafford, of Aurora, Indiana, in 1857. In same year he came to Champaign county, Illinois, and settled near St. Joseph. He had brought with him, from California, about $2,000 as the result of his California mining operations. This he invested in land, and for twelve years successfully followed farming. His children by his first wife are John F., now in Missouri ; William, now in Nebraska; James M., who resides in Indianapolis and is a locomotive engineer; Mary Johnson, who resides south of Urbana, and Hugh, who resides near Lost Grove. James M. entered the army and served gallantly throughout the war for the Union, and stands high among the men of his calling as well as among his acquaintances everywhere. John F., Hugh and William, also served through the war in the Union army. By his second wife he had five children, two of whom are now living, viz: Jennie, who is living at home, and Rosa, who married Peter Good, and resides north of Urbana. Mr. Boyd was raised a Presbyterian and through the greater part of his life was identified with that stalwart branch of the christian church. He and his present wife, however, are members of the Baptist church. He was forty-six years old before he was entitled to vote, but he allied himself with the whig party upon his arrival in America, and voted for Zachary Taylor for president, in 1848, for Gen. Scott in 1852, and for Fremont and the succeeding republican candidates including James G. Blaine, in 1884. He is a hardy Scotchman of 84 years, and is as active and industrious as he has always been. He resides now about two miles northeast of this city, where, doubtless, his remaining years will be spent. He has lived to see his family grow up and engage in active business, and he calmly and confidently awaits the summons which shall call him to a better world. Meantime he will perform the duties of a good citizen, as he has always done during a long and active life.
 




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