genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
EDMUND B. BILYEU, a farmer residing on section 21, Prairieton Township, is one of the well-to-do and enterprising agriculturists of the community, and one of the early settlers, his residence dating from 1841.

Numbered among Illinois native sons, he was born in Sangamon County, February 15, 1839. His father, John H. Bilyeu. was born and reared in Kentucky.

He was twice married, his second union being with Elizabeth Workime, a native of Kentucky. Removing to Illinois, he located in Sangamon County, becoming one of its first settlers. Subsequently he went to Miller County, Mo., but after four years spent in that place he came to Sangamon County, Ill., once more, and made it his home until March, 1841, when he removed to Christian County.

Here he opened up a large farm and spent his remaining days, his death occurring in May, 1867. His wife still survives him, and has now reached the age of eighty years. Mr. Bilyeu had a family of twelve children, eight of whom are yet living: Peter, a farmer of this county; John S., whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work; Sampson B., deceased; Lydia, wife of Isom Adams, whose sketch is also given elsewhere; Edmund, of this sketch; Josiah, deceased; George and Isaac, who are living on the old homestead; Hiram C., who is now in the West; Sarah Ann, who died in Lockwood, Mo., leaving four children; and David Bilyeu, of Blue Mound

The subject of this sketch spent his youth in this county, being reared amid the wild scenes of the frontier. He remained with his father until after he had attained his majority, and then settled upon an eighty-acre farm, where he resided until February, 1864. It was a tract of raw prairie, but the first season he broke forty acres and planted it in corn. He built a little house, fenced the entire farm, and in course of time placed it all under cultivation.

He has since purchased two hundred and eighty acres, and now has about three hundred and sixty acres, of which two hundred and forty are in the home farm. This is a fine body of land, under a high state of cultivation, and improved with all the accessories of a model farm. The owner has erected a commodious and substantial residence, good barns and outbuildings, and may well feel a just pride in this valuable homestead.

On Christmas Day of 1861, Mr. Bilyeu married Miss Percy Reed, a native of Christian County, who died July 5, 1889. There were nine children born of that union: John H., who is married and follows farming in this county; Lydia Ann, wife of Thomas Barnett; Edmund, who is married, and follows farming; Elizabeth; Sarah; Linda, wife of George Jacobs; Peter C., Isom and Wilbur P. Mr. Bilyeu was again married, September 29, 1891, his second union being with Mrs. Nancy Easley, daughter of John Finn. She is a native of this State, and by her former marriage has three children. The second union has been blessed with one son, Earl, who is the joy and light of the household.

Mr. Bilyeu is a member of the Christian Church and his wife belongs to the Baptist Church. Since casting his first vote for Stephen A. Douglas in 1860, he has supported each Presidential nominee of the Democratic party, but has never sought or desired public office, preferring to give his entire time and attention to his business interests. He has met with excellent success in his undertakings and by his own enterprise and industry has accumulated a handsome competency, which numbers him among the well-to-do farmers of Christian County. For the period of fifty-two years, he has made his home in this county, and has witnessed almost its entire growth and development. He has seen its wild land transformed into beautiful homes and farms, and hamlets have become thriving towns during his residence here. In the work of public improvement he has ever borne his part, and in the history of his adopted county he well deserves mention.


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