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.
JOHN S. BILYEU is one of the extensive land-owners of Prairieton Township, his pleasant residence being situated on section 4. He has long been a resident of this community, having arrived here in 1841.

The birth of our subject occurred in Miller County, Mo., the date of the event being January 1, 1834. His father, John H. Bilyeu, was a native of Kentucky, and went to Tennessee with his father, Peter Bilyeu, who was of French descent.

His youth was passed in Tennessee, and on arriving at a suitable age, he chose for his wife Elizabeth Workman, also a native of Kentucky. The young couple removed to Illinois, and, settling in Sangamon County, located on a farm, which Mr. Bilyeu carried on for several years. He then removed to Miller County, Mo., where he staid for only four years, returning in 1837 to Sangamon County. A few years later he entered and bought land on Flat Branch, now comprised within the limits of Prairieton Township.

He opened up a large farm of over twelve hundred acres, and to its cultivation devoted the remainder of his life. He was called from the shores of time May 15, 1867, at the age of sixty-three years. His wife is still living, at the age of seventy-nine years. Mr. Bilyeu was quite active in local politics, and many times held offices of trust and honor.

The subject of this sketch is one of a family of nine sons and three daughters, who all lived to mature years. Two brothers and two of the sisters are now deceased. John S. remained under the parental roof until he had reached his majority, after which he settled on a part of the old homestead, the place where he still resides.

This property was then raw prairie land, and the young man with industry and diligence proceeded to develop a farm, fencing and making many improvements upon the place. He started with about one hundred acres, but in a few years was enabled to purchase more land. As the years passed, the boundaries of his farm were extended until his homestead farm comprises three hundred acres, in addition to which he owns four hundred acres. A part of this land is timber, and the rest is rich bottomland. Large barns and convenient outbuildings have been erected on his farm, and his commodious home completes the pleasant picture.

When Mr. Bilyeu had just completed his twentieth year he was united in marriage with Miss Melinda Workman, their marriage being celebrated January 22, 1854. The lady is a native of Illinois, and is a daughter of Stephen Workman, one of the early pioneer of Christian County.

Mr. and Mrs. Bilyeu have had nine children. J. H. J. is married and is carrying on one of his father's farms; Mary Ann is the wife of David Workman, of this county; Josiah assists in carrying on the home farm; Elizabeth is deceased; Peter also lives at home; Lydia, Edmund, Hiram and Isaac complete the family.

The parents are members of the Christian Church and are valued workers. The first vote of Mr. Bilyeu was deposited for the Hon. James Buchanan in 1856. since which time he has ever supported the Democratic party. He has never been an aspirant for official honors, but has found his time fully taken up in overseeing his farms and business projects. In the several walks of life he bears a reputation for unblemished honor, and his example as a business man is worthy the emulation of the coming generation.



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