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, p257.  Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.

WILLIAM D. COFFMAN, who owns and operates a good farm on section 20, May Township, is one of the early settlers of Christian County, to which he came when only five years of age, in 1850. He has the esteem and respect of all who know him, and his word is considered as good as his bond.

The birth of our subject occurred on the 9th of July, 1845, in Ohio County, Va., and he is a son of James D. and Margaret (Settle) Coffman. The former was born in Virginia, and in his youth learned the blacksmith's trade. This avocation he pursued until 1850, when he emigrated to the West and made a settlement in this county.

He became the owner of land on the same section where our subject now resides, and devoted himself to its improvement and cultivation until his death, which occurred November 1, 1885. He was of German descent, and was much respected by the early settlers as well as by the later arrivals in this region.

His wife was also a native of the Old Dominion, born in Lancaster County. She came from one of the old families of Virginia, her ancestors having settled there in Colonial days on coming from their native land, England. A number of the family participated in the War of the Revolution. Mrs. Coffman was called from this life in Christian County, July 9, 1872.

In the family of five children our subject is the eldest. Two of the number are deceased. Josephine became the wife of Leonard F. Peak, a well-known agriculturist of this county; and Sarah married Isaac Corzine, who also owns a farm in this county. The parents removed here in 1850, and reared their children to lives of usefulness.

Until his twentieth year our subject remained on the home farm, attending the common schools of the neighborhood. In 1865, he went to Peoria, and there pursued his studies for about one year. Returning, he worked for his father on the farm for the two succeeding years, after which he rented land, which he engaged in cultivating for himself.

His father then gave him the use of forty acres of land, which had been little improved and only had a small log house upon it. With undaunted energy he began to clear the place, which was covered with brush and stumps. For nine years he kept house for himself, most of the time in his little cabin, and brought the land into good shape.

The marriage of Mr. Coffman was celebrated January 19, 1881, with Miss Lillian H. Fraley, who was born December 17, 1857, in Christian County. She is a daughter of John S. and Sarah J. (Wiley) Fraley. The father was a native of Ohio, and became a resident of this county in 1847, being one of the honored pioneers. He was prominent in those early days and was widely known, as he lived on the old Terra Haute and Springfield stage road, and a great many travelers were hospitably entertained at his home in those days. He was of German descent, and died on the 1st of March, 1888.

His wife, who was also born in Ohio, died in April, 1869. Five children blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Coffman, namely: Mabel E., Minnie, Roy, Mary, and one who died in infancy.

In regard to the question of politics, Mr. Coffman is a Prohibitionist and is a strong temperance man. He holds membership with the United Brethren Church, while Mrs. Coffman is a member of the Methodist denomination.

Our subject has been at various times called upon to fill township offices, which he has filled acceptably, but still prefers to give his time and attention to his business interests. He served for nine years successively in the capacity of Township Clerk, at the end of which time he declined being re-nominated. He is giving his children good educational advantages and is a strong supporter of the most advanced educational methods. For fourteen years he has been School Treasurer of the township, and has used his influence in the erection of many schoolhouses.

The well-improved farm of Mr. Coffman now contains within its limits two hundred and sixty-five acres, which are all under cultivation and have many substantial improvements upon them. Our subject is well informed on general topics and is especially posted on all matters pertaining to agricultural pursuits. He takes a number of leading farm journals, and keeps fully abreast with the times, though still standing by the old and tried methods. He has the respect of all who know him, for he is a man of unblemished reputation and sterling integrity.



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