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, p. 269.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
O. Z. HOUSLEY is senior member of the firm of Housley & Drake, who are engaged in general merchandising in Grove City, and have a branch house at Stonington. Mr. Housley is well known as one of the successful business men of Christian County, of which he is one of the honored early settlers, his residence here dating back to 1856. He is a man of recognized ability as a business man, and is truly self-made, as he started out to carve his career without means or assistance. As the years have passed he has succeeded in adding to his property, until he is now one of the substantial and well-to-do men of the county.

The birthplace of Mr. Housley was near
Akron, Ohio, and the date of that event was July 15, 1851. His father, Henry Housley, was a native of the Old Dominion, who went with his parents to Ohio when only a child. On arriving at man's estate, he was wedded in the Buckeye State to Miss Charlotte Ulrich, a native of Pennsylvania. For a number of years he followed agricultural pursuits in Ohio, and in 1856 located in Mt. Auburn Township, Christian County, where he purchased a farm and devoted himself to its cultivation for a number of years. He then rented his farm and removed to Grove City, where he has since lived a retired life, honored and respected by all.

He was a strong
Republican, and during the Lincoln and Douglas campaign, our subject, who was then a lad, took sides with Douglas. He raised a hickory pole in his honor, being doubtless influenced thereto by his grandfather Ulrich, who read to him the Democratic papers. The father, not knowing what else to do, decided to place an ash pole beside the hickory pole, both remaining during the campaign.

O. Z. Housley has passed nearly his entire life in this county, as he was only five years old when his parents located here. For those days he had good school advantages, as, in addition to his district school education, he went for one term to a High School near
Des Moines, Iowa.

After leaving the parental roof, he worked for about a year at the carpenter's trade, and at the expiration of that time found he had a surplus of $40. This money he carefully invested in a small stock of shelf hardware and tinware, with a few agricultural implements, selling the latter on commission. Though this beginning was extremely small, he was not discouraged, but kept manfully adding to his stock of goods as fast as possible. When a few years had passed he added a stock of groceries, and in time drugs and dry goods. During the past twenty years the firm has been changed several times, the present partnership being formed in 1881.

The firm of Housley & Drake have a large store building, and carry an immense assortment of drygoods, groceries, drugs, hardware, boots and shoes. Handling as much money as they have for many years, they have found it convenient for their patrons to establish an exchange bank, and do considerable local banking. They have built up a large trade, which has been increasing for years.

In the spring of 1893, their branch business house at
Stonington was established. There they have put in a good stock of groceries and hardware, and also an exchange bank, which is under the supervision and management of Mr. Drake, the junior partner. The prospects for this branch store appear to be very encouraging. When we consider from what a small beginning these two large business houses have grown, it can but be a matter of surprise. It is simply an example of what strict attention to business and the wants of patrons can accomplish.

Mr. Housley is a stanch supporter of the
Democratic party, having voted for its nominees in every Presidential campaign since 1872, and was one of the first supporters of Hon. Mr. Springer in this district. He has also been active in local politics, and has filled various township positions, among which we mention that of Highway Commissioner, Township Treasurer and Clerk.

During the administration of President Hayes, he was appointed Postmaster, and was again appointed during
Cleveland's administration. His successor was Mr. Drake, who served also for four years. Mr. Housley was then again appointed to the position, and at the present time is the efficient incumbent of the office, which has been in his hands now for some fourteen years.

The marriage of Mr. Housley and Miss Victoria Reese was performed in this county in October, 1873. The lady is a native of Pennsylvania, where she grew to womanhood. The family comprises four children: Maud, who is employed in her father's store; Frances C. and Flora B., twins; and Carrie May. The eldest child died in infancy. The parents with the elder members of the family are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Grove City, of which Mr. Housley is one of the active members, having served in various offices. He is a
Mason, belonging to Grove City Lodge, in which he held the office of Worshipful for some seven or eight years, and is now acting as Secretary. For several years he was called upon to represent his lodge in the Grand Lodge of Illinois. He also holds membership with the Modern Woodmen of America.


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