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.
ELIAS P. SANDERS, who is engaged in general merchandising in Pana, is one of her honored pioneers, and his name is inseparably connected with her history from the beginning of her existence. He well deserves representation in this volume, and it is with pleasure that we present his life record to our readers. He was born in Montgomery County, Ill., May 31, 1833, and is a son of John and Elizabeth (Powell) Sanders, who were natives of Kentucky. His paternal grandfather, John Sanders, was born in North Carolina, and in an early day emigrated to Kentucky, becoming one of its pioneers. There he spent his remaining days, his death occurring at the advanced age of ninety.

The maternal grandfather was also born in North Carolina, and removed to Kentucky when the Indians were far more numerous than the white settlers. He followed agricultural pursuits throughout his entire life, and died in Illinois while visiting relatives, at the age of one hundred years.

In 1826, John Sanders left the State of his nativity and settled in Montgomery County, Ill., when it was still inhabited by the redmen, and when buffalo and deer could still be seen on the prairie. He served as a soldier in the Black Hawk War. In 1861 he removed to Pana, where he passed away in 1864, at the age of sixty-six. His wife survived him until September, 1892, and died in her eighty-ninth year.

He was a member of the Lutheran Church in early life, but afterward both he and his wife became members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Their family numbered twelve children, eight sons and four daughters: Alvin, Elza, Jahn, Ervin, Elizabeth (wife of E. Whitten), Elias P., Jefferson, Robert, Jane (wife of James Brown), Rebecca (wife of John Boss), Finley and Leuvina.

Mr. Sanders whose name heads this record was reared among the wild scenes of frontier life and was early inured to the arduous labors of cultivating and improving a farm. In 1853, when a young man of twenty years, he cast in his lot with the early settlers of Christian County, and has here since made his home, with the exception of three years when he was steward or supply agent for the army and navy, with headquarters at Mound City. He began his education in his native county, and his primary privileges were supplemented by study in Shurtleff College, of Alton.

During those early days Mr. Sanders graded for the railway, and was Superintendent of Construction on the Terre Haute, Alton & St. Louis Railroad between Litchfield and Hillsboro, in 1853. He engaged in selling goods to the pioneers in Montgomery County, and after his arrival in Pana carried on general merchandising for four years.

He then established the <Central Illinois Democrat [ed., Jacksonville, IL], which he edited for a year. About that time he shipped a stock of dry goods to Memphis, Tenn., but the war broke out and he did not unload his goods, shipping them back to Mound City, where he carried on business during the war.

Subsequently, he bought a steamboat, and while running on the river made his home in Pulaski County, Ill., having there purchased land of John A. McClernand, Gov. French and Gen. Rollins.

No male settler of Pana who resided here at the time of Mr. Sanders' arrival now survives. In fact, he was one of the earliest settlers and helped to bury the first man who died in this locality.

Mr. Sanders built the first brick house in Pana, and dug the first cellar. He once owned the block on which the court house now stands, using it for a park, which he kept full of deer. He served as the first express agent of Pana, and had the first money safe in the place. From the beginning he
has been prominently identified with all its growth and upbuilding, and its progress and prosperity are due in no small degree to his untiring efforts in its behalf.

Mr. Sanders was married April 23, 1854, to Miss Elizabeth Fletcher, daughter of James and Jane (Powell) Fletcher, natives of Kentucky. Six children were born unto them, four sons and two daughters, of whom Fletcher and Harry died in early childhood. Frank married Miss Maggie Loyd, by whom he has two children, Clyde and Bertha, and is now occupying the position of salesman with the firm of Barrett & Barrett, of Chicago. Rose, Will and Zella are the other members of the family.

Mr. and Mrs. Sanders hold membership with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and have been active workers in its interests. He was Class-leader and Steward for many years, and is now serving as Trustee. Socially, he belongs to Adair Lodge No. 334, I. O. O. F.

In politics, he is a Democrat, and for four years filled the office of Justice of the Peace. From a financial standpoint, his life has also been successful. He now owns one hundred and twenty acres of land in Shelby and Fayette Counties, and has a good home and other city property in Pana.


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