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.
STEPHEN WILLEY, deceased, was born on the 7th of June, 1827, in Hamilton County Ohio, and came to this county with his parents about 1843. Here he grew to manhood. No event of special importance occurred during his boyhood and youth, but after arriving at years of maturity he was married, on the 26th of December, 1849, to Miss Nancy Blunt, a native of Tennessee, born March 10, 1831. She came to this county with her father when quite a small child, and it has since been her home.

Mr. Willey began life for himself a poor boy, but he possessed an indomitable will, energy, courage and perseverance, and made the most of his opportunities. Steadily he worked his way upward, and at the time of his death he left a valuable estate of seven hundred and twenty acres of choice land. He was a very prominent farmer and stock-dealer, and brought the first herd of Shorthorn cattle to this county, also introduced some fine hogs.

Mr. Willey was of German descent, and possessed the excellent traits of character of that people. He was progressive and public-spirited, and the community found in him one of its valued citizens, who always gave his support and co-operation to those enterprises calculated to prove of public benefit.

He took quite an active interest in political affairs, and was a stanch supporter of the Republican party and its principles. His death occurred on the 2d of August, 1870, and he was laid to rest in Taylorville Cemetery. His wife passed away July 5, 1890, and was placed by his side. She was of English and Irish extraction.

Both of the children of the Willey family are yet living. Mary, the elder, was born March 15, 1851, in Christian County. She acquired a good education, and remained at home until twenty years of age, when, on the 20th of February, 1871, she became the wife of William J. Ettinger, who was born October 17, 1841, in Dauphin County, Pa.

He became a harness dealer of Taylorville, and there carried on that business for a number of years previous to his death, which occurred May 11, 1882. He too was buried in Taylorville Cemetery. During the late war, he valiantly served for three years and nine months in the Eighteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and took part in many important engagements.

Mr. Ettinger left three children. Hayden, who was born July 1, 1873, is a highly-educated young man, who now aids his mother in managing the home farm; Jessie was born July 10, 1877; and Allen on the 6th of May, 1881. Mrs. Ettinger is still living upon her farm of four hundred and forty acres, which is one of the best in the county. It is improved with all modern conveniences and accessories, being complete in all its appointments. She also owns an eighty-acre farm in Taylorville Township, and a residence in the city of Taylorville, where she spends the winter seasons, while in the summer months she again goes to the farm.

On her father's death, in 1870, she inherited two hundred and forty acres of land, to which she has added, from time to time, until she now has five hundred and twenty acres. She possesses most excellent business and executive ability, and her property has been increased through her own good management and well-directed efforts. She possesses many excellencies of character, and is a most estimable lady, whose friends throughout the community are many. Her brother Anthony is a progressive farmer of this county. The family is honored in the town of Willey, which bears their name.


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