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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



MRS. NANCY ARROWSMITH, a lady well-known and highly respected in Leroy, where she has her present residence, is a native of Washington County, Md., and was born May 13, 1810. Her father, John Oliver, was born in County Derry, Ireland, where he grew to manhood and followed agricultural pursuits. Early in life he emigrated to the United States, locating first in Washington County, Md. From there, in 1812, accompanied by his wife and three children, he emigrated to Ohio, the removal being made after the fashion of those days, overland by wagons. He located in Ross County, being among the early pioneers of that section, and purchased a tract of timber land upon which he erected a log house and in due time opened up a good farm where he lived to see the country around him developed and brought to a fine state of cultivation. He died there upon the homestead which he had established, on the 12th of February, 1852, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years. In early manhood he was united in marriage with Miss Mary Ann Beck, who was born in Maryland and descended from Scottish ancestry. She also died in Ross County, Ohio, Sept. 13, 1852, surviving her husband only a few months. The parental family included nine children.

The subject of this history made her home with her parents until her marriage with John Wesley Arrowsmith, which occurred on the 24th of December, 1823. Mr. A. was born in Ross County, Ohio, Oct. 31, 1805. His father, Samuel Arrowsmith, and his grandfather, also named Samuel, were natives of Maryland. The latter was of English descent and one of the pioneers of Ross County, Ohio, where with the assistance of his children he improved a farm upon which he passed the remainder of his days. The father of John W. was a young man when his parents removed to Ohio, and not long afterward he was married to Miss Elizabeth Ritter, a native of Maryland and of German ancestry. The young people lived in Ross County until 1839, then came to Illinois, the journey being made overland with wagons. Mr. A. purchased quite an extensive tract of land, located in what is now Padua and Arrowsmith Townships. He made his home in the former township and remained there until his death, which occurred in 1842. His widow survived him many years, making her home with her children the latter part of her life, and died in 1869. The town of Arrowsmith was named in honor of this family.

Before his marriage John W. Arrowsmith purchased a farm near the old homestead of his father where he resided with his family until 1854. He then sold out and came overland to Illinois, their household goods being transported in wagons, also the provisions, and they camped and cooked by the wayside. After a journey of over two weeks they arrived in this county, and in due time Mr. A. purchased 250 acres of land in Empire Township, besides ninety in Padua, four miles north of Leroy. Later he purchased another tract in Arrowsmith Township. He resided on his homestead in Padua Township, until his death, Jan. 11, 1885. Mrs. A. now lives in Leroy with her daughter, Maria. Her six children are located as follows: Hannah,Mrs. Birney, is a resident of Seward County, Neb.; Ross lives in Padua Township, McLean Co., Ill.; Elizabeth J., Mrs. Wahls, lives in Empire Township; Mary E., Mrs. Kellar, in Arrowsmith; John W. in Padua, and Maria in Leroy.

Mrs. Arrowsmith and her husband connected themselves with the Methodist Episcopal Church early in life of which they remained members for a period of over fifty years. In 1883, they celebrated their golden wedding, at which were gathered a large number of relatives and friends, and which was made the occasion of general rejoicing because such worthy and excellent people were spared so long to live among the acquaintances which they had attached to them by their uniform kindness of heart and blameless lives.

[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]


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