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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



J. S. BAY, one of the old settlers of this county and now a retired farmer, is living at his comfortable home in Bloomington Township, he is pleasantly located on section 15, and has at this place fifty-four acres of land. He also has a small farm south of his home, in the same township. Mr. Bay became a resident of McLean County in 1837, at once making his location in Bloomington Township, and with the exception of eight years has made this township his home since that time. During this interval he resided in Piatt County and carried on farming, but chose this locality for his final home.

The subject of our sketch was born near Mechanicsburg, Champaign Co., Ohio, on the 30th of March, 1816. His father, William Bay, was a native of Pennsylvania, and of Scotch-Irish ancestry. He went to Champaign County, Ohio, in early manhood, and was there united in marriage with Miss Susanna Hudson, a native of Baltimore, Md., and descended from the same races as her husband. They lived in Ohio for some years after their marriage, and until after the birth of five children. The elder Bay then decided to go westward for a permanent location. Accordingly, with his family, he emigrated to Indiana in 1824, and they took up their first location in Indianapolis, where they remained for a period of fifteen years, during which time five more children were added to the household circle.

In 1830, with his wife and family, Mr. Bay removed to McHenry County, Ill., and afterward came to McLean County and settled one and one-half miles west of the city of Bloomington. There they remained for ten years, and afterward removed within the city limits. While upon a visit at Galesburg, Knox County, the father was taken ill, and died there on the 30th of August, 1844. The mother survived him for a period of twenty-four years, and departed this life at her home in McLean County in September, 1808. They were most excellent and worthy people and were highly respected in the community. William Bay was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and officiated as local minister the greater part of his life. He was not especially educated for this work, but possessed fine abilities as a speaker, and was more than ordinarily intelligent.

J. S. Bay commenced doing business for himself when quite a youth, his first employment away from home being that of mail carrier between Indianapolis and Madison, Ind. He held this important position for eight years, and after the first year was the general and special agent of the post-office department and was only sixteen years old when he then engaged as mail agent.

After coming to McLean County Mr. Bay was married to Miss Sarah Routt, in February, 1840. Mrs. Bay was a sister of ex-Gov. Routt, of Colorado. She was born in Kentucky, but her parents dying when she was young, she came North to Illinois with her uncle, with whom she lived until her marriage with our subject, and after becoming the mother of two children, died on the 17th of March, 1844, a little more than four years after her marriage. One of the children is deceased, and the other, Sarah by name, is the widow of Edwin S. Walker, who was a nephew of the late Judge David Davis; Cornelia died at the age of four years.

Mr. Bay was the second time married, in Warren County, Ill., Sept. 27, 1846, to Miss Alvina Bay, who was a native of Ohio and was born Jan. 26, 1828. This lady became the mother of ten children, and departed this life Nov. 6, 1882, at the age of fifty-four years. The children of Mr. Bay by his second marriage were as follows: Manfred J., Lidia A. and William are married; Mary I. is deceased; Clara E. and Hattie are married; Fannie is deceased, and the remainder are at home Edwin R., John S. and Charles E.

Mr. Bay married his present wife in Vermilion County, Ill., Sept. 11, 1884. the lady being Miss Mary F. Reid, of Champaign County, Ohio. She was born Dec. 6, 1859, and came to Vermilion County, Ill., while a young child, where she was reared and received her education. She was one of the younger children of her parents' family, and at the age of seventeen became a teacher in the public schools, and was thus engaged in this township for some years before her marriage. She became the mother of one child, Ralph S., who died in infancy.

Mr. Bay has occupied a prominent position among his fellow-townsmen since coming to this locality. He was Constable for twelve years and has served as Deputy Sheriff. Politically he is a stanch Republican, and both our subject and wife are members in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The homestead of Mr. Bay is very pleasantly located, and his family are surrounded by all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. Their home and its surroundings indicate the presence of cultivated taste and refinement, and they enjoy the highest respect of their friends and associates.

[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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