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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



JAMES HENRY LYON CRUMBAUGH, living on section 7, Empire Township, was, before he divided his property among his children, one of the largest land-owners of that township. The financial success in life which he has met with has been due to his own energy, good judgment and perseverance, as he was never the recipient of any legacy whatsoever.

Mr. Crumbaugh was born in Henderson County, Ky., May 1, 1826. His father, Henry Crumbaugh, was born in Frederick County, Md., April 25, 1789, and his father, grandfather of our subject, Solomon Crumbaugh, was likewise a native of Maryland. Henry Crumbaugh was reared to manhood in his native county, and while yet young in years learned the blacksmith's trade.

On becoming his own man he went to Kentucky, and locating in Scott County, worked at his trade and also at farming. He was there married to Sarah Baldcock, a native of Kentucky, and a daughter of James D. Baldcock, born in Virginia, and her mother, whose maiden name was Hogan, was a native of Kentucky.

Three or four years after his marriage, Henry Crumbaugh moved to Henderson County, Ky., and there lived until 1828. During that year he disposed of his interests in Kentucky and started west for Illinois, accompanied by his wife and two children. The journey was made overland, the father driving his stock, and his good wife making the journey mostly on horseback. They terminated their trip at Elkhart, Sangamon County, in the neighborhood of which place he was a farmer on rented lands until 1830.

He then came to Tazewell County, and selected a claim in what is now Empire Township, McLean County, and located on section 14. He built the customary log cabin, and returned to Elkhart for his family and brought them to his new home.

The cabin was incomplete when the family arrived, there being no floor, and Mr. Crumbaugh piled the household goods inside and went to split puncheon for the floor, and also made a door. There was not a foot of sawed lumber used in the construction of this cabin, and the chimney was of mud and sticks.

This was the season before the deep snow which is so well remembered by the few people who were in the county at that time. The nearest mills were miles away, and the snow was so deep and crusted that for weeks travel was entirely impeded. Nearly half his stock died during that winter, and had it not been for the wild game in the country at that time many a family would have perished with starvation.

Mr. Crumbaugh continued to live on that place until his death in 1877. He had lived to see the country develop from a wild and uncultivated prairie to one of the most productive counties in the State, and profited by its progress to the extent of possessing a competency at the time of his death.

He was a Democrat in politics, and always voted for Democratic presidential nominees except once, when he cast his vote for Henry Clay.

His good wife died in February, 1885. Twelve children were born to them, six of whom grew to attain the age of man and womanhood. Narcissa married Simpson E. Thompson, and they live in Empire Township; our subject was the next in order of birth; John E. is a resident of Le Roy; Andrew J. is a farmer of Empire Township; Lewis C. lives on the old homestead.

The subject of this notice was but two years old when he came to this State with his parents. Here he received his education in the common schools, attending the first school ever taught at Le Roy, James H. Lincoln being the teacher.

On attaining a suitable age he made a full hand in the cultivation of the farm, and continued to reside with the old folk until his marriage, and then bought 100 acres of land east of Le Roy, on which he lived for five and a half years.

He then sold it and bought where he is at present residing. His first purchase here was 160 acres, and he added to it by subsequent purchases until at one time he was the proprietor of 1,000 acres in Empire and Downs Townships. A goodly portion of this is divided among his children, but he has sufficient left to support him in his retirement from active labor during the latter years of his life.

Mr. Crumbaugh was married, Sept. 28, 1851, to Amanda M. Buck. She was born in Switzerland County, Ind., Feb. 10, 1828, and is a daughter of Hiram and Mary (Karr) Buck. Of the union of our subject and Miss Buck three children were born: Laura E. is the wife of William Lafferty, a farmer of Downs Township; Edith May married Charles S. Lafferty, and they are residents of Weldon, DeWitt Co., Ill.; Hiram H. is living at home.

Mr. Crumbaugh has held the various offices of his township, including Collector, Commissioner of Highways and also Township Supervisor. He and his daughter May are members of the Universalist Church.

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), 387. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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