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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



LEWIS HARLEY, deceased, late a highly respected resident of Logan County, Ill., was a native of Pennsylvania, born in December, 1820, and departed this life at his home in Logan County, Ill., on the 6th of January, 1871. He became a resident of that county in 1844 and built up for himself an enviable record as an honest man, a good citizen, and a valued member of the community. He commenced at the foot of the ladder in life and his career offers a striking illustration of what may be accomplished by inborn principles of honor, truth and resolution, and perseverance in battling with the difficulties of life.

The father of our subject, Abraham Harley, was also a native of the Keystone State from which he removed to Ohio when his son Lewis was yet a child. He settled with his family near Dayton, and after living there a few years they proceeded further westward and finally located in this county, being among its earliest settlers. Their location was near a handsome grove which later received its name from and in honor of the Harley family, which it still bears.

There, in the course of time, and after our subject had grown to years of discretion, the father and son established a comfortable home, improved a fine tract of land and erected a sawmill. The tide of prosperity, however, finally turned against them, and by a series of misfortunes the property was lost to the family and its various members scattered in different directions to look out for themselves as best they could.

Lewis was turned out into the world with all his earthly possessions tied up in a pocket handkerchief. He had been reared to habits of industry, however, and his bright intelligent face soon secured him friends. He first engaged to work by the month in a distillery, and at once commenced to save a portion of his earnings.

A few years later and at the time of his marriage he was the owner of forty acres of land in White Oak Township. This he sold afterward and purchased a tract of wild land, eighty acres, in Mt. Hope Township.

Upon this he built a frame house, where he resided with his wife and family for two years, in the meantime breaking the sod and fencing the land, and two years later sold it at an advanced price. This enabled him to purchase 400 acres of land in Iowa.

He did not remove there, however, but soon disposed of this purchase, and in company with two brothers, Guy and Marian Tuttle, built a sawmill near Kickapoo River, and was engaged in operating this two years.

He then disposed of his interest in the mill and purchased 320 acres of land on sections 13 and 14 of what was afterward Atlanta Township, Logan County. On account of insufficient means he only put up a small frame house here, into which he removed his family and commenced the improvement of his purchase. He planted hedge all around it and divided it into forty-acre fields.

About this time the war came on, and he at once laid aside his personal and private interests and proffered his services to assist in the preservation of the Union, becoming a member of Co. A, 117th Illinois Infantry. He performed his duties bravely and faithfully as a soldier, encountered with his comrades the dangers and vicissitudes of war, which he escaped unharmed, and at the close received his honorable discharge on the 7th of August, 1865.

He then returned to his home in Logan County and resumed his farming pursuits. His health, however, had become greatly impaired from privation and exposure in the army, but he made no application for a pension and endured his affliction as patiently and bravely as he had done when on the march and in the field.

Mr. Harley was remarkably enterprising and ambitious, and willing to labor cheerfully to accomplish any desired result. His ambition led him to labor for a comfortable home and a competency, and his worthy efforts in this direction were richly rewarded.

At the time of his death he was the owner of a fine homestead, consisting of 340 acres of land, a good brick residence, large frame barn, and all the necessary out-buildings required by a first-class agriculturist. The farm was well stocked with high grade animals, the sale of which, after his death, amounted to about $5,000.

His marriage with Miss Elizabeth J. Haughey occurred in February, 1849, in McLean County. Mrs. Harley was born in Greene County, Ohio, Aug. 7, 1831, and was the daughter of Joseph and Esther (White) Haughey (see sketch of Matthew Haughey). After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Harley settled in Logan County, and lived there until the following August, when they moved into the house of Mrs. Harley's father, where they remained during the winter, while Mr. H. built a house on his own land.

Of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Harley there were born two children: Abraham died when two years and five months old; Francis Marian, the surviving son, was born in Logan County, Ill., July 8, 1855. He pursued his early studies in the common schools and completed his education by attendance at the State Normal University. He now owns and occupies a part of the old homestead in Atlanta Township, Logan County, and has elsewhere about 300 acres of valuable land. He married Miss Fidelia M. Tuttle, who was born in Logan County, and is the daughter of Guy and Martha A. (Roach) Tuttle. They have one child, a daughter Edna.

Since the death of her husband Mrs. H. has administered upon the estate. She remained upon the homestead until 1878, and then purchased property in McLean, where she erected a fine residence. She has in her own right 160 acres of land, which comprises a part of the home farm and which is operated by a lessee. She is a lady of fine business capacities, greatly respected in her community on account of her personal worth, and a member in good standing of the Congregational 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), 308. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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