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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



JOHN HAY, one of the honored pioneers of the Prairie State, came to Illinois in the spring of 1834, and has witnessed with keen interest and satisfaction its rapid development and prosperity. During a long residence in Danvers Township he has become widely and favorably known as one of its most reliable and valued citizens. He is now far down the sunset hill of life and remembers many of its interesting events with vivid distinctness, possessing all his faculties to a remarkable degree. He has been a member of the Christian Church for a period of over fifty-five years. He owns and occupies a fine homestead of 120 acres of valuable land, and is an ever welcome and familiar figure in the vicinity which has known him so long and known nothing of him but good.

The subject of our sketch was born in Washington County, Va., March 18, 1797, and is consequently now over ninety years of age. He is the son of Peter and Elizabeth (Finley) Hay, natives respectively of Massachusetts and Virginia. His mother was born in Augusta County in the latter State, and Peter Hay, in Boston, Mass. The latter, when a young man, went to Richmond, Va., and there followed the business of a tinner, with which he was occupied at intervals through life, in the meantime also being engaged in farming pursuits. After their marriage the parents removed to Logan County, Ky., in about 1801, and resided there for nearly twenty years. Thence they removed to Christian County in the same State, where the father died in 1824, and the mother followed him after a few months. They were both connected with the old-school Presbyterians. Their children were named as follows: Jane B., Mary F., Marcia S., Rachel, Catharine, John and George F., the two latter being the only representatives of the family living.

Mr. Hay remained under the parental roof until after attaining his majority, receiving a commonschool education and learning to spell from the "Old Dillworth." In the spring of 1834 he came West, in the meantime having been married, and purchased a section of land near his present home, to which he removed his family the following spring. His marriage occurred in October, 1821, when he was twenty-four years of age, the maiden of his choice being Miss Seley Killebrew, who remained his companion for a period of nineteen years, and departed this life on the 9th of August, 1840. Their children were: Samuel S., Peter G., Sarah E., John W., Mary J., Susan G., Seley E., Joseph E., and one daughter who died unnamed.

Mr. Hay for his second wife married Mrs. Sarah Daniels, of South Grove, Ill., who was born Sept. 5, 1810. This lady died on the 22d of February, 1858, leaving one child, Alphia, who was born March 5, 1843. In 1860 our subject married Mrs. Cynthia Rowell, the mother of Hon. J. H. Rowell, Member of Congress, and this lady died Nov. 4, 1867. Of the four children of Mr. Hay living, all are residents of Illinois. Soon after coming here John Hay became actively interested in the affairs of this section. At the time of his arrival, the township was not organized, although a Justice of the Peace was required, and he filled the position with credit to himself and satisfaction to all concerned. He was also School Director and Township Trustee for a number of years.

Susan G. Hay, a daughter of our subject, who was born in Illinois in 1835, became the wife of George Moe on the 5th of January, 1868; the latter was born in Michigan in 1837, and during the late war enlisted as a Union soldier in the 4th Michigan Cavalry. He was wounded at the battle of Kennesaw Mountain and afterward, on account of this, received his discharge and is now drawing a small pension from the Government. Mr. and Mrs. Moe are now living in Colorado, the former being engaged in mining. Mr. M. is Republican in politics and belongs to the Masonic fraternity, being a member of a Bloomington Lodge. Mrs. Moe belongs to the Order of the Eastern Star and is also a member in good standing of the Christian 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), 532. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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