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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



ALEXANDER McELFRESH, a retired farmer and resident of Le Roy, has been a resident of the Prairie State for nearly thirty years. He was born in Ohio County, W. Va., Sept. 22, 1817, his father being Jesse McElfresh, a native of Maryland.

His grandfather, Richard M., is also believed to have been a native of that State and there spent his declining years. The father of our subject was reared on a farm in his native State and when a young man went to Pennsylvania. He remained there about two years and in the meantime removed to West Virginia, settling on Short Creek, in Ohio County, where he engaged in farming and spent the last years of his life.

The mother of our subject before her marriage was Miss Ann E. Murphy, who was born in Pennsylvania and was the daughter of Alexander Murphy, a native of the North of Ireland, who came to America when a young man and was married to a German lady.

Mr. Murphy teamed across the mountains, and met his death by a fall from his wagon, receiving injuries from which he soon died. His widow, the grandmother of our subject, afterward removed to Holmes Co., Ohio, and died there at the home of her daughter, at the age of one hundred and two years.

The parental household included seventeen children, ten sons and seven daughters, of whom our subject was the fourth son and seventh child. His parents were poor, and as soon as large enough he assisted in the support of the family.

His first work was in a wood-yard on the Ohio River, where he commenced when ten years of age, and received for his labors from $5 to $8 per month. He worked in this way for about six years, and then in company with a brother, rented a farm, which they operated for about five years, and then our subject decided to learn the cabinet-maker's trade.

After two years at this and two more at carpentering he resumed farming with his brother-in-law. When twenty-six years of age he was married, in Jefferson County, Ohio, and rented a farm there. He had about $200, which he had saved from his earnings, and this enabled him to carry on a farm.

He operated in this manner until 1858, and then came to Illinois, making the journey with two horse-teams and being accompanied by his brother-in-law, Robert Hanson. The family came by rail.

He first rented land in Downs Township, this county, two years, then purchased eighty acres upon which was a small house and a straw shed. He moved with his family into the house, and they continued to reside there until 1876, the first house in the meantime having been replaced by a comfortable frame dwelling and the straw shed by a good barn.

In the year last named, Mr. McE. rented his farm and purchased the place which he now owns and occupies in Le Roy. He is now living retired from active business and surrounded by all the comforts of life, and is reaping the reward of his early industry.

The marriage of Mr. McElfresh took place Jan. 4, 1843, the lady of his choice being Miss Lydia Hanson, who was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, Nov. 10, 1825. Her father, John Hanson, a native of Ireland, came to the United States with his parents when five years of age and was reared in Pennsylvania. He learned the trade of a blacksmith in Lancaster County, and after his marriage removed to Ohio, settling in Jefferson County, where he spent the remainder of his life.

The mother, formerly Miss Lydia Galloway, was a native of Pennsylvania. They became the parents of ten children, three sons and seven daughters.

Mr. and Mrs. McElfresh have no children of their own. Their adopted daughter, Almira, became the wife of Charles Roach, now deceased.

Mr. McE. belongs to the Cumberland Presbyterian and Mrs. McE. to the Methodist Episcopal Church. The paternal grandmother of our subject's wife was a sister of Gen. Montgomery [ed., Gen. Richard Montgomery], who fell in battle at Quebec during the Revolutionary War.

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), 356. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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