WILLIAM OLIVER, a pioneer settler and well-to-do farmer of Empire Township, owns 235 acres of valuable land
on section 1, all of which with the exception of a few acres of timber is finely improved and under good cultivation.
Mr. Oliver is of Irish ancestry, his grandfather, William Oliver, Sr., having been born in County Derry, in the
north of Ireland, where he married Miss Nancy Jackson, who was own cousin to Gen. Jackson, President of the United
States. William Oliver, Sr., followed the pursuit of agriculture, and spent his entire life in his native county,
arriving at the advanced age of nearly one hundred and one years. In the meantime he had made two trips to the
United States, spending altogether about seven years in this country before his marriage. His son, John Oliver,
the father of our subject, was also born in County Derry, where he remained until twenty-one years of age, then
emigrated to the United States. He settled near Hagerstown, Washington Co., Md., and seven years later was united
in marriage with Miss Mary Bock. Mrs. O. was a native of Washington County, Md., as also were her parents. After
the birth of three children, John Oliver and his wife removed from Maryland to Ross County, Ohio, about 1811, where
they located upon a farm and passed the remainder of their days, the father being seventy-seven, and the mother
sixty-two years old at the time of decease. They were most excellent Christian people, and John Oliver politically
was a stanch Democrat. The subject of this history was the eldest of five sons and four daughters born to his parents.
His birthplace was near Hagerstown, Md., and the date thereof June 30, 1808. He was but three years of age when
his parents removed to Ohio, and he lived with them until his marriage. This event occurred on the 24th of April,
1834, the maiden of his choice being Miss Mary Cowgill. She was born in Ross County, Ohio, May 14, 1805, and was
the daughter of Eleazar and Jane (McFarland) Cowgill, natives respectively of Virginia and Maine. They settled
in Ross County at the beginning of the present century, and there passed the remainder of their lives. Mr. and
Mrs. O. became the parents of six children, three now deceased: Mary became the wife of Benjamin T. Hall, of Empire
Township, to which he removed when a child with his father from Champaign County, Ohio. He died Dec. 4, 1884, when
nearly fifty-one years of age. They had no children. Mrs. H. at present lives with her father, our subject; John
Oliver married Miss Ruth McDaniel, of Ross County, Ohio, and they reside on a farm in Empire Township, this county;
Henry H., now a resident of Le Roy, was first married to Miss Dunlap, who died about 1863. His second wife was
formerly Miss Nancy J. Farver. Those deceased are Willie, Jr., who died when twenty-one years old. and two infants
unnamed. Mrs. Oliver departed this life at her home in Empire Township, March 21, 1884, aged nearly eighty-one
years, mourned by a large circle of friends.
The paternal grandmother of Mrs. Oliver, who, before her marriage was Miss Martha Curry, was a native of London, England, whence she emigrated to this country, married Mr. Daniel Cowgill, and died in Ross County, Ohio, at the advanced age of one hundred and thirteen years.
Mr. Oliver became a resident of Empire Township in the fall of 1853, making the journey from Ohio to this county overland with teams. He first purchased 200 acres of land, which was in its original condition, and which he brought to a fine state of cultivation, adding to it since that time 200 acres; a part has been divided among his children. The farm buildings are substantial and convenient structures, and the out-buildings, stock, fences and machinery indicate the care and supervision of the intelligent and progressive modern farmer. Mr. Oliver has contributed his full quota toward the agricultural interests of this section, and is held in high esteem throughout his township and county.
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), 460. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.