BENJAMIN STRETCH. As a representative of the agricultural class of McLean County who have made that vocation
a success in life, by energetic effort, economy and good judgment, we take pleasure in mentioning the name of the
subject of this notice. He has a fine farm on section 5, Towanda Township, on which he resides, and where he is
engaged in the prosecution of his labors, and in which he is meeting with signal success. The father of our subject
was Jesse, and the mother Elizabeth (Vandolah) Stretch, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania. The father was
a carpenter by trade, and was chiefly engaged in working at the same during his life. After his marriage he settled
in Pennsylvania, whence he removed to Ohio and lived in the neighborhood of Dayton until the fall of 1830.
During that year he came to this county overland, accompanied by his wife and nine children, and settled in what is now known as Money Creek Township. There the old folk lived and labored, with but one interest in common, until their death. They had a large family, fourteen children, who lived to attain the age of man and womanhood, eight of them being daughters and six of them sons. The father was born Feb. 15, 1795, and died Dec. 29, 1852. His wife was born March 6, 1790, and departed this life May 9, 1868. They were among the earliest settlers in McLean County, and passed through all the trials incident to a settlement in a new country.
Benjamin Stretch was the thirteenth in order of birth of his parents' children, and first saw light in Money Creek Township, this county, Nov. 28, 1830. His school privileges were exceedingly limited, and the knowledge he possesses has been acquired through years of constant observation, reading and practice. He lived with the old folk until twenty-one years of age, and thus far in life his years have been devoted mostly to agricultural pursuits. For two or three years our subject was, in company with Cornelius Gatliff and E. M. B. Stretch, under the firm name of Stretch & Gatliff, in mercantile business at Towanda.
After leaving the parental household our subject farmed on rented land for two years, when he was enabled to purchase eighty acres in Money Creek Township. On this tract he settled and continued at farm labor for several years, when he removed to Lexington, Ill., and there engaged in the livery business, and was thus employed for about four years. Disposing of his business at Lexington he returned to his farm and there resided until 1861. During that year he removed to Towanda Township and located where he is at present residing. He is the owner of 540 acres of valuable land, on which he has good improvements. He also handles stock quite extensively, and as a farmer and stock-raiser stands among the foremost of the county.
Mr. Stretch was married in Money Creek Township, Jan. 16, 1851, to Miss Maranda Kerr, daughter of Peter and Jane (Filphot) Kerr, natives of Tennessee. Her parents settled in their native State after their marriage, and there lived until 1848, when they emigrated to Macoupin County, this State, and thence to this county and settled in Money Creek Township. There the father engaged in farming. He was born Sept. 29, 1807, and died at the residence of our subject Feb. 23, 1861. His wife was born Feb. 15, 1808, and departed this life Jan. 19, 1864. They had ten children, two sons and eight daughters, and Mrs. Stretch of this notice was the second in order of birth. She first saw light in Overton County, Tenn., Oct. 21, 1832, and her union with our subject has been blest by the birth of three children living—Ethan M. B., Isabella A. and Winfrod J. P.
Ethan married Miss Ella Rogers, and by her had one child, named Harry L. Ethan was a physician by profession and practiced at Shirley, Ill., for some three years, when his health failed him and he was compelled to give up his practice and return to the farm in Money Creek Township, where he died Oct. 13, 1881.
Isabella A. Stretch was united in marriage with Cornelius Gatliff, and they are living in Towanda Township. Winfrod J. P. was married to Miss Stella McMullon, and they are also living in Towanda Township.
Our subject and wife have also buried two children, who died in infancy, and also a daughter, Edith. Mr. Stretch has held the office of Road Commissioner for several terms. His wife is a member of the Christian Church, and in politics he is a stanch Republican.
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), 696. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.