ALEXANDER J. YANCEY, formerly a prosperous farmer of this county but now engaged in the livery business at McLean,
has been a resident of Illinois since 1872. He was born in Orange County, Va., Aug. 3, 1845, being the son of Alexander
and Elizabeth Jane (Lee) Yancey. The former was born in Madison County, Va., and the latter in Orange County, where
they settled after their marriage. The father of our subject was a farmer and slaveholder, and afterward became
overseer of a plantation in the Old Dominion. He died in Orange County, Va., Aug. 7, 1845, one day before the birth
of his son, our subject. The latter was the third child of his parents, two others having died in infancy. He lived
with his mother until he was ten years of age and was then indentured to a farmer for a term of five years. Being
unkindly treated, he only served two of these and then went to live with an uncle, with whom he remained until
fourteen years of age. Our subject then joined his mother in Rockingham County, Va., and received his first instruction
at a school. He was employed upon a farm during the summer seasons and pursued his studies in winter, thus gaining
a fair education.
In the fall of 1860, young Yancey entered a printing-office in Harrisonburg, but not liking the trade soon retired and became an apprentice to a blacksmith, with whom he served four months. The shop was then closed and he was variously employed until the summer of 1862. The war being then in progress he was conscripted into the rebel army for detached duty, and after serving six months entered Co. C, 6th Va. Vol. Cav., which rendezvoused at Camp Lee, Richmond. Young Yancey, with others, was obliged to furnish his own horse, to pay for which he borrowed $500 of his uncle. The first horse was killed, and he purchased another. To add to his misfortunes he was wounded at the battle of Gaines’ Mills, but after a time recovered sufficiently, and was assigned to light duty, being placed in charge of the cattle of the commissary department. He was in the valley of Virginia upon the surrender of Lee and soon after returned to his old home.
Out subject resumed his school studies for six months, and then commenced to learn the carpenter's trade. After serving two years he received journeyman's wages and began to save money. He purchased lots in Harrisonburg, upon which he built tenement houses and later became a contractor and builder, which business he followed until 1872. He then sold his interest in that section, and coming West to Illinois, purchased fifty-three acres of land in Mt. Hope Township, this county, and commenced life as a farmer, continuing in agricultural pursuits until 1884. He was prospered in his agricultural and business operations, and as time passed on added to his first purchase and is now the owner of 163 acres, finely improved and under a good state of cultivation. Besides this property he owns twenty lots in different places in the village of McLean. In 1884 he rented the farm, and coming to McLean engaged in his present business.
Mr. Yancey was married in 1869, to Miss Susan C. Rodeffer, who was born in Shenandoah County, Va., being the daughter of William H. and Elizabeth C. (Sterling) Rodeffer. Of this union there have been born six children: Elizabeth C., Maggie V., Arthur, who died in infancy, Charles H., Lulu J. and Burt. Thomas Johnson, ten years of age, is also an inmate of the household. Mr. and Mrs. Yancey are members in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and socially our subject belongs to McLean Lodge No. 409, A. F. & A. M.
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), 599. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.