Stark County IL Biographies - T

Peter Ternns

Peter Ternns, who for twelve years has been engaged in the buying and shipping of live stock at Bradford, is a self-made man who had a very limited capital when he came to this city but in the interim, through his close application, his energy, determination and persistency, has built up a business of substantial and gratifying proportions. He was born in Prussia, Germany, December 10, 1846, a son of John and Anna (Wegner) Ternns, who spent their entire lives in the fatherland.

It was in that country during his boyhood days that Peter Ternns acquired a good education and in 1867, when twenty years of age, he started for America, bidding adieu to friends and native country with the hope of finding better business conditions in the new world. For a year he resided on Long Island and then made his way into the interior of the country, settling in Marshall County, Illinois, where he resided from 1868 until 1894. During that period he lived upon a farm in La Prairie Township, concentrating his energies upon general agricultural pursuits, his labors resulting in the harvesting of good crops owing to the provident care with which he prepared and cultivated the fields. In the year mentioned, however, he removed to Milo Township, Bureau County, where in addition to general farming he carried on stock feeding quite extensively. Thirteen years ago he came to Bradford and a year later began buying and shipping live stock, in which business he is still engaged, handling a large amount of stock annually. He is still the owner of two hundred and ninety-five acres of land in Milo Township and also has one hundred and twenty acres in Marshall County beside a quarter section in Norman County, Minnesota. His property interests also include a fine home in Bradford. All this is the visible evidence of his life of well directed energy and thrift, for he came to the United States empty-handed and has worked his way upward through energy, perseverance and determination.

In 1872 Mr. Ternns was united in marriage to Miss Katie Schmitt, who was born in Peoria County, Illinois, and they have become the parents of nine children: John, living at Coleman, South Dakota; Joseph, whose home is in Texas; Peter, living in Mayfield, Kansas; Maggie, the wife of Martin Stembley of Stark County; Julia, the wife of Jess Hopkins, living in Milo Township, Bureau County; Anna, who is a trained nurse located in Rock Island, Illinois; Lizzie, at home; Amanda, who is engaged in teaching school; and Clarence, at home.

Mr. Ternns give his political support to the democratic party, and for eight years he filled the office of village commissioner in Bradford, while for seven years he was assessor of Osceola Township, discharging his public duties with promptness and fidelity. Both he and his wife are communicants of St. John's Catholic Church, to the support of which they contribute generously. Mr. Ternns has never had occasion to regret his determination to come to the new world, for here he has found the opportunities which he sought -- opportunities which are open to all ambitious and energetic young men. Step by step he has advanced financially, and his position is now a most gratifying one.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 113-114. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

Judge Frank Thomas

Judge Frank Thomas, who is now serving for the second term upon the bench of Stark County, is a native of Wyoming, Illinois, his birth having there occurred September 17, 1848. He is a son of James M. Thomas and a grandson of Genreal Samuel Thomas, the founder of Wyoming, Illinois. The common schools afforded him his preliminary educational training, after which he attended the Northwestern University and subsequently entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he completed the literary course and was graduated. Subsequently he spent two years in the study of law there, and at the end of six years passed in the Michigan univeristy he leftthat institution with the degrees of B.A. and B.L.

Immediately afterward Mr. Thomas returned to his native town and was admitted to the bar in Toulon in September, 1872. He opened a law office in Wyoming and was successful in building up a large practice of a most important character. No dreary novitiate awaited him. He proved his ability in the trial of early cases, which indicated the thoroughness of his preparation and his comprehensive knowedlge of law principles. He was attorney for the Rock Island and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Companies for about eighteen years. He also served as city attorney of Wyoming for about twenty years, discharging his duties with marked ability and thus carefully safeguarding the interests of the city.

His elevation to the bench was the logical sequence of the splendid record which he had made as advocate and couselor and heis now serving for the second term as judge of Stark county. His career as a judge is in harmony with that of his record as a man and citizen--characterized by the utmost fidelity to duly and by a masterful grasp of every problem presented for solution.

Judge Thomas was united in marriage in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the 14th of September, 1872, to Miss Anna Walsh, who was there reared and educated. She died, leaving two children, but the son, Harry Thomas, died at the age of eight years. The daughter, Katie, is now the wife of A.R. Seewald, a merchant of Terre Haute, Indiana, and they have a daughter, Fara Frances. Judge Thomas was again married in Wyoming, on the 12th of April, 1882, his second union being with Miss Julia M. Hoover, who was born in Peoria county. They also have two children: Anna L., the wife of Nelson L. Steer, a wholesale grocer of Peoria; and Julia B., attending the Toulon schools.

Judge Thomas is a member of the First Congregational church of Toulon, and is one of the princeipal workers in the Sunday school of that church. His class of eighteen young ladies speak in the highest terms of him as a teacher, each one of them showing her appreciation of his work in this position by being truly loyal to him. He is a conscientious anti-saloon advocate, which is ever in evidence by his work and contributions to that cause.

[ Stark County Illinois and Its People: A Record Of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement Volume II Published 1916 by The Pioneer Publishing Company – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

General Samuel Thomas and Family

Stark County and Its Pioneers by Mrs. E. H. Shallenberger – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

Among the pioneers of Stark county, certainly General Thomas deserves honorable mention; not only for what he has done as an enterprising public spirited citizen, but for what he has been and still is, even at the advanced age of eight-eight years.

He was born in the state of Connecticut, February 2d, 1787, removed to the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, at the age of twenty, and married Miss Marcia Pettebone of Kingston, Pennsylvania, May 10th, 1807.

He served his country as captain of artillery, during the war of 1812, and while thus engaged an incident occurred, which has been used by some to cast a stigma upon his military record -- i.e., the shooting of James Bird at Erie.

The facts are that Bird, who entered the service as a member of Captain Thomas' Company, was a wild frolicsome fellow, "spreeing" at every opportunity, and when intoxicated, was almost beyond control. On one occasion, when thus excited by liquor, he committed a grave offence, that demanded punishment; the colonel of the regiment, (not the captain of his company) gave him his choice of two things, viz: either to undergo trial by "court martial," or enlist in the marine service. He chose the latter. Perry was then equipping for immediate action, the marine department wanted men, and as the discipline was much more severe than among land forces, it was difficult to obtain volunteers. Bird fought bravely on the lakes, and was promoted to a minor office, something like "sergeant of the guard." But in the fall of 1818, while Perry's fleet still lay at Erie, he took his squad of men off duty, got drunk and all deserted. They were followed, arrested and brought back, and Bird, as the ringleader, was sentenced as a deserter and shot. Captain Thomas had returned home soon after Perry's victory, and was at home when this sad affair occurred, and under any circumstances could have had no voice in the proceedings, as Bird was not under his command at the time. Then, who cannot see that strong drink was responsible for the death of this brave young soldier, and not the officers whose duty it was to enforce necessary discipline.

That the subject of this brief notice was not deemed blameworthy, either in this or any other regard, by those cognizant of the facts of his carrer, is proven by the Governor of Pennsylvania, afterwards (in 1828) confirming him Brigadier General of the 2d Brigade, 8th division, State militia, comprising the counties of Northumberland, Union, Columbia, Luzerne, Susquehanna and Wayne. This commission he held at the time of his emigration to Illinois. He was also twice elected to represent his countrymen in the legislature of Pennsylvania, and seems to have filled this position to the entire satisfaction of his constituents.

But satisfied that "The Star of Empire" would westward take its way, he bade adieu to the beautiful valley that had been the scene of his early struggles and triumphs, and resolutely set forward to found another Wyoming among the then untrodden prairies of Illinois.

After a toilsome over-land journey of forty-two days' duration, camping out nights and conscientiously resting on Sundays, he arrived at the house of Sylvanus Moore, his brother-in-law, on Spoon river, (where Wyoming now stands) October, 1834. He purchased Moore's claim, entered the land at Quincy, June, 1835, and commenced farming and merchandising. In the spring of 1836, laid out the present town of Wyoming.

With him came his wife and several children. His eldest son, William F., (lately deceased at Wyoming) then a youth of seventeen; his daughter, Ruth Anne, then 15 years of age, in May, 1836, was married to Giles C. Dana, of Peoria, where she died of typhoid fever, eight weeks afterwards; James M., then a lad of twelve, has resided most of his life in Wyoming, prominent in business circles, as a dealer in and manufacturer of agricultural implements, &c. He married, December 25th, 1847, Miss Ellen White, also of Peoria.

At the time of the emigration hither, four daughters were already married and presiding over homes of their own. Of these but two lived to share for any length of time, the vicissitudes of western life. Martha P., who was married March 1st, 1834, to J. W. Agard, a native of Tioga county, New York, from which place they removed, (as he writes) "by Erie canal to Buffalo, thence to Detroit by steamer, thence by United States mud scows to Chicago, arriving at Wyoming September 25th, 1836."

Here Mr. Agard opened a farm where part of the town now stands, and resided there until 1845; he entered the "itinerant work" in connection with the M. E. Church, and for some years he held a prominent place in the conferences of that body. But being a man of quiet and studious habits, an independent thinker, and holding political opinions withal, somewhat at variance with many of his brethren, he preferred to withdraw from the more engrossing duties of his vocation, to the quiet of his former home at Wyoming, where he might devote himself more fully to the care of his wife, who had long been an invalid from lung disease, and to which she finally succumbed, September 2d, 1870, regretted by all who knew her, and among whom the memory of her fragile form, and gentle virtues will long linger as a living reality.

Mary Anne, fourth daughter of General Thomas, a gifted and beautiful woman, was married early in life to Whitney Smith, a native of Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, with whom she lived many years at Wyoming. But the union proving an unhappy one, a separation was effected, and she was afterwards married to E. S. Brodhead, another Stark county pioneer, widely known and higly esteemed by his friends, for his genial manners and ready fund of wit and humor. This gentleman died in Toulon, 1873, and the lady under consideration is now married for the third time to Mr. Chase, a man distinguished in political circles, and in the newspaper world of New York.

Mrs. Thomas, wife of the general, closer her long and eventful life, at the old homestead in Wyoming, July 21st, 1865. She suffered a protracted and painful illness, falling a victim to consumption, a scourge that has proven fatal to many of her descendants. She was a lady who fought life's battles with a quiet courage no hardships could subdue, yet wore her honors meekly. Her home was ever the abode of a refined yet generous hospitality which must have often been taxed to the utmost during the first settlement of the country, but no one recalls an instance where her kindness failed. The pioneer preachers of her faith were especially indebted to her for the comforts of a home, when engaged in the wearing and arduous duties of their calling.

But we return to the central figure of this group (whom it will be remembered we left on his newly entered land in 1835) that we may briefly review his course during the forty years he has lived among us. Politically the General has been an unswerving adherent of democracy -- the democracy of Jackson and Douglas. Never seeking office, or condescending to the arts of the demigogue, or making his opinions offensive to those who differ from him, still he has been a tower of strength to his party. Having been a voter since 1808, he must remember the election of Jefferson and Burr -- doubtless voted for Madison and Clinton, for Monroe, Jackson, and Van Buren, besides a host of later if not lesser lights. Few indeed live to exercise this great right of freemen, the elective franchise, through such a term of years, and he stands before us to-day erect and venerable, without the shadow of a vice to darken his age, his faculties (with the single exception of the sense of hearing), all in full play, a remarkable instance of the poet's idea of "a green old age."

In 1846 he represented this district in the legislature, the only time so far as known to the writer he has ever accepted an office in this state, having devoted his attention to the quiet but lucrative pursuits of agriculture and trade. In faith, a Methodist, he was with his wife a member of the first "class" ever organized in the county, (which met in the log school house in the Essex settlement, often referred to on these pages), and the first organized in Wyoming met regularly at his house, where "circuit preaching" was also heard for years. In the fall of 1837, he donated one and a half acres of land for a parsonage, which was built by George Sparr the following year. In 1856, he also gave land, whereon to place the Methodist Episcopal church, which was built and dedicated the same year. The latter service being performed by Rev. J. W. Flowers, of Rock Island.

At a very early day General Thomas bequeathed to the public, grounds for the burial of the dead, which constitute the Wyoming cemetery still in use. Thus has he continued to testify from time to time his devotion to public interest, and the highest good of his fellow men. Wyoming is peculiarly the offspring of his enterprise and forecast. Founded and named by him in honor of his eastern home, he has always shared its fortunes with unwavering fidelity. While for many years the tide of prosperity ebbed, and others lost faith and sought better localities for business, he swerved not, but continued to invest his means in farms, mills, manufactures, anything that would aid in securing the future importance of the town. And it can but be a source of satisfaction to all right minded people, that he has lived to see his hopes realized to a large degree.

To see two railroads, bring commerce and wealth to its doors, depots, warehouses, mills, &c., all the elements of financial success springing up around him; a coal trade opened, second only in value to the agricultural products of the region it supplies. And now he naturally feels, at the age of eighty-eight, his life work is nearly done. For one who reared a large family to maturity, he will leave comparatively few descendants. Four grandsons, however, survive to transmit his name to future generations, while among the descendants of his eldest daughter, Mrs. Dennis, in California, it is reported there is a great-great-grandchild; know to the writer, however, are but two grand-daughters, Mrs. Marcia White of Castleton, and Mrs. Louisa McKenzie of Galesburg.

Many loved ones he has followed to the grave, indeed; he and his faithful friend and son-in-law, Rev. J. W. Agard, remain sole remnants of two kindred groups, still inhabiting the old home near Spoon river, endeared by the associations of more than forty years -- the general calmly awaiting the summons, "come up higher," for

"The curtain half lifted reveals to his sight

The windows that look on the kingdom of light,

That border the river of death."

Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson has made an excellent record as cashier of the Exchange Bank of Bradford and is recognized as a man of business acumen and sound judgment. His wife, Rosa L. Thompson, is president of the institution and owns all the stock. Mr. Thompson was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England, on the 18th of June, 1855, but when a child was brought by his parents to the United States, the family locating at Altoona, Pennsylvania. The father, who was an expert mechanic and engineer, died in 1875 when sixty-four years old. The mother passed away when sixty-eight years of age, in 1881.

Robert Thompson was educated in Altoona, and on beginning his independent career went to Newark, New Jersey, where he worked as a decorator, in which connection he did considerable frescoing. In 1876 he decided to try his fortune in the middle west and came to Stark county, Illinois, where he followed his trade for some time. Not long after his marriage to Miss Rosa L. Leet, in 1881, he accepted the cashiership of the Exchange Bank of Bradford, which position he has since held. He has given careful thought and study to the problems of banking and to local conditions, and as he is also thoroughly familiar with the routine of banking practice he is well qualified to discharge his responsible duties. The bank was formerly owned by his father-in-law, William Leet, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work, and Mrs. Thompson now owns all the stock of the institution and is serving as its president. Following the death of her father, the heirs at law formed a copartnership and Mrs. Thompson was given the control and supervision of the Bradford Exchange Bank, and in the management of its affairs has displayed the hard-headed business sense and the firmness of her father, and at the same time has sought to make the bank of the greatest possible service to the community. She takes a keen interest in the advancement of the public welfare, is broad-minded in her views and, moreover, possesses a personality that gains her the warm friendship of those closely associated with her. She owns other property and is one of the wealthiest women of the county.

Mr. Thompson and Rosa L. Leet were married on the 29th of December, 1881, and became the parents of two children: Claude R., who died on the 2d of November, 1915; and William Leet.

Mr. Thompson has taken an active part in public affairs and has been especially interested in the cause of education. He was serving on the school board at the time the new school building was erected; was made president of the building committee, and takes justifiable pride in the splendid building, which is conceded to be one of the best in the state, considering the size of Bradford. Both he and his wife are active and influential members of the Methodist church, whose work they further in every way possible. He also belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he is popular and is a member of Bradford Lodge, A.F. & A. M.; the Royal Arch chapter of Wyoming; the commandery of Kewanee; and the consistory and Mystic Shrine of Peoria. He has made many friends in all relations of life and is held in high respect by those who have come in contact with him.

[Stark County, Illinois and it's People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 50-51 – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

C. G. Thurston

C. G. Thurston, who was born upon the farm which he is now operating on section 33, Penn township, has proved very efficient as an agriculturist and stock raiser and has gained a gratifying measure of success. His natal day was the 17th of March, 1878, and he is a son of Daniel S. and Clarinda (McKinnis) Thurston. The father was born in Tioga county, New York, but became at early settler of Stark county, Illinois, where he developed a tract of raw prairie land into a highly improved farm. He died in this county presumably on the 17th of November, 1896. He was a democrat in politics and served as supervisor and school director. His wife, who was a native of Ohio, passed away in December, 1912 and both were buried in Pleasant Valley cemetery.

C. G. Thurston attended the common schools and was also a student in the high school at Wyoming, Illinois, thus receiving a thorough education. He has devoted his life to farming and now owns sixty-five acres of the old homestead and operates two hundred and forty acres. He is breeding Duroc-Jersey hogs in addition to raising the usual crops and both branches of his business are profitable. About eight years ago he became the local representative for the Oxweld Acetylene Company and in the intervening time he has installed a number of lighting plants in residences in his locality.

Mr. Thurston supports the republican party and is now filling the office of school director. He is a member of the Methodist Protestant church and fraternally is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America at Castleton and the Odd Fellows at Wyoming. He realizes that enterprise and progressiveness are necessary to succeed in farming as well as in other fields of activity and has based his success upon the sure foundation of industry and good judgment.

[Stark County, Illinois and it's People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 16-17 – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

Turnbull & Oliver Families

["Stark County and Its Pioneers" by Mrs. E. H. Shallenberger– Contributed by Karen Seeman]

Soon after we had concluded to sheaf these gleanings of local history into a volume for publication, we paid a visit to this most interesting neighborhood, with the intention of interviewing John Turnbull, sen., if possible, as he stands in the relation of patriarch to the clans of "Bonnie Scots" who till the broad acres stretching over almost a township. And if he had deliberatly "sat for his picture" he could not have taken a better position than he occupied that blustering October morning, 1874.

He had evidently just come in from looking after something on the farm, had taken his seat before a wide old-fashioned fireplace in which a cheerful fire was burning. His had of plaid, had not yet been laid aside, the latter enveloped his broad shoulders in those easy folds that none but a Scotchman can fashion. By his side and at his feet crouched two beautiful shepherd dogs, which sprang up all alert at the entrance of a stranger, but a word from their master subdued them, and as he rose and turned toward us a face fresh and florid yet, after the battles of near seventy winters, and eyes beaming with intelligence not unmixed with humor, we pronounced him a representative Scotchman from "top to toe."

Quickly recognizing the daughter of an old friend he greeted us cordially, and gratified us highly by giving in substance the following account of their emigration to America and subsequent experiences.

We believe these families, the Turnbulls and Olivers, of which particular mention will be made in this sketch, were of "Lowland" birth and lineage, although for sometime previous to their emigration, had dwelt in the "Highlands," following the occupation of shepherds.

The Turnbulls were from Roxburghshire, on the southern border of Scotland. And our informant sailed for America with his aged mother, his wife, and her father's family, June 17th, 1837; arriving at Quebec after six weeks at sea, journeyed up the St. Lawrence, then across the country to Niagara Falls, thence to Buffalo, found the only passenger boat at the wharf under arrest, so got on board an old schooner bound for Chicago. So slow was their progress that the packet, released from durance two weeks after they left port, passed them on the route. While wandering among the flats of lake St. Clair, the officers used to cut the huge canes or reeds with which they abounded, and used them for sounding rods, to determine the depth of water, which in some places was so shallow as to make navigation both difficult and dangerous. Sometimes as their sluggish craft crept by a low island, the men would wade ashore in quest of discoveries, and once they found a few potatoes growing and some vines, like nothing they had ever seen before, bearing gigantic fruit of which they longed to taste, their curiousity naturally being excited touching everything American.

As there was no sign of human habitation on the island, and their fare upon the schooner was very poor, the honest Scotchmen thought it could be no mortal sin to help themselves. So in addition to a few new potatoes, each man carried under his plaid an immense green pumpkin. Arriving with their booty on the deck of the boat, the emigrants quickly collected to try the flavor of the new fruit.

The scene must have been intensely amusing to the boat crew, who watched it out of the corners of their eyes and laughed most provokingly at the disappointment and disgust expressed by the emigrants at the upshot of their morning's adventure.

When at length Chicago was reached, they found it a low sandy flat, with here and there a cheap dwelling or warehouse, and thought the Americans must be very short of land on which to build towns, when they would attempt to make one on such a place as that. From Chicago they soon made their way to Joliet drawn thither by the tidings of a canal in process of construction, which would pretty certainly afford work for the men, of which they were sorely in need, for by this time their slender resources were about exhausted.

At Joliet they found two vacant cabins; the neighbors told them to "move right in," which they thankfully did. Everybody was kind to them, one man lent them a scythe which enabled them to cut the prairie grass growing so luxuriantly about them. This gave them clean beds, and with it they filled the crevices in their half-finished huts. Soon each family bought a cow from a drover who passed that way, and as they must be kept tied to a stake to prevent them straying hopelessly, the fresh cut hay was indispensible.

Of course these people were looking for land to enter, everybody was in those days, and they fell in with a Kentuckian named Parker, who had a patent on the quarter afterwards owned by Myrtle G. Brace, on the state road; but the man supposed his land lay near Wyoming, and so agreed with Mr. Turnbull to meet him there; "thought they could probably strike a trade."

Parker left Joliet on horseback, Mr. Turnbull on foot, to make their way over a trackless expanse of snow, and with but a very indefinite idea of where they were to meet, but it was to be somewhere in the neighborhood of Wyoming.

This journey was undertaken January 1st, 1838. Occasionally Mr. Turnbull could catch glimpses of the horseman as he rode over some high ridge in the distance, and this was all he had to guide his steps, save a general idea of the points of the compass. After this lonely, tiresome tramp of sixty or seventy weary miles, he found himself at the house of General Thomas, but only to learn that the land he was in quest of lay some ten or twelve miles to the north-west, the Kentuckian being mistaken as to its locality.

He must then retrace his steps. Upon reaching Mr. Holgate's, hunger and fatigue compelled him to seek rest and food, and such comforts were never denied a stranger there, and besides Mr. Holgate had learned by some means that Parker had gone to the Osceola settlement, so Mr. Turnbull was again upon his trail, and found him ere nightfall at the cabin of Mr. William Parks, then in Osceola grove, as old settlers will remember, not far from where the first school house in the township was built, on the road to Spoon river bridge.

While resting by the wide fire-place built of rough stones in the jambs of which a recess had been constructed, capable of holding a few common books, curiosity prompted the traveler to withdraw one from its place, that he might see what kind of books the people read in this strange country, still he was wondering all the time if it was not a piece of impertinence to do so without permission. But what was his surprise, his delight even, upon finding he held in his hands a well worn copy of Burns! Strong though he was, and capable of bearing all things without murmuring, still he could not refrain from tears as his eye traced the familiar Scottish lines, and he thought how far, far away he was from his native hills, from the "Banks and braes o' Bonnie Doon," yet the poetry of Burns was here before him! for

"The wide world is its empire

And its throne the heart of man."

Mr. Turnbull did not buy the title of the Kentuckian, after all his trouble, having a dread of patents, and complications of which he heard many sad reports; but shortly after purchased from the Lyle brothers, John and Thomas, forty acres in Osceola grove, with a cabin thereon, with the understanding that if the Oliver family saw fit to come on, the Lyles should sell them forty acres more.

He then trudged leisurely back to Joliet, got his wife and Andrew Oliver, rigged out an ox sled, to which they yoked a couple of half-broken steers, and about the middle of February started for Dorr's, whose house stood near where the town of Providence now is. The weather continued to grow colder, the wind to blow more and more fiercely, and glad were the wanderers to find shelter for the night, with the hospitable family referred to. In the morning the sun came up flanked by "dogs" on either side, the snow crunched and squeaked under the feet with the peculiar sound, every backwoodsman knows as indicative of extreme cold, the thermometer indicated some twenty degrees below zero. Mrs. Dorr clearly comprehending the suffering and danger that must attend a journey that day, kindly urged them to remain until the storm abated, saying "she would board them very cheaply." But they had no money to pay board bills be they ever so small, and the inborn price of their race, forbade their "being beholden" to any one, so there was but the other alternative to push ahead.

Mrs. Dorr was standing in her cabin door silently watching the preparations for departure going forward; but when all was ready, plaids folded tightly, Scotch caps tied firmly, sled drawn round to the door, steers awaiting the word of command to start, she exclaimed with tears n her eyes, "men go if you will but for God's sake leave this woman with me; she will surely perish in the cold to-day. It shall cost you nothing, and when the weather moderates you can return for her." But Mrs. Turnbull preferred at all hazards to share the fate of her husband and brother. We fancy such pluck would be hard to freeze; at any rate, despite all obstacles they arrived intact at Seeley's point before bed time, stiff and hungry doubtless, but such ills were curable by a good fire and supper, which were quickly at their disposal, and they retired to rest with grateful hearts.

The next morning was still very cold, but they had a sheltered route through the woods by the old road that formerly led by the house of Calvin Winslow in the timber, south of William Hall's place, which they passed about noon, February 14th, 1838. Soon after they reached home, as they called the cabin of the Lyle brothers a little farther on.

They promptly paid for the first forty acres, which contained the cabin, but as by arrangement the Lyles were to remain with them until they could obtain possession of the Dukes farm, which they had bought, and the rest of the Oliver family coming from Joliet, the four families consisting of eight Lyles and thirteen Turnbulls and Olivers, contrived to live till spring opened, in one room, and that one 16 x 18 feet. That they succeeded in doing this harmoniously, so that the survivors can now look back through the mists of nearly forty years, and make merry over the experiences of that first winter in Osceola, is creditable to all concerned.

Several of that original twenty-one, have passed to their Father's house above, "where the many mansions are," and others have so heartily obeyed a scriptural injunction recorded in Genesis, first chapter and twenty-eighth verse, that their posterity can be counted by scores, if not by hundreds. But we must recur for a few moments to the life that opened up before those pioneers in 1838 -- a life so full of hardships and privations that it would apall the hardiest adventurer now-a-days.

The money, veritable gold and silver, so carefully hoarded to buy a home, was now expended. They had among them eighty acres of timber land, a cabin, and but little else. They had neither vegetables, meat nor bread, except corn which had to stand in lieu of all these. For weeks they split rails all day long, with no food save boiled corn, which they carried with them in a tin pail, and for drink they broke the ice of a little stream and dipped up the water from beneath. At night the old black cow supplied them milk to eat with their corn, and this was their best meal, for as Mr. Turnbull says, they then had time to eat all they wanted, a luxury they did not allow themselves at morning or noon, for as he quietly remarked "it took a man so long to eat corn enough to satisfy his appetite," and they must work; that they retained health and strength to do so on such far, is probably owing to the fact they from childhood they had been accustomed to a coarse or plain diet. Military men recognize this as one reason why the Scotch make the best campaigners in the world, they say while soldiers addicted to the pleasures of the table, pine away and die, under seige or on protracted marches, the hardy Scot with his bag of oat meal and canteen of water, thrives and is contented.

But our Scotchmen had not even the oat meal, and corn and cold water did not make such a nutritious compound.

But spring, though delaying long as is her wont with us, came at last, and seeds were sown in hope, and summer gave them of her abundance, and they were thankful.

In the fall they bought a hog from the Sturms, and when a rasher of bacon was added to their hominy, thought themselves well off. Such was the humble beginning of the famous


It was soon a magnet that drew many an emigrant from "the land o' cakes" to try his fortunes on the prairies, but it can hardly be supposed any met with quite the hardships that faced the first comers. Their neighborhood has always been remarkable for its thrift and independence in thought and action, for its simple old-fashioned morality and religious observances, and latterly for its wealth, culture and liberality.

We hoped to lay before our readers exact facts and figures, statistics to prove what these people have accomplished in less than forty years, but among those so sensitive with regard to what might be called "blowing their own trumpet," these are very difficult to obtain, thus we have to unwillingly betake ourselves to generalities. But although there has been from the first a number of American families located among them, yet the history of Elmira township is really the history of these Scotch people. To them mainly belong its farms, its schools and its churches. In our general history of the religious organizations of Stark county, it will be seen that the Turnbull and Oliver families formed an important element in the first Presbyterian church formed here which was at Osceola grove, in 1839. After their removal to their prairie farms west of Spoon river, this organization gradually fell into decay, but in their new location sprang up in the course of a few years four churches, all having convenient houses of worship. These are the Methodist Episcopal, (which is probably supported by Americans) Cumberland Presbyterian, United Presbyterian, and Knox church, all of Elmira. If we are correctly informed, the last three are principally Scotch. And although one can hardly believe the old feud between highlanders and lowlanders to have crossed the Atlantic and established itself on our levels, yet the difference in the names on these church rolls is noticeably curious, and would indicated that the currents of feeling still choose separate channels. In the United Presbyterian, you find the "Borderer" the lowland names. Here are the Turnbulls, the Olivers, the Murrays, the Grieves and the Armstrongs over and over again. But turn to Knox church and you get names with the highland ring McDonald, McRae, Murchison, Finlayson and McLennan. And this is said to be the only place in the United States where religious worship is conducted in the Gaelic language.

Here they still sing the Psalms of David as their fathers sang them among their native hills, and listen to services of three or four hours duration, without growing weary.

In the early history of our county the politics of this settlement was decidedly anti-abolition. Frazer, a Presbyterian minister of pro-slavery proclivities, from Knox county, used to preach among the Scotch a good deal, and many thought he gave them this bias; however that might be they early ranked as whigs, and "Henderson men," which meant about the same thing in the phraseology of those days. But our supplementary tables will show they have been wont to roll up big republican majorities of late years, supporting Lincoln, and the emancipation proclamation en masse. They seem always to have had a liking for the name of Henderson, which liking has been transmitted from generation to generation, with the name -- supporting T. J Henderson in 1864-66 as enthusiastically as in 1839 or 1840, they had his father. This political faith seems to have been shared by their native born neighbors, as the names of Myrtle G. Brace and numerous members of the Fuller family, are usually seen side by side with that of John Turnbull in the political proceedings of by-gone years.

And when their patriotism had to be tried by the terrible ordeal of battle, they did not shrink from duty; witness the fine array of names in our soldier's record, credited to Elmira township. We know we are unprepared to do justice to this quiet nook, and to the strong characters that compose the bulk of its citizens. If through imperfect knowledge we have erred in statement, we beg pardon in advance, and will only add in conclusion, that a stranger visiting our county, will nowhere within its limits, find a warmer welcome, or gain more favorable immpressions of its resources than in this Scotch settlement in Elmira township.

Edwin Turnbull

A student of history cannot carry his investigations far into the annals of Stark county without learning of the close connection of the Turnbull family with the records of this part of the state, for from pioneer times to the present representatives of the name have been closely associated with the agricultural development and progress which have brought Stark and adjoining counties to their present condition of development and prosperity. Edwin Turnbull, now successfully engaged in general farming on section 6, Elmira township, was born upon this place, January 30, 1873, his parents being William and Catherine (McClennan) Turnbull, both of whom were natives of Scotland. The father, when but ten years of age, came to the United States with his father. He had begun his education in the schools of Scotland and some time after coming to the new world he began farming in Elmira township, Stark county, Illinois, establishing his home on section 16, where he continued to reside until called to his final rest in March, 1900. His entire life was devoted to general agricultural pursuits, and he was regarded as one of the worthy and highly respected farmers of his locality. His widow survived him until 1906 and was laid by his side in the Elmira cemetery.

Edwin Turnbull was educated in the schools of Elmira and in the academy at Toulon, while his practical training along business lines was received under the direction of his father upon the home farm. He learned every phase of farm work and was thus able to assume the management of the home place, which he is carefully and systematically cultivating. In this undertaking he is associated with his brother David, and together with their sister Mary they are owners of four hundred acres, constituting one of the valuable and attractive farms of Elmira township. They carry on general farming and also engage quite extensively in feeding stock. They have put many of the improvements upon the farm and utilize the best machinery to facilitate the work of the fields and care for the harvest. The brother David was also born upon this place, and both brothers are regarded as representative agriculturists and enterprising young business men of the county.

Edwin Turnbull is a member of the United Presbyterian church, and his life is guided by its teachings. His political support is unfalteringly given to the republican party and for one term his brother David served as county supervisor, making an excellent record in the office. Having always lived in this district, they are widely known, and the substantial traits of character which they have displayed have won for them enviable positions in the regard of their fellow citizens.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 239-240. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

George M. Turnbull

The name Turnbull has ever been a synonym in Stark county for progressiveness in business and for progressiveness in business and for loyalty in citizenship, and the family has been represented in this part of the state from the pioneer era. George M. Turnbull was born January 15, 1867, at the second house south of his present home, which is situated on section 16, Elmira township. The family was established in Illinois by his grandfather, a native of Roxburyshire, Scotland, who on coming to the new world brought with him his family, including William Turnbull, the father of George M. William Turnbull was partially reared in Stark county. His birth had occurred in Roxburyshire, Scotland, but in his youthful days he came with his parents to the United States and completed his education in the schools of this district. He afterward located just north of the farm of George M. Turnbull and there resided until his death, which occurred about sixteen years ago, his attention throughout the entire period being given to agricultural pursuits. His widow survived him for about six years and then she too passed away.

A common school education fitted George M. Turnbull for the active and practical duties of life, together with the training which he received upon the home farm. He continued on the old homestead until he attained his majority. He first purchased land near Galva, Illinois, on which he lived for seven years and then came to his present place, which is situated on section 16, Elmira township. He now owns two hundred acres of land in this tract, and upon it he has placed good improvements. He also owns one hundred and sixty acres of land at Watton, North Dakota. Upon his Stark county farm he is engaged quite extensively in feeding hogs and sheep, this being an important branch of his business.

On the 30th of April, 1892, Mr. Turnbull was united in marriage to Miss Mary McKenzie, a native of Scotland, and they became the parents of four children: Catherine B., now of Nebraska; William E., at home; Clarence, who is a school teacher in Elmira; and Mary I., attending school in Toulon. The wife and mother passed away in 1900. She was a devoted member of the Presbyterian church, to which Mr. Turnbull belongs. For twelve or fifteen years he has served as school director and is greatly interested in the advancement of the cause of education. In politics he has been an earnest republican since age conferred upon him the right of franchise.

[Stark County, Illinois and its People: A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement, published 1916, p. 223-224. – Contributed by Karen Seeman]

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