Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
This gentleman is of English ancestry. The first representatives of the Underwood family in this country settled in Lexington, Mass. The records in possession of our subject take him back to his great-great-grandfather, also named Israel, who was a native of Massachusetts, and with his son, Israel, served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The latter after the war closed located at Holden, Mass., where he married, and became the father of a family, among whom was Eber, the father of our subject. The latter was born in Hubbardstown, where he grew to manhood on the farm of his father, who was one of the earliest settlers of that region, to which he had moved soon after his marriage, accompanied by his bride. Upon this trip, which was made in the winter, the snow was so deep they could not get through with the team but walked on snow-shoes the entire distance. There Israel Underwood, Sr., remained until his death. He married Miss Dinah Baker, of Westminster, Mass., and purchased a tract of timber land two miles from the old homestead, where he cleared a farm and spent the balance of his life, dying in 1867 at the age of seventy-three years. The mother survived her husband but three months and then also passed to her long home. Of the seven children but two are now living, our subject and his brother Calvin. The latter is a resident of Worcester, Mass.
Israel Underwood of this sketch has in his possession the old family Bible which has been preserved by the Underwood's for upward of 200 years. From this book we learn that his birth took place in Hubbardstown, Worcester Co., Mass., June 19, 1826. He was the fifth child of his father's family and attended school quite steadily from the time he was six until he was ten years old, and afterward pursued his studies a few weeks of each winter until fifteen. He then commenced life as a teamster, going with a four-horse team from Hubbardstown to Boston, transporting merchandise to and fro for six years thereafter. After reaching his majority he opened a restaurant and boardinghouse in Worcester, and at the same time employed his leisure hours at the shoemaker's trade, which he followed four years. He then engaged in the livery and hotel business at Templeton, Mass., until 1855.
Underwood had now resolved to make a decided change, and believing that the West would provide for him something better than he had known in New England, he started out in January of the year mentioned and coming to this county established himself in Freeport, where he was occupied a year in the hotel business, and then removed to Lena. Here he commenced buying stock for the firm of Giddings & Wilson, and in the years thus engaged accumulated a small capital and determined to start in business for himself. He commenced buying cattle for the St. Paul, Chicago and Eastern markets, and put upon the rails the first carload of stock ever transported from Lena. His operations gradually extended, and in 1861 he became the partner of J. T. Soles, and commenced buying horses. The two continued together until the spring of 1863, when Mr. Soles retired and our subject has conducted the business alone since that time. He now ships annually from 300 to 500 head of horses, and in 1866 shipped 800 head to Boston and other Eastern markets. He has displayed excellent judgment and forethought in the management of this business, and the results have been highly satisfactory to him and to those with whom he has had dealings. His career illustrates in a forcible manner the results of perseverance. Mr. Underwood commenced with comparatively nothing and may now be ranked among the capitalists of Stephenson County. His marriage with Miss Caroline Balcom took place in Ticonderoga, N. Y., in September, 1854. Mrs. U. was born in Hague, Warren Co., N. Y., and was the daughter of John and Cynthia (Densmore) Balcom. She survived her marriage only two years, dying in March, 1856, after becoming the mother of two children, viz.: Lillie, now the wife of Dr. Lathrop, of Pecatonica, and Charles R., of Chicago. In 1860, Mr. Underwood was married the second time, to Miss Martha Balcom, the sister of his first wife. Their father, a native of Massachusetts, was the son of Isaac Balcom, also of the Bay State, who removed to New York about 1810, being among the first settlers of Hague. He went there while the land was mostly covered with timber, and cutting the trees away opened up a farm which he occupied until his death. The father of Mrs. U. learned the trade of a carpenter, which he followed all his life. He spent his last years in Ticonderoga, where his death took place about 1852. The mother, a native of New Hampshire, died while the family were residents of Hague. Mr. and Mrs. Underwood are pleasantly located, and occupy a dwelling which forms one of the attractive features of the town, and a view of which is given elsewhere in this album. It is the resort of the cultured people of Lena, and is at once recognized as the home of intelligence and refinement, whose inmates enjoy all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. [Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Ill. (1888), p. 428]
CHARLES VAN BROCKLIN
A spirit of progress and enterprise at all times characterizes the labors and business activity of Charles C. Van Brocklin, who is now well known as a real estate dealer of Freeport and resides at No. 167 Clark avenue. He is one of the native sons of Stephenson county, his birth having occurred in Florence township, March 24, 1863. His paternal grandfather, Conrad Van Brocklin, was a native of New York and a farmer by occupation. Believing that better opportunities were offered in the middle west, he came to Illinois about 18?? (illegible) and cast his lot with the early settlers of Florence township, Stephenson county, where he continued to make his home until his death, which occurred in 1878, when he had reach an advanced age. He married Harriet Searles, by whom he had three sons and four daughters, namely: Phoebe, Julia, William A., Sarah, James, Celia and Henry Orville. William A. Van Brocklin, the father of our subject, was also a native of the Empire state but in his early childhood was brought to Illinois by his parents and was reared in Stephenson county, sharing with the family in the hardships and privations as well as in the privileges and pleasures of pioneer life. His early education, acquired in the district schools, was supplemented by study in Beloit College. He engaged successfully in teaching school for a number of years but afterward turned his attention to the grocery business, capably and profitably conducting a store for a number of years. He was also the owner of one hundred and sixty acres of land in Florence township and while teaching school and managing his commercial interests he also operated his farm. After retiring from the grocery store he turned his attention to the live-stock business in Texas county, Missouri, and was murdered there for his money in 1873, when but thirty-six years of age. In early manhood he had wedded Angelia Wright, also a native of New York and a daughter of Dr. Charles Bingley Wright, likewise a native of the Empire state. He was a physician and became one of the early representatives of the medical fraternity in Freeport, where he practiced successfully for many years. He also served as a surgeon with the Union army in the Civil war. He married Augusta Minerva Sheppard and died at the age of sixty-eight years, while his wife still survives at the age of eighty-seven years. They were the parents of three children, two of whom died in childhood, while the other was Mrs. Angelia Van Brocklin, who long survived her husband and passed away in 1903 at the age of sixty years. Both were devoted members of the Methodist church. After losing her first husband she became the wife of Jacob Higley. By her former marriage she had four children, as follows: Charles C., of this review, Edith A., the wife of C. A. Alden, of Fulton, Illinois; Frank W., residing in Freeport; and Rozella A., the wife of E. J. Higley, of Hoffman, Minnesota.
Charles C. Van Brocklin was reared in this county and attended the district and city schools. He afterward studied medicine under the direction of his grandfather and also learned the machinist's trade, which he followed for several years. He afterward turned his attention to the real-estate business in which he has since continued and as the years have gone by he has secured an extensive clientage and has negotiated many important property transfers. He owns farm lands in Wisconsin, Missouri and Oklahoma and opened up the west end addition to Freeport.
On the 15th of November, 1905, Mr. Van Brocklin was married to Miss May Belle Oberholser, who was born in the town of Flora, Illinois, a daughter of Henry W. and Mary Margaret (Grayam) Oberholser. Her paternal grandfather was John Oberholser, a native of New York and a carpenter by trade. He lived to be ninety-three years of age. He married a Miss Wylan and their family included Nancy, Ida, Sue, Elizabeth, John, Chris and Henry Oberholser. The maternal grandparents of Mrs. Van Brocklin were John and Catharine (Bixler) Grayam. The former was a carpenter and lived to be nearly seventy-three years of age, while his wife died when sixty years of age. The parents of Mrs. Van Brocklin were also natives of the Empire state and became early settlers of Boone county, Illinois. Her father died in Belvidere in 1899, at the age of seventy-three years, while his wife was called to her final rest in the fall of 1904 at the age of sixty-two years. They were the parents of six children, three of whom are living, namely: John Grayam Oberholser, of Belvidere; Helen Marie, the wife of John J. Wilson, of Alberta, Canada; and Mrs. Van Brocklin. Mr. and Mrs. Van Brocklin occupy a pleasant home which he erected twenty-one years ago. He is a member of the Methodist church and his wife of the Baptist church. Fraternally he is connected with the Masons, holding membership in Excelsior Lodge, No. 97, A. F. & A. M., while politically he is a republican. His life has been well and worthily spent and many substantial qualities have gained for him the high regard and unfaltering friendship of a large majority of those with whom he has come in contact. [Contributed by Karen Hammer (Genealogy Trails host) from The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, 1910 Vol I & II Pg 134]
HENRY O. VAN BROCKLIN
With most persons it is a pleasant matter to trace the genealogy of their family, not only for the credit it may reflect, but for the pleasure afforded by knowing the good qualities of the stock from which they spring. This is peculiarly applicable to the subject of this sketch, whose parents were Conrad and Harriet (Searl) Van Brocklin. The former was born in Montgomery County, N.Y. and the latter in Massachusetts. Having resided for a short time in Lewis County, N.Y., they concluded to endure the dangers and privations of life in the West at that period, and in 1835 came to Stephenson County, and settled in what is now Florence Twp. In the territory now defined by the township boundary lines he was the first settler, and the first soil broken in that township was by him. He continued to live there until Nov. 3, 1877, when he went to his reward. The vicinity in which he lived still goes by his name, also the church nearby is called the Van Brocklin Church. He took an active interest in the erection of the Soldiers' Monument at Freeport contributing both time and money in its interest. His aged partner still survives and lives in Florence Township. She is now in her 84th year and enjoys fairly good health. She tells many pleasant stories of pioneer experiences worth of relating. The Indians were frequent visitors at their home and night was often rendered hideous by the howling of wolves. The family of this good couple consisted of eight children, two of whom are deceased, Marcellus, the eldest, and William A., the fourth in the order of birth. Those surviving are Julia, Phoebe C., Lucy A., Sarah M., James M. and Henry O., the latter the subject of this sketch. He has resided in Florence Twp. since Feb. 24, 1846. Although the school facilities of those primitive days were very meager, yet by availing himself of all the opportunities offered he became proficient enough to teach several terms of school himself. With the exception of the time employed in the capacity of teacher he had devoted his time to farming. When his father died he became sole manager of the old homestead, which consisted of 375 acres, 300 of which were under cultivation.
Mr. Van Brocklin was married in Greene County, N.Y. on the 5th of June, 1871 to Miss Mary D. Woolheiser, daughter of Emanuel and Amanda (Crosby) Woolheiser. The latter was related to the noted Revolutionary spy, Enoch Crosby. Mrs. Van Brocklin's birthplace was in Middletown, Delaware Co., N.Y. where she first saw the light of day on the 20th of November 1839. To them five children have been born, two of whom died in infancy. The three living are Inez H., Ivy A., and Arthur C. In politics Mr. Van Brocklin is and has been a Republican, and has been rewarded by his party and the people with several of the more important offices of his township, and in the discharge of the duties of these trusts no word of complaint has ever been uttered. Mr. and Mrs. Van Brocklin are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. [Contributed by Al Morgan / Transcribed by Christine Walters from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Illinois Chicago; Chapman Brothers, 1888 Pg. 717
JOHN A. VAN EP
John A. Van Ep, one of the earliest settlers of Stephenson County, arrived here in the spring of 1838, and proved to be of that stanch material required to assist in the settlement of a new and undeveloped section of county. He built up a good record, one which his descendants may be proud to look upon, and contributed his full quota toward establishing the reputation of this county and its standing among other communities of the Prairie State. Mr. Van Ep was born in Glenville, Schenectady Co., N. Y., Dec. 24, 1813. His father, Albert Van Ep, was also a native of that county, where he spent his entire life. The family originally came from Holland and located in New York during its early settlement, being numbered among its most substantial residents. John, of our sketch, was reared on the old homestead where he remained until twenty-five years of age, and then resolved to investigate this part of the great West. The trip was made overland to Buffalo, thence via the lake to Toledo, and from that point he proceeded by teams to within a few miles of his present homestead. He purchased one-half of section 23, Waddams Township, which he occupied eighteen months, and then on account of the scarcity of water disposed of it and purchased his present farm, which under skillful cultivation has become one of the most valuable in Stephenson County.
Mr. Van Ep, in common with his brother pioneers, experienced the disadvantages attending transportation to a distant market by horse and ox teams, the farmers being obliged to carry their produce to Galena forty-five miles distant. He occupied, with his family, a log cabin the first five years, and when his circumstances improved sufficiently to warrant the erection of a frame dwelling the lumber and building material were laboriously transported from Galena. The house when completed was considered quite a stylish structure, and was the admiration of the country around as giving evidence of the thrift and enterprise of the proprietor. Mr. Van Ep, soon after coming here, became prominent in local affairs, officiating as Town Supervisor, Town Clerk, Assessor and School Director. He commenced duty in this line soon after the act was passed which established the free school system thirty years ago, and there have been few enterprises connected with the general welfare of his community in which he has not occupied a leading position. The marriage of our subject with Miss Christiana Haverly took place in Glenville, N. Y., in the spring of 1835. This lady was born and reared in the same county as her husband, and is the daughter of Christian and Susan Haverly, who were numbered among the early pioneers of New York State, their first settlement being near the city of Albany. Her grandfather served on the side of the Colonists in the Revolutionary War, and made for himself an enviable record among its brave men. Of her union with our subject there are three children - Albert, Haverly and James. The first two mentioned are residents of Waddams Township, and James is prominently connected with the stock-raising interests of Webster County, Iowa, where he is also conducting a large mercantile business in the city of Moorland. [Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Ill. (1888), p. 378]
ARCHIBALD VAN HORN
Archibald K. Van Horn, M. D., a successful practicing physician at Yellow Creek, in the southwestern part of Loran Township, is the son of Robert and Catherine (Coon) Van Horn, natives respectively of Athens, Ohio, and Plum Creek, Pa. The parents after their marriage commenced life together on a farm near Athens, where they resided a few years and then removed to Northfield, in that State, where they still remain and where the father, although quite well advanced in years, is still conducting the operations of his farm. The parental household included our subject, who was the eldest, a sister, Jennie, now a widow residing in Northfield, Ohio, and a younger brother, Andrew M., who is engaged in farming at Northfield. The birth of our subject took place Dec. 7, 1833, after the removal of the family to Northfield. He there spent the years of his early childhood, and pursued his first studies in the district school. When about eleven years of age he was placed in a select school where he continued his studies until sixteen. He was then sent East to Pennsylvania, entering Westminister College, at Lincoln, and in a three years' course added greatly to his already generous fund of knowledge. He now decided to seek his fortune in the Western country and accordingly, in 1857, came to this State, locating first at Paris, Edgar County. He there engaged in teaching about eight months and thence removed to Tazewell County, where he was similarly employed two years. His next remove was to Rock Run Township, this county, where he taught school two summers, and soon afterward took up the study of medicine. Later he attended lectures at Chicago, and subsequently entered the office of Dr. G. V. Ewing, of Rock Run, under whose instruction he remained two years and was then considered competent to enter upon the practice of his chosen profession. For this purpose he located first at Baileyville, where he was a resident eighteen months, and whence he removed, in the fall of 1863, to Yellow Creek, where he has since remained. While a resident of Baileyville, Dr. Van Horn was united in marriage, at White Pigeon, Mich., Feb. 20, 1861, with Miss Emma V., daughter of George and Anna (Hill) Snyder. The parents of Mrs. Van H. were natives of Pennsylvania, whence they emigrated to Illinois about 1870, and are now living in Freeport. Their family included eight children, two sons and six daughters, all of whom lived to become men and women. The wife of our subject was the fourth in order of birth, and first drew breath in Centre County, Pa., Feb. 10, 1838. She received a fair education in the common schools and remained with her parents until her marriage. The two children born of this union are Linnie K., wife of D. W. Bettz, a prosperous farmer of Loran Township, and Saddie, still at home with her parents. Upon the twenty-fifth anniversary of their marriage a large number of the friends of Mr. and Mrs. Van Horn assembled at their residence to celebrate their silver wedding. The modest little home entertained about seventy-five guests, and the host and hostess were made the recipients of two elegant easy chairs, one for each. The leading spirits on this interesting occasion were Miss Sadie Goodrich and Mrs. G. S. Kleckner. The table groaned under its weight of good things, and the jests and toasts which followed were made the subject of pleasant comment for many a day. The Doctor and his wife are greatly esteemed by the cultivated people of their community and have always moved in the best circle. The Doctor has always taken a warm interest in township and town affairs, and besides the duties of his profession, has officiated as Justice of the Peace and Township Clerk. Both he and his estimable lady are prominently identified with the Methodist Episcopal Church and are numbered among its most cheerful and liberal givers. The Doctor was licensed as a local preacher in 1886, but his diffidence has prevented him from filling the pulpit except when urged to do so. [Contributed by Carole Parrish from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Ill. 1888]
GEORGE M. VAN MATRE
George M. Van Matre, of Oneco Township, was born at the home of his father on section 28, in this township, June 18, 1862. He is consequently a young man, and just entering upon the grave responsibilities of life, being married and the head of a family, for whom there is ample reason to suppose he is in a condition to provide comfortably, and maintain his and their position among the leading residents of this section. Upon his marriage, in 1884, he located on section 28, where he proposes to continue the pursuit of agriculture, in which he has been bred from his boyhood. He is a gentleman of fair education, having enjoyed the advantages of the district school, and is disposed to keep his eyes open to what is going on around him. Our subject is the son of Joseph N. Van Matre, whose father, also named Joseph, was a native of Ohio. The former was born in Clinton County, Ohio, in 1836, and three years later the family migrated westward, locating in Oneco Township, this county. Joseph, Jr., remained under the home roof, assisting his parents until reaching his majority, but soon after his marriage began farming on rented land, and thus operated for a number of years. His death took place at his home in Oneco Township, July 28, 1878, while he was still comparatively a young man. The mother of our subject, in her girlhood was Miss Elizabeth Trotter, a native of Kentucky, and the daughter of George Trotter, who emigrated from the Blue Grass region to this county in 1836, when his daughter Elizabeth was a babe six months old. The parental family of our subject included four children, of whom two are now living.
George M. when twenty-three years of age, was united in marriage with Miss Ella, daughter of Sylvester A. Dorn, who was born May 27, 1864, and whose father, a native of New York, is now a resident of Orangeville. After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Van M. began life together in a modest dwelling situated in Oneco Township. They have one child, a son, Glenn D., born May 31, 1885. The mother of Mrs. Van M. was of Irish birth and parentage, and her father was a native of New York. The former died in 1874, and the latter is still living in Orangeville. The paternal grandfather of our subject crossed the plains to California about the time of the gold excitement on the Pacific Slope. He was finally lost sight of, and his son Joseph N., the father of our subject, when but a youth, was left in charge of the homestead, and the care of the family who were then residents of Oneco Township, and there he remained until assuming domestic ties of his own. [Contributed by Karen Hammer from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Illinois Chicago; Chapman Brothers, 1888 pg. 391]
JOSEPH W. VAN MATRE
Joseph W. Van Matre is one of the well-known family of that name, whose biographical sketches appear so numerously in the history of this county. He is the son of L. D. Van Matre, and was born Oct. 8, 1838, in the township in which he at present resides. He lived with his parents until twenty years of age, helped till the farm, attended the district school, and obtained his education by observation, and by reading good books and papers. In the spring of 1859, carried away by a spirit of restlessness he started for Pike's Peak, but only reached Ft. Des Moines, Iowa. Remaining there for awhile, he returned to this State, and worked by the day until the spring of 1860. He then entered the store of Squire Hartsough, where he was employed as a merchant's clerk for one year. After severing his connection with Mr. Hartsough our subject farmed one year on his father's place and then moved to the property across the road, where he rented a farm and stayed until the spring of 1865. During this year he enlisted in the 46th Illinois Regiment, but the war was at an end, and the Government not needing his services he returned home, and after a year of doing odd jobs moved on the farm which he now occupies. He bought at first one-half of his farm, and several years later purchased the remainder, now owning all together 182 acres of land, all under cultivation except ten acres, which are in timber. Mr. Van Matre has filled some of the local offices of the township, and politically, is a Democrat. He was married on his birthday anniversary, Oct. 8, 1858, to Miss Sarah Williams, daughter of George Williams, a native of New York. This lady died in the second year of her marriage, soon after the birth of her only child, George W., who is now living in New York City. He was married for the second time in 1860, to Samantha J. Arledge, daughter of William Arledge, a native of Ohio. Mrs. Van Matre was born in Highland County, Ohio, Aug. 19, 1843. Her father had been a teacher all his life, mostly in district and village schools. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Van Matre are: Dora B., who has become Mrs. Bowen; Lewis D.; Thomas J., who died Sept. 10, 1887; Emma R., Fred N. and Joseph C., who all reside at home. The family belong to the Christian Church. It is a fine home where the family live, as appears from the excellent lithographic view elsewhere given, and it is endeared to them by many ties of tender interest and memory. Mr. Van Matre and family are highly respected in the community where they reside. [Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Ill. (1888), p. 657
MORGAN VAN MATRE
As the sad fact is often called to mind that scores of the old settlers arc fast passing away, it is but natural that those who have watched their careers with such interest should look upon the future with something of anxiety, as to the men who are arising to take their places. Whether these places shall be worthily tilled is a problem which the future will develop. The pioneers, however, almost without exception, trained their offspring to habits of industry and economy so that when their mantle should be cast aside it might still rest upon worthy shoulders. These thoughts invariably obtrude when noticing the first efforts of a young man as he takes possession of his father's homestead with the design of making it his permanent abiding-place. The subject of this history is one of the young men of Oneco Township who not long ago took possession of the farm built up by his father from the wilderness, during the early settlement of this locality, and the main points of his career (during the brief thirty years of his existence are substantially as follows: Mr. Van Matre was born in the house which he now occupies on section 30, in Oneco Township, Feb. 23, 1856. He is the son of Morgan and Luanna Van Matre, and the brother of William J., whose sketch will be found elsewhere in this work. His youth and boyhood were spent in the care-free manner incident to life in the country, roaming the woods and fields in leisure hours and at other times making himself useful to his parents and improving the seasons of study in the district school. He was bright and ambitious, and in early life developed as a teacher, which occupation he followed for a time and then decided to settle down to farming pursuits. In 1883 he purchased the homestead, which included 100 acres of land, mostly under cultivation and provided with suitable farm buildings. The stock and machinery were mostly included in the purchase and he was consequently equipped with little trouble and light expense for the duties which lay before him. About this time, March 22, 1881, when twenty-five years of age, he was united in marriage with Miss Rebecca Rahorn, a sketch of whose uncle, Conrad Rahorn, is published elsewhere in this work. Mrs. Van Matre is a native of Stephenson County, and was born March 12,1857. During the period of six years which has elapsed the young people have become fully established in their home and have surrounded themselves with all the comforts of modern life, while they enjoy the respect of a large circle of friends and acquaintance. Mrs. Van Matre belongs to the Evangelical Church, and our subject is considered one of the important factors in a community made up of intelligence and enterprise. His farming operations have been conducted with success and he ranks among the peaceful and law-abiding citizens of his township. He keeps abreast of the various questions of the day and uniformly casts his vote with the Democratic party. [Contributed by Karen Hammer from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Illinois Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1888 pg 544
THOMAS JEFFERSON VAN MATRE
One of the oldest and longest cultivated farms in Oneco Township, and one which has been kept in the family by succession from the time it was taken as a claim up to date, is the one on which Mr. Van Matre now resides. This gentleman was born on the 16th of February, 1834, at Scales Mound, Jo Daviess Co., Ill. He is the son of Lewis V. Van Matre, who was the son of Morgan Van Matre, of Holland, who came to this country when a young man. The father of our subject was born in Ohio, in 1807, on a farm. His father died when he was a boy, and his mother marrying again he remained at home with her until he was twenty years of age, when lie came West and secured employment in the lead mines at Galena. He remained there for nine years, farming and mining alternately. During the Indian war which occurred at that period, he was a soldier in the service of the Government. In April, 1836, he moved to Oneco Township, and paid $100 for a claim of 150 acres of land, on which the subject of this sketch now lives. He built a log cabin, commenced tilling the soil, and lived there twenty years, until his death at the age of seventy-nine. The first trip he made from Cincinnati to Galena was by river and the return was made on horseback, in 1837. On Jan. 13, 1831, he was married to Nancy Alexander, whose father was a Scotchman, and lived in Kentucky. Our subject's father had fourteen children, and left 347 acres of land in Oneco Township, as well as valuable property in the town, where he lived sixteen years as a retired farmer. He erected the first barn in this county, which is still standing. The subject of this sketch gained his limited education in the district school one and a half miles distant from his home, and has always followed the vocation of farming. On the 7th of April, 1855, he was married to Mary Ann French, daughter of Samuel French. Her mother was Catherine Smith, a daughter of Daniel Smith, a native of North Carolina, who was born in 1785, and grew to manhood there with his parents. He learned the trade of a blacksmith, but was a farmer the greater portion of his life. He was married there to Miss Dorcas McDaniels, and moved to Ohio some years after, locating in Highland County. In 1846 he moved to Oneco Township and settled near the Wisconsin line, where he lived about seven years. He then moved to Oneco and lived on a rented farm two years, from which he removed to the McConnell farm and remained there until his wife died, in August, 1858. He then lived with the father-in-law of the subject of this sketch until June, 1885; then one of his sons took him and cared for him until December, 1886, when he was taken to Alfred Smith's, where he remained until death. At the time of his death he was one hundred and two years of age, and strange to say retained his faculties until the last hour. Mr. and Mrs. Van Matre have had two children: Nancy Florida died June 28, 1858; Charles E., born Jan. 17, 1856, is married and lives nearby. Mr. Van Matre is a Democrat, and holds the office of School Director, which office his father held before him. It affords us gratification to present in this connection an excellent portrait of Mr. Van Matre, as that of a highly esteemed citizen of Oneco Township, and one of the old settlers of Stephenson County. [Contributed by Karen Hammer from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Illinois Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1888 pg 639]
WILLIAM J. VAN MATRE
William J. Van Matre, of Winslow Township, is a gentleman in the prime of life, and continues a resident of the county of his birth, which occurred in Oneco, May 8, 1840. His parents, Morgan and Luanna Van Matre, were natives respectively of Ohio and New York. They were married when the father of our subject was twenty-two years of age. Soon afterward they set out for the West, journeying after the fashion of the emigrants of those days, overland with teams, arriving in this county in the month of July, 1828. They remained but a year, however, this time, and then returned to Ohio to complete arrangements for a residence later in the Prairie State. When starting out again for the West they were accompanied by the family of the elder Van Matre, and pitched their tent first in Oneco Township. This was in 1829. They entered a claim, put up a log cabin, and commenced to clear the farm, utilizing for this purpose the four horses which had conveyed them across the country. Two poles were laid down to indicate the extent and location of the claim, and upon a part of this the city of Freeport now stands. The nearest market was at the lead mines around the embryo city of Galena, the transportation being effected by horse and ox teams. Our subject was a lad ten years of age when the Illinois Central Railroad was completed to Freeport, and still recollects with what childish wonder he viewed the iron horse and its attendant train. He departed this life when sixty-six years of age, and while still active and in the midst of his farming operations. The parental household included thirteen children, one by the first wife and twelve by the second. The latter was formerly Miss Luanna Denio, who was of New England parentage and born in New York. Her parents emigrated to this county in the pioneer days, and were among its first settlers, taking up their abode in Oneco Township. The mother of our subject was born in 1823, and became the second wife of Morgan Van Matre in 1838, their marriage taking place in Oneco Township, this county. She departed this life at her home in Oneco Township in 1883, mourned by a large circle of friends and acquaintances. The subject of this biography spent his childhood and youth after the manner of most farmers' boys, receiving a fair education in the district schools, and becoming familiar with all the employments of country life. When twenty-five years of age he was united in marriage with Miss Theora Marble, the wedding taking place in the town of Cadiz, Nov. 12, 1865. Mrs. Van Matre is the daughter of Hiram and Oliva Marble, natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania. She was born April 29, 1850, and was but fifteen years of age at the time of her marriage. Their three children are, William, now seventeen years of age; Nelson, fourteen, and Daniel, eleven. Mr. Van Matre after his marriage purchased forty acres of land in Winslow Township, where he commenced life in a modest manner and was prospered in his labors. He wisely invested his spare cash in additional real-estate, and is now the owner of 300 fertile and valuable acres. The home is attractive within and without and indicates the intelligence and cultivated taste of the proprietor. Our subject, like his father, is Democratic in politics, and religiously has been identified with the Christian Church for a number of years. [Contributed by Karen Hammer from Portrait and Biographical Album of Stephenson County, Illinois Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1888 pg 420]
PETER VAN SICKLE
Peter Van Sickle, an estimable citizen of Lena, was born in New Jersey on the 20th of January, 1806. His father, Abraham Van Sickle, was also a native of New Jersey, and his grandfather, Peter Van Sickle, was a farmer, who removed from New Jersey to New York about 1807, where he located in Tompkins County and lived until about 1815. In that year he moved to Ohio and settled in Delaware County, where he died at the home of his son-in-law. The father of our subject grew to manhood in New Jersey, where he was married to Rachel Kirkenball. In 1810 he moved to Tompkins County, N. Y., where he purchased timber land, which he cleared and improved, and where he resided until his death.
Our subject was four years of age when his parents left New Jersey, and he remained with them until manhood. He went to Ohio with a neighbor in 1839, and in June of that year, he started for Illinois with his wife and four children, himself and wife each driving an ox-team, and camping out each night. Six weeks after leaving Ohio they arrived in Stephenson County. The land had not come in to the market at that time, but he bought a claim in what is now Erin Township, on which there were five acres of timber land, where he felled trees and built a log house. The mines in Wisconsin afforded the nearest market, and it required two days to make the round trip. At that time pork sold at two cents per pound, and oats sometimes as low as ten cents per bushel. After the land came into market he entered 120 acres, upon which he lived for about thirty years, improving the farm and erecting good buildings. He sold this farm and moved to Lena, and with the exception of five or six years' residence in Waddams Township has resided in the town ever since. Mr. Van Sickle has been married twice, his first wife being Julia Ann Richards, who was born in Geneva, N. Y., and died in October, 1883. By this marriage there were eight children, six of whom are living - Ann, Amanda, Andrew B., Sarah, Jane, Julia, John and Harriet. His second wife was Lavinia Thomas, who was born in the town of Belfast, Allegany Co., N. Y., Sept. 1, 1812. [Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portraits & Biographical Album, Stephenson Co., Ill., 1888 Pg 759-60]
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