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Edgar County
Biography Page

The History of Edgar County, Illinois

Transcribed and contributed by
Jane A. Fullington
jgeick@sprynet.com

This history of Edgar County is taken from the book, "The History of Edgar County, Illinois", published in 1879 by Wm. Le Baron, Jr. & Co., 186 Dearborn Street, Chicago, Ill. It was compiled by historians, W. H. Perrin, H. H. Hill, and A. A. Graham.

Paris Township

THE EARLY SETTLEMENT

Among the early settlers of Paris Township we may mention Thomas Jones, Samuel Vance, Charles Ives, William Whitley, Leander Munsell, James Wiley, Laban Burr, Gen. M. K. Alexander, Col. Jonathan Mayo Abner Dill, Smith Shaw, Joseph B. Vance, Solomon Dill, M. M. Dill, Maj. E. P. Shaw, Thomas Brock, John B. Alexander, Adriel Stout, Nathaniel Wayne, Thomas Tenery, Garland B. Shellady, James Jones, William Means, Davis Crosier, George Redmon, Robert Brown, Lawson Kimble, John Lycan, Madison Johnson, Rev. John V. Bovell, William Johnson, John Bovell, James Hoskins, Rev. William Philips, Abraham Welsh, James T. Whitney, John Montgomery, Thomas Morgan, Patrick Whalen, Washington Alexander, Michael Whalen, John S. Dill, George W. Redmon, Thomas Pinson, James Pinson, Robert M. Ray, Jacob G. Lycan, James H. Tenery, Patrick C. Tenery, Willard Center, William Vance, George Moke, James Gordon, William D. Darnall, Sylvester Barker and many others, perhaps, whose names we have been unable to learn. Of all this list of pioneers, Thomas Jones is conceded to be the first settler in Paris Township. He came from Christian County, Ky., and settled in the southern part of the township in July, 1821, and had a family of three sons and four daughters. After the father's death, which occurred at an early day, the family emigrated to Texas, where two of the sons were killed by Indians. Hall Sims, an early settler of Sims Township, married one of the daughters.

Samuel Vance came to Illinois in the fall of 1822, and settled in Paris Township near the city. His residence was about half a mile northwest of the public square, and his original farm is mostly embraced in the city of Paris at the present time. He was born in Virginia, but removed to Tennessee where he resided for ten years, then came to Illinois, as noted above. He donated twenty-six acres of land, upon which the county seat of Edgar County was located. Mr. Vance died in 1856. A son, Joseph B. Vance, is still living, also a maiden daughter, who resides in the city of Paris. William Vance, another son, lately deceased, has fours sons living, who may be classed among the live business men of the town. Charles Ives settled in Paris Township in 1822, and was from Connecticut. His father came with him to the county, and was very old and feeble at the time, tottering upon the brink which forms the boundary line between two worlds, and lived but a few years after settling here. The younger Ives was a man of considerable prominence, and one of the first Board of County Commissioners, as well as Representative in the State Legislature for two terms. He moved to the State of Michigan many years ago and all trace of him is lost.

Smith Shaw was a native of the Palmetto State, and located in Illinois as early as 1814. He left South Carolina and stopped for a few years in Tennessee. From there he removed to Missouri, but was forced to "flee from the wrath to come," during the war of 1812, on account of the depredations committed by the Indians while the war was going on. He took his family from Missouri to Kentucky, when he came to Indiana and then to Illinois, stopping in Crawford County in the fall of 1814, and spending the winter in old Fort La Motte, which stood within the present limits of Palestine, then the county seat of Crawford County. The next spring, he entered land half a mile east of Palestine, where he lived until his removal to Edgar county, in December, 1822. He settled on land now embraced in the city of Paris, and on a part of which his son, Maj. E. P. Shaw, now lives. Mr. Shaw left the neighborhood of Palestine on account of the malarial diseases prevalent there, and which, to a considerable extent, still cling to the place. When he came to Paris, he found Samuel Vance and Thomas Jones living in the neighborhood. Jones had raised a crop of corn, and Shaw bought corn of him to last him until he could raise a crop, or provide himself elsewhere. He died in 1838; his wife survived him, passing away in 1875 at the age of eighty-six years. Maj. E. P. Shaw, a son, lives on the land owned by his father at his death, and is a merchant of Paris. He was Major of the Tenth Illinois Cavalry during the late war, and went out in 1861, remaining two years when his health gave way and he was forced to resign and come home. H. S. Shaw is a brother, Mrs. Amanda Smith, widow of the late Dr. Smith, is a sister. These live in Paris, and besides, there is a sister in California, and another in Kansas, and a brother in Charleston, Ill. William M. Shaw, an older brother, was in the Black Hawk war. A. F. Shaw, the brother living in Charleston (but then living in Paris) was Second Lieutenant in the Fourth Illinois Volunteers (Col. Baker) during the war with Mexico. Another brother was killed in the late war, in Virginia. Thomas Brock was probably from Ohio, and came here very early. He started a tan-yard about 1828-29. Mr. Shaw sold him ten acres of ground, upon which was an excellent spring. There were improvements on the land, also a good orchard, and Shaw sold it to him for $100, giving him his own time to pay it, in order to get the tannery in operation.

Hon. John B. Alexander was a native of North Carolina, and had lived in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama before emigrating to Illinois. He settled in Vermilion county, or in territory now embraced in Vermilion County, in 1820, locating on the Little Vermilion River, and was the second family who settled in what was called "The Little Vermilion Timber." He removed to Edgar County in 1821, and located in the North Arm settlement, known then under the euphonious title of Cambridge City. Both Edgar and Vermilion Counties at that time were a part of Clark, and while living in "Cambridge City," Mr. Alexander was elected a Commissioner of Clark county. He was elected on of the first three Commissioners of Edgar after its formation, also the first Representative in the Legislature, as well as the first Postmaster. To the latter office, he was appointed by Uncle Sam about 1822-23. He soon resigned, however, and his son, Milton K. Alexander, was appointed in his stead. Mr. Alexander remained in the county but a few years, then returned to the settlement from whence he came, and finally removed to Danville, where he died in 1850, at the age of eighty-five years. Though he did not live in Paris Township, he was a man of considerable prominence, holding various public offices and positions of honor and trust, and we deem it but proper that notice should be made of him here, as well as in the history of Hunter Township, where he lived while a citizen of the county. His ancestors were natives of the north of Ireland; but at the time of the Revolution, the Alexander family, it is said, were quite numerous in the Carolinas, no less than six of them having signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. When but a boy, living near Charlotte, he very distinctly remembered seeing Lord Cornwallis and his read coats, during their occupancy of that country, and of going to mill on horse-back and passing through the British camp. His wife Barbara King was a native of Scotland, and passed away a few years before him. Hugh King, a brother of hers, came to America before the Revolutionary war, and served through the doubtful struggle as a fifer in the American army. He also died in Danville.

Gen. Milton K. Alexander, was a son of John B. Alexander, and took a prominent part in the Black Hawk war. He settled in Paris in 1823, the year the county was organized, and soon after engaged in mercantile and agricultural pursuits. On the establishment of mail facilities, the was appointed Postmaster (in place of his father who had resigned), a position he held for twenty-five years. During the war of 1812, though but a boy in years, he undertook the sternest duties--those imposed by a soldier's life. He was out with the Tennessee Mounted Volunteers, under Gen. Jackson, against the warlike savages of the south, instigated to hostilities by the opportunities offered by the war. He was chosen First Lieutenant by his comrades, and from the time he entered the service until the taking of Pensacola, November 6, 1814, remained under the immediate command of Gen. Jackson. After the war was over, he returned to his old home in (then in Tennessee), where he was married in 1819, to Miss Mary Shields, and came to Edgar County and located in Paris in 1823. In 1826, he was commissioned Colonel of the Nineteenth regiment of Illinois Militia by Gov. Edward Coles, and in December 1830, was appointed Aide-de-Camp to Gov. Reynolds. In 1832, he was elected and commissioned Brigadier General of the Second Brigade of Illinois Volunteers, and was in active service in that capacity until the close of the Black Hawk war. In 1830, he became a member of the Presbyterian Church of Paris, and maintained his connection with it until his death, July 7, 1856. Few men have left a brighter record behind them or a larger circle of devoted friends, than Gen. Alexander.

Washington Alexander, a brother of the last-named gentleman, is still living in Paris. He also served in the Black Hawk war, but in the regiment of Col. Moore. He acted as a courier between that officer and Gov. Reynolds, whom he found on the Illinois River at Fort Milburn.

Col. Jonathan Mayo, another of the early settlers on North Arm Prairie, and who is extensively noticed in the county history, as well as that of Hunter Township, deserves, also, some mention in Paris Township, where he has resided since 1827. He was the first Circuit Clerk of the county, and removed into the city in order to be nearer the place of his business. Col. Mayo held the office of Circuit Clerk from organization of the county (except two years the office was held by Amos Williams) until 1848, when, under the Constitution adopted in 1847, it became elective by the people.

Nathaniel Wayne was originally from Richmond, Va., where he had learned the trade of a shoemaker. He came to Paris in 1823, and bought one of the first lots (sold at the public sale of lots), on which he build a tavern. This was the first public house in the place, and stood on the lot now occupied by the Opera-house. He afterward entered land in the western part of the county, and opened a public house there, and finally removed to Iowa. Thomas Tenery came to the county in 1820, and was from Kentucky, the same part of the State from which the Lowrys came, and was related to them. In coming to the county, Tenery brought their stock overland, while the Lowrys all came by water. He was the first brickmaker we have heard of in the township and, perhaps, the county. He made the brick for Col. Mayo's chimneys at his present residence, likewise all the brick used in the county for several years. John H. Tenery and Patrick C. Tenery were sons of Thomas Tenery; the former died here some four years ago, and Patrick moved away. Robert M. Ray was from Ohio, and settled here in 1830. He served two terms as Sheriff of the county; moved in the city, broke up in business and then moved away. The Whalens came from Kentucky, in 1826. Patrick Whalen died a few years ago, and Bartholomew is still living in the township. He was one of the first blacksmiths in the county. William Whalen lives in Coles County. Aaron Pinson was from Virginia, and settled here in 1825. He had several sons, but none are now living in this section of the country.

James Wiley came to Illinois in 1826, and settled on Big Creek, in Clark county, and in 1827, moved to Paris. He first found shelter in an old log cabin that stood south of the square, near the center, and just east of the old frame Court House. In 1828, Wiley moved into a cabin belonging to Samuel Vance, and during the latter part of the year, built a cabin on land afterward known as the Myner place. In 1829, Wiley took charge of Bell's mill, on Big Creek, which was one of the early institutions of the county. From the mill, he went to a place southwest of Paris, where he remained until October, 1830, when he purchased a tavern stand, situated where the Metcalf storehouse now is, on the south side of the public square, where he remained until 1832. When he came to the country, in 1827, there were but a few families in what is now Paris Township

In the spring of 1823, William Means, his brother-in-law, William Beard and Eleven Tucker, and tow sons-in-law, David Crosier and Adriel Stout, settled in the immediate vicinity of the present city of Paris. They formed a sort of colony, and were from Adams County, Ohio, settling first in Vermilion County in the early part of 1822, or rather in territory now embraced in that county, but at the period of which we write it was, together with Edgar, a part of Clark County. Means had been to Illinois in 1821, and entered land in Vermilion, and early in 1822, with some of his oldest sons, came out and raised a crop. He returned to Ohio in the fall and moved his family to his new home, bringing the little colony alluded to above. They all came by water in a "keelboat," except Means and Beard, who came overland with the stock, while the others came down the Ohio River and up the Wabash as far as Macomb's Ferry, where winter overtook them and the river froze over. They then abandoned the boat and hauled their goods the remainder of the way in wagons.

In 1823, they moved down into this county, Mr. Means locating where his son, Thomas Means, now lives; Mr. Beard a little east of him, while Crosier and Stout settled near by. Tucker settled in Elbridge Township, upon his first coming to the country in1822, there being a few families already living there. The field lying just sough of Thomas Means' house was the first land broken by Mr. Means after his settlement, and has been in cultivation for about fifty-five years. Thomas Means claims to have lived longer on one place than any man in Edgar County--living on the old homestead, where his father settled in 1823. John C. Means, a brother to Thomas, lives a few miles distant. These are all of the family now living in the county. A sister (Mrs. Bovell) lives in Coles County; another sister (Mrs. McDonald) lives in Iowa. Crosier moved to Chicago, and then to Iowa, where he died about two years ago, and his wife some years before. Mr. Stout died in the neighborhood where his kindness and benevolence had long been as household words. He was a good man, and was the originator of Sunday schools in Paris. The elder Means and Beard died on their original settlements years ago.

The Bovells came from Tennessee. John Bovell settled here in 1826, where he lived for years. His son, John Vance Bovell married a daughter of William Means. A nephew of Mr. Bovell's was a Presbyterian minister of some note, and preached here for a number of years. His father came here from Tennessee, when very old and feeble, to find a home with his children. James F. Whitney came to Charleston in 1830, and to Paris in 1832, and was from Kentucky. He served as Sheriff in 1843-44 and died with the cholera while in office. John Montgomery was also from Kentucky. He was a quiet citizen, possessing limited knowledge and taking but little part in the business matters of the county. He came to the town in 1825, and finally moved away, but where he went, we could not learn. Robert Brown was likewise from Kentucky. He came in 1825-26, and died at least forty years ago. Madison and William Johnson were from Ohio, and settled here about 1826-28. They are both still living--Madison near the head of Sugar Creek, two miles from Paris, while William lives in the city and is one of the owners of the Paris City Mills. John Lycan is mentioned as one of the early settlers of Hunter Township, but he, after some years, moved into Paris Township, and later to the city, where he is noticed as one of the first blacksmith. He finally sold out in Paris and removed to Clark County, and died there, but has descendants still living in this county. George Moke was from Kentucky and came here about 1828. He was Second Lieutenant in Capt. Robert N. Griffin's company during the Black Hawk war. He died on his farm south of Paris some eighteen or twenty years ago. He was noted all over the county as a crier of public sales.

William Whitley was one of the very earliest settlers in the county. He was from Kentucky, and located on the "North Arm" in the spring of 1817, not only before the formation of the county, but before the State was admitted into the Union. In 1823, he sold out in that neighborhood to Rev. Mr. McReynolds, and moved into Paris Township, and settled where Joe Redmon now lives. He has a daughter, Mrs. Freemen, living in the city of Paris; Mrs. John Metcalf is also a daughter. He was one of the first Constables ever appointed in the county. Aaron and Thomas Pinson and Solomon McGwire were from Kentucky. The latter came in 1824, the others in 1825-26, and are now dead and gone.

Lawson Kimble is from Ohio, and came to the county in 1830. He located three miles north of Paris, where his son G. W. Kimble now lives, and where he remained until 1855, when he removed to the city of Paris, and is still a resident of the place. When he came to the settlement, M. K. Alexander and James Jones had stores in the village of Paris; Bob Shields, a grocery, which, with a blacksmith-shop or two, and a tavern by Abner Dill, comprised the future city. James Jones came from New York and settled near Paris. He married a daughter of Samuel Vance, and has been dead for years. James Gordon was one of the early settlers of Edgar Township, and, in 1840, moved into Paris, then a feeble village.

The Dills and Redmons came from Kentucky, and settled in Paris Township. Abner Dill, the father of the Dills known now in Paris, settled in the town about 1825-26. He has been dead several years, but has two sons, namely, M. M. and Jackson Dill, living in the city. M. M. Dill is one of the proprietors of the Edgar County Mills, and a solid business man of the city. George Redmon settled some two miles south of Paris in 1825. He died four or five years ago. George W. Redmon, a son, lives in Paris, and is also a partner in the magnificent Edgar County Mills. A daughter of the elder Redmon, and widow of David Connelly, also lives in Paris. William D. Darnall is an early settler of Grand View Township, where his father located in 1822, and in the history of which town they are more particularly referred to. They were from Kentucky, and William D. is the last one left of a large family. He has for some time, been living in the city of Paris, and to him we are indebted for many historical facts of Grand View, and of other portions of the county. Sylvester Barker is an early settler of Brouillett Township, but moved into Paris in 1839, where he has since resided. Garland B. Shellady is an early settler, and the first lawyer who located in Paris. James Hoskins was an early settler, but has been dead for many years. Of Welsh, Morgan, Center and a few others in our list of old settlers, given at the beginning of this chapter, we have been able to learn but little beyond their names.

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Paris Township

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