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Biographies A

 Following are some biographies of families who at one time or another lived in Henry Co. Illinois. In some cases it is the parents, spouse or child who was a Henry Co. resident so please read carefully!


William L. Abbey resides on section 14, where he settled in the spring of 1884, the first improvement having been made by Mr. Applegate. Mr. Abbey was born in Morgan county, Illinois, a son of Ebenezer Abbey, a native of the State of New York; but when a young man went to Ohio. He married Miss Mary E. Tiffany, a native of Buckeye State, and afterward removed to Morgan county, Illinois, thence to Henry county, Illinois, and to Adams county, Iowa, in 1868. He passed the remainder of his days here, and his wife died when William L. was about three months old. Ebenezer Abbey was three times married. He was the father of five sons and a daughter, who is deceased.

Mr. Abbey came to Iowa in the fall of 1865. He enlisted in the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served over three years; was in the trans-Mississippi Department; participated in the seige of Mobile and the battles connected therewith. He was married just before entering the army to Miss Annetta Frink, a native of Indiana.

They have five children, three sons and two daughters. The oldest is in Illinois. All the rest are in Iowa.

Source: Biographical History of Montgomery and Adams Counties, Iowa. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1892 (Adams Co)


ALDEN, F. H., farmer, section 29, P. O. Shenadoah; born in Southberg, Worchester county, Massachusetts May 18, 1847 . At the age of eight years his parents moved to Henry county, Illinois . His early youth was spent in attending school and working on the farm. His father was killed by the cars in 1864, leaving him at the age of seventeen in charge of the family.

Was married December 25, 1869 , to Miss Mary E. Blackburn of Henry county, Illinois , and moved to Page county, Iowa, in the spring of 1871. They are the parents of six children: Fred H., Lillie Grace, Harry B., Howard D., Nellie G., and Bessie B., deceased.

They were the first to organize the first Baptist church of Shenandoah in June 1871; has been a deacon of the church since its organization, and his wife church clerk, and he holds the office of justice of the peace and township trustee. Owns 160 acres of fine land well improved and under hedge fence.

Source: History of Page County, Iowa, Des Moines: Iowa Hist. Co., 1880 p658-659

Note: couple was married in Henry Co IL


Allard, N., farmer, Sec. 10; P.O. Brough; born in Ohio, July 29, 1845; moved with his parents to Henry county, Illinois, in 1850; came to this county in 1871; owns 160 acres of land; has held the offices of assessor three years, and of justice of the peace; he enlisted in the 124th Illinois Infantry in the late war, and served until the regiment was mustered out; he married Miss Mary Wilhelm, February 29, 1869; she was born in Pennsylvania, and died January 17, 1871; he afterward married Miss Emma Wilhelm, who was born in Pennsylvania, and died February 12, 1872; he married for his third wife Miss Lucy Isenhart, August 11, 1878; she was born in Ogle county, Illinois; has two children by second marriage: Elmina and Willie.

Source: The History of Dallas County Iowa 1879, Union Historical Co, Des Moines IA

Note: couple was married in Henry Co IL


John H. Allen, druggist at Cambridge, was born Feb. 9, 1843, in Shelbyville, Ind. In ancestral descent he is of Scotch-Irish origin, his earliest progenitor having been of that race. His grandfather, Isaac Allen, came from Scotland to Virginia, and settled there and raised a family. One of them, John Allen, born in 1805, removed thence to Shelby County, Ind., where he was married to Martha Higbee. She was a native of the State of Kentucky, and was of German descent. Six of their nine children are now living. In the spring of 1850 John Allen removed his family to Mason Co., Ill., settling in Havana, where the lives of his parents terminated.

Mr. Allen, of this sketch, was educated in Havana, and at the opening of the Rebellion enlisted in the 11th Ill. Cav., and served four years in the army. Since that time he has been engaged in different mercantile pursuits, for the last eight years of which he has been engaged in the drug business, having been engaged in that business six years in Ipava, this State, and two years in Cambridge.

The marriage of Mr. Allen to Lovina Marty took place at Havana, Ill., and their children are named Emma A., Mattie E., Hattie F., Clara M. and Eugene W. Mr. Allen is a Republican in political views and actions, and a member of the A. O. U. W. and Masonic Order.

Source: Portrait And Biographical Album of Henry County, Illinois; Biographical Publishing Co; Chicago; 1885; p 672, 677

Submitted by Suzanne Franck


Oxford Township takes justifiable pride in William O. Allison, who stands in the forefront among her estimable, substantial and representative citizens. He was born January 28, 1855, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. His parents were Andrew and Susanna (Dible) Allison, the father being of Scotch ancestry and the mother of German, but both born in America. The father, who enlisted in the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, saw some of the hardest service of the Civil War. He was with Grant at Appomattox and witnessed the surrender of Lee at the close of the conflict. In his three years' service he escaped, either wound or prison, although participating in a number of hard fought battles and was present at the grand review in Washington, D. C., at the close of the war. He was a farmer by vocation and his success therein reflected his intelligence. He died in August 1907, but the mother of our subject is still living on the old homestead in Pennsylvania.

William O. Allison spent the first twenty-one years of his life amid the interesting surroundings of his father's estate in Pennsylvania and received his education in the district schools of Westmoreland County. In 1876, however, he decided to visit new scenes and came to Alpha in Oxford Township, Henry County, Illinois, where he found employment with various farmers in the locality. Two years later he married and removed to the property of his wife's father, an unusually valuable farm of two hundred acres adjoining the Village of Alpha, where he has ever since resided. He is a very extensive landholder for he has one hundred and sixty acres additional on the Knox County border, and six hundred and forty acres in the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada. The soil of the latter is particularly fitted for the raising of wheat and in fact, for every crop raised in Illinois with the exception of corn. It would be difficult to find anywhere a more enlightened agriculturist or one more alert to acquaint himself with every successful new experiment in his line. His prosperity is by no means an accident but the natural result of the application of good sense and brain power to the matter in hand. Mr. Allison was also one of the promoters of the Woods Broom Company, which for some years did a large and prosperous business in the manufacture of brooms. He was president of the foregoing and has been active in the promotion of other industries and ever a valuable adjunct to the progress and development of the community. He is now retired from all active business affairs except the supervision of his real-estate interests.

The marriage of Mr. Allison and Miss Phylinda J. Patterson was celebrated December 17, 1878. Her parents were O. H. and Margaret (Taze) Patterson of Oxford Township. The former came from New York State in the early days, and upon locating in Illinois, was first engaged in the manufacture of carpenter tools, but later turned his attention to farming. He was extremely fortunate in coming when he did for he bought land for one dollar and a quarter an acre that is now worth two hundred and twenty-five. The Taze family, of which the mother was a member, were originally of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, but came west in pioneer days. Both of these estimable people have now passed on to their reward, the mother dying in 1893 and the father two years later. They had but one child—Mrs. Allison. Five sons have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Allison. Ira D. is married and resides on the home farm; Harry O. is a professor in the State University at Urbana, Illinois; Fred G. is a biological chemist, also in the State University, both of these hold state appointments; Raymond A. is a graduate of the high school at Alpha and now a student in Knox College. The youngest, Merritt W., is in attendance at the Alpha High School. The three eldest sons all received their early education in the Alpha schools, and after a course at Knox College at Galesburg, entered the State University and graduated together in the Class of 1906. Ira D. married Miss Edna Hoff, of Chicago Heights, a daughter of Thomas Hoff. Also a graduate of the State University, she held a place in its faculty for two years as instructor in German and taught for a time in the schools of Chicago Heights. Their marriage was celebrated in June, 1906, and it is in the plan of these young people to live upon the home farm and devote their attention to scientific farming.

Mr. Allison gives unfaltering loyalty to the Republican Party and, although never an office seeker, is a man thoroughly posted on current events, whose opinion in public affairs is reverenced by his associates. That he is a firm believer in the best education possible is manifest from the training of his sons. It is consequently a matter for general congratulation that for years Mr. Allison has been willing to give his time and service as the president of the Alpha school board, which office he at present fills. He has been instrumental in securing for Alpha one of the best and most thoroughly equipped school buildings in the country.

The Allison family hold membership in the Baptist Church, in which the head of the house has for twenty years or more held the office of deacon, while he acted as superintendent of the Sunday School for fifteen years. The Baptist Church, one of the finest edifices in the county, was built while Mr. Allison held the office of trustee, and it is to be seen that his Christianity is by no means of the passive sort. He is supremely fortunate in the possession of a life companion whose aims are akin to his own. Mrs. Allison is a woman of cultivation, devoted to home and family, but finding time for outside duty. She also has been for many years a valued Sunday-school worker.

In short Mr. Allison is a splendid exponent of progress, as for instance in his own employment of crop rotation and fertilization which has made his land as productive today as it was thirty years ago. His sons share in this spirit. The second, Harry O., is recognized as an expert judge of stock, his opinion being greatly sought. He was one of the three experts selected from the State of Illinois to judge stock at the St. Louis Exposition, and also at the International Stock Show in Chicago. The Allison farm is not only one of the best in the country as far as soil and productiveness are concerned, but it is also one of the most highly improved to be found in any locality whatsoever. It is well drained and well fenced, and the residence, barns and other farm buildings are all modern in arrangement and completeness, the handsome residence possessing all the modern conveniences. This is in truth a model farm with a place for everything and everything in its place, an ornament and object of pride in Oxford Township.

Source: History of Henry County Illinois, Volume II, Henry L. Kiner, Chicago: Pioneer Publishing Co, 1910

Submitted by: Alice Gless


Section 30, P. O. Stanton; he was born in Sweden, October 12, 1824. In 1865 he emigrated to America, coming to Galesburg, Illinois, and living there two years; then moved to Andover, Henry County, Illinois; then to Henry County, Iowa, living there four years, and in 1873 came to this county. He was married to Miss Anna Peterson, in August, 1846; she was born in Sweden in 1823. They are the parents of six children, four living: Victor, born August 10, 1850; Ida, born August 8, 1856; Josie, born December 12, 1858; Albert, born March 1, 1860. He is the owner of 80 acres of land, well improved. His principal business is farming and stock raising, but works at times at his trade of blacksmithing. They belong to the Lutheran church.

Source: History of Montgomery Co, Iowa, 1881, Scott Twp


Carl A. Anderson, editor of "The Weekly Gazette," at Wausa, is a Nebraska boy to the manor born. His parents, August and Christine Anderson, were natives of Kylingared parish, Elfborgs district, Sweden; the father's birth occurred November 9, 1834, and the mother's the sixth day of April, 1838. They were married in Sweden, on February 22, 1866, and soon after set sail for the new world. Crossing the North sea from Stockholm, to Hull, they proceeded by rail to Liverpool, where they went on board a sail ship and reached the coast of Nova Scotia after a tiresome journey of little over twenty-one days. The ship was not allowed to harbor, but was kept on anchor out at sea on account of cholera breaking out on board, and they were kept in quarantine there for several days. The mother contracted the disease and for a time her life hung in it balance, but was mercifully spared. This was only the first of their troubles. On arriving at Jamestown, New York, they discovered that some one reporting them dead on board the ship and given a watery grave had obtained possession of their trunk and belongings and decamped, thus leaving them with nothing but the clothes they wore and two or three dollars in money.

The father worked on a farm in New York state for some three months, after which he and his young wife removed to Bishop's Hill, New York (sic), and later to Geneseo, Illinois. Here they lived until 1867, when they came to Nebraska, and settled in Saunders county, taking up a homestead about fourteen miles south of Fremont.

Trouble seemed to follow the travelers. While the mother came by passenger train, Mr. Anderson came through with their furniture, and the train in which his car was made up was wrecked. By quickly jumping through a window of the car, the father's life was saved. After settling in their Nebraska home, hardships and misfortunes relentlessly pursued them; grasshoppers devastated their crops for three years in the seventies, leaving hard times and want in their wake; prairie fires frequently came racing down onto them, and one time got so far beyond their control that the sills of their house took fire, but was fortunately extinguished before any great damage was done.

Deer and antelope were to be seen in the country when the senior Mr. Anderson settled with his family in Nebraska, sometimes coming into the door yard. The eighty-acre homestead was sold after a few years, and a tract of one hundred and sixty acres purchased. The mother's illness for three years during the eighties set the family back to such extent that popular subscription was gathered by the neighbors to defray a part of the doctor bills, but her partial recovery made the family happy again and now hopes of the future were entertained. During these three years, Carl, was cared for by neighbors and came near being adopted by one of those families. Through dire and brighter years the family continued their residence in this same place until in January of 1893, when two of the sons came to Wausa, being followed here in March of the same year by the father and mother, the latter making this their home until death. The father passed away November 13, 1896, the mother October 6, 1909. Their five children are: J. Albert, farmer and stock raiser, living north of Wausa; Frank Edwin, editor of "Omaha Posten," at Omaha, Nebraska, a weekly Swedish newspaper devoted to the interests of the Swedish Americans; Theodore, a merchant of Wausa; Cecelia Gertrude, wife of Charles S. Erickson, farming one mile north of Wausa; and Carl August, the subject of this sketch.

Carl August Anderson was born at Mead, Saunders county, Nebraska, August 25, 1879, and lived there until May 30, 1893, when he joined the family in Knox county. Mr. Anderson attended the common schools of Saunders county and later the schools of Wausa.

In 1895 he began learning the printers trade and kept at the case for eight months, when he returned to the farm and worked a year and a half. He next worked a couple of years in Wausa, learning harness making, and then clerked for sixteen months at Wakefield, Nebraska.

On January 1, 1901, he bought a half interest in the "Wausa Gazette" of Mr. J. E. Baggstrom, who had established the journal in partnership with Frank Edwin Anderson, now editor of the "Omaha Posten." The brothers were associated in the publication of the "Gazette" until January 1, 1904, when Carl purchased the entire interest in the paper, and his brother moved to Omaha to take up a wider field of journalism. He edits a live country paper full of news and a goodly amount of display advertising. His job work ranks well to the front as compared with work turned out by country shops, and he enjoys a liberal patronage as his products of "the art preservative" well merits. Mr. Anderson was appointed postmaster of Wausau, January 1, 1908, and is serving his first term to the satisfaction of all those receiving mail at that office.

Mr. Anderson was married at Mead, Nebraska, August 31, 1904, to Miss Olga Elenore Monteen, a Nebraska girl. She is a daughter of Gust and Ingrid (Berg) Monteen, both hailing Sweden as the place of their nativity. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson are the parents of two children, Rupert Cedric and Gordon Vladimir.

In politics Mr. Anderson is a staunch republican, and through the "Gazette" gives healthy support to the party candidates. Like many of his people, he is a member of the Swedish Lutheran church, and is putting in some earnest work in promoting this good cause, having acted as leader of the local choir for the past eight years, and also been associated with many other musical organization within the church.

Source: Compendium of History, Reminiscence and Biography of Nebraska, Alden Pub Co, Chicago, 1912


Was born in Sweden in 1850. His father being a carpenter and contractor, young Levin worked at that trade for a time. When only 14 years of age he was employed as secretary of a sheriff in Sweden . In 1867 he bade adieu to the land of his fathers, and embarked for the western continent. He located in Andover , Illinois , where he was engaged in different kinds of business until 1875, when he moved to Essex . Since here, he has clerked for several firms until in June, 1879, when he commenced doing business as a member of the firm of Anderson & Pherson. The firm carrying a fine stock of dry goods and groceries, and is doing a growing business. He was united in marriage in 1878, to Miss Ida Holtman, from which union there have resulted two children: Hilma and Walter.

Source: History of Page County, Iowa; Des Moines: Iowa Hist. Co., 1880 Pierce twp p 758


John Wesley Arrasmith, a prosperous and influential citizen residing in precinct N, Seward county, was the first white child born in Henry county, Illinois, his birth occurring November 23, 1835, and the greater part of his life has been passed amidst scenes of frontier life. His parents were Alvin and Emily (Stowers) Arrasmith, and his paternal grandparents Wesley and Elizabeth (Reed) Arrasmith. They were all originally from England, and were devout members of the Methodist Episcopal church. The father died June 9, 1863, at the age of fifty-seven years. Our subject was his only son, but in the family were seven daughters, six of whom are still living, namely: Sarah H., Mary J., Nancy G., Martha R., Margaret A. and Julia A. All are married and have homes of their own.

The subject of this review received his education in the common schools of Henry county, Illinois, and early obtained a thorough practical knowledge of farm work upon the old homestead, which was presented to him by his father prior to his marriage. It was on the 25th of June, 1862, that he led to the marriage altar Miss Rosilla Maria Derby. She is one of a family of six children, the others being Hattie, Charles W., J. Fletcher, H. Willie and Joseph H., all of whom are married and have homes of their own. The oldest brother, Charles Wesley Derby, has served two terms as sheriff of Butler county, Nebraska, and is quite popular as a public official and citizen. Mr. and Mrs. Arrasmith began housekeeping in a new residence which he had erected on the old farm, and there continued to make their home until March, 1883, when he sold the place, consisting of three hundred acres, at sixty dollars per acre, and started for Nebraska. At Bellwood he purchased land at seven dollars per acre and there engaged in agricultural pursuits for nine years. His next home was in Beaver Crossing, where he lived until October, 1893, when he sold his property in town and moved to his present farm in precinct N, Seward county, where he has four hundred acres of valuable and well improved land, which he has placed under a high state of cultivation, making it one of the most productive, as well as one of the most attractive farms in the locality.

Ten children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Arrasmith, of whom nine are still living, as follows: (1) Alvin Joseph married Clara Herder, daughter of Peter Herder, and they have five children, Benjamin, who is now fourteen years old, but being born on the 29th of February, he only has a birthday every four years; Fred Alvin; Alta May; Edward Parsons and Lillie. (2) Ida May is the wife of George McMullen, and they have six children: George William, Arthur, Otis, Lydia Jane, Paul A. and an infant. (3) Minnie Melvina is the wife of Arthur French, son of Henry and Mary French, of Hartford, Connecticut, and they have three children: Mary Willard, John Wesley and Olive Arrasmith. (4) Hattie Opal is the wife of Edmond Johnson, of Girard, Michigan, and they have two children: Earl G. and Clark Willard. (5) Lillie Parthenia is the wife of Hugh McMullen, and they have three children: John Harvey; Paul Verninum and Grace Belle. (6) Fred Arthur married Mamie Seavey, daughter of Josiah and Abbie Seavey. Her father died from disease contracted in the army during the Rebellion. To Fred and Mamie Arrasmith have been born two children: Howard Arthur and Ruth Seavey. (7) Fannie Amelia is the wife of David Stall and they have three children: Florence May, Bessie Opal and Fern Amelia. (8) Bessie Pearl and (9) John Wesley are still at home. The children are not only the joy and pride of their parents but also of their grandparents as well, and often make the home of the latter ring with their merriment.

Since casting his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Arrasmith has been a pronounced Republican in politics, a firm believer in a high protective tariff and the gold standard, and he supported William McKinley at the last election. Mrs. Arrasmith is a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal church of Beaver Crossing, and though not a member of any denomination her husband is also a believer in the Christian religion. They are widely and favorably known and have made many warm friends since coming to Seward county, in whose future prosperity they take a deep interest.

Source: Memorial and Biographical Record of Butler, Polk, Seward, York and Fillmore Counties, Nebraska, p 853-854


ATKINSON, James. Farmer, Sec. 23, P. O. Ulah; born in County Derry, Ireland, May 19, 1830; Rep; Pres; owns 80 acres land, value $4,000; lived in Ireland nineteen years; came to this country 1855; lived in Philadelphia five years; came to Kewanee, Henry Co. in 1861, lived there fifteen years; worked nine years and four months for Mr. Willard, Nurseryman; has held office Roadmaster; married Miss Nancy McAdoo Feb. 3, 1858; she was born County Donegal, Ireland; have eight children, six girls, two boys; lost one daughter.

Source: The History of Henry County, Illinois, Its Tax-Payers and Voters; Chicago: H. F. Kett & Co., 1877

Submitted by: Bonnie Wiley


Attorney. One of the self-made men and prominent attorneys of the Sixth congressional district is the subject of this sketch. He was born in Lake County, Ohio, the twenty-sixth of July 1836. His father, Buenos Ayres, was a native of Massachusetts: his mother, Sarah Osborne, was a native of Connecticut. In infancy the family removed to Hicksville, Defiance County, where they resided until 1850. Then removed to Wisconsin, and in 1851 to Illinois, where he was raised, receiving the benefits of a limited common-school education.

In 1861 he commenced reading law in the office of Howe & North at Kewanee in  December 1863. He opened an office at Kewanee and practiced ten months, after which he came to Iowa, locating in Knoxville, where he has since been numbered among the leading counselors of central Iowa. For a number of years he has been associated with ex-Gov. Wm. M. Stone. The firm of Stone & Ayres is well known throughout the Northwest. He is a Master Mason and an Odd Fellow. He was married July 13, 1864, to Miss Anna M. Stone. They have seven children living: Edward C., Helen A., Augusta, William S., George W., O.B., and Ransom M.

Source: History of Marion County, Iowa; Des Moines: Union Historical Company, 1881