William Henry Brawner, one of the most venerable and highly honored of the Tazewell County pioneers of 1842, and whose many years of farming activity were followed by retirement to Green Valley in 1902, was born in Columbia, Adair County, Ky., July 3, 1818. He is a son of John S. and Margaret (Atkinson) Brawner, and a grandson of John and Nancy (Speck) Brawner. The paternal branch of the family was known in Virginia before the war of Independence, as was also the maternal branch of Atkinson, the latter being first represented in Kentucky by Josiah, the grandfather her of William Henry, who married Frances Teabue, a native daughter of Kentucky. The marriage of their daughter Margaret to John S. Brawner was solemnized after the removal of the latter to Adair County, Ky., where the young people spent many years of their wedded life, removing to Schuyler County, Ill., in 1834.
William Henry, then sixteen years of age, entered with zest into this overland trip, and today recalls with undiminished enthusiasm the adventures which made it memorable. A tangible souvenir of these days and nights of travel in covered wagons through an ever- changing country, is a pine tar-bucker, made by his father in Kentucky and used, during the westward journey, to hold axle-grease for the wagons. Mr. Brawner treasures this bucket with exceeding care, and also a turnkey, used for extracting teeth, made over two hundred and fifty years ago.
The family settled on a farm near Rushville, Schuyler County, and William assisted in the cultivation of a newly improved tract until 1842, removing then to Pekin, where he remained a couple of years. In Rushville, in 1842, he married Mary E. Patterson (born in 1825) and, with his wife, settled near Delavan, in Dillon Township, Tazewell County, which continued to be his home for fifty-eight years, or until coming to Green Valley in 1902.
As a pioneer of his locality, Mr. Brawner took an active interest in its educational and general advancement, proving himself a progressive and tireless farmer, an obliging and always considerate neighbor, and a husband and father to whom his family are indebted for an excellent livelihood and many advantages. In time he owned 480 acres in Dillon Township, all of which gave evidence of his practical methods and wise management. In the early days, goods were freighted from Pekin to St. Louis on the ice, which extended from shore to shore of the Illinois and the Mississippi rivers, and this method of transportation is cited by Mr. Brawner as illustrating the extent of the changes which have taken place in his own life and surroundings.
Mrs. Brawner, who died in 1891, bore ten children, of whom the living are: Joseph, Edward, Robert, Lucy, Charles, and Jennie. Mr. Brawner is a member of the Presbyterian Church, which, in common with other institutions for the uplifting of the community, has profited by his generous contributions and active co-operation.
Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Tazewell County - page 983
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