James D. TAIT

James D. Tait, who is now living a retired life at his pleasant home at No. 240 East Jefferson Street, Decatur, is numbered among the honored pioneers of Macon County, and well deserves representation in this volume. He traces his ancestors back to natives of the Emerald Isle, his grandparents having lived and died in that country. His father, Samuel Tait, was born in Ireland, and, having emigrated to America, became a farmer of Beaver County, Pa., where he died in 1831, at the age of sixty-six years. His wife, who was also born in Ireland, and who bore the maiden name of Martha Hogue, survived him for a number of years, and passed away in Beaver County, at the advanced age of ninety-two. They had a familiy of nine children, as follows: John, Jane, Robert, Samuel, Thomas, Martha, James D., Ross and Matthew. Only three of the family beside our subject are now living; Thomas, a resident of Niles, Ohio; Ross, of Newton, Iowa; and Matthew, who makes his home near Newcastle, Pa.

Our subject, the othe surviving member, was born in Beaver County, Pa., July 15, 1817, and remained at home until fourteen years of age. His father having died, he was then bound out to learn the saddler's trade. He traveled for a number of years as a journeyman and in 1839 came to this county, establishing the first harness and saddlery shop in Decatur. He followed that business for six years, or until failing health compelled him to abandon it, when he turned his attention to farming, purchasing one hundred and twenty acres of land two miles north of Decatur. A portion of this he bought for $5 per acre. He how owns a fine farm of two hundred and fifty acres, and its present value, owing to its highly cultivated state and the many improvements thereon, is not less than $100 per acre. He remained on his farm until 1876, when he removed to the city, where he has a good home property.

On the 14th of June, Mr. Tait was united in marriage with Miss Susan, daughter of Joseph and Barbara (Benson) Spangler, natives of Pennsylvania. Five children were born unto them, but James, Daniel and Robert are now deceased, Joseph and Felix being the only ones now living. The mother of this family died May 28, 1882. She was a member of the Universalist Church, in which Mr. Tait has served as Trustee for many years. On the 11th of January, 1884, he was again married, this union being with Mrs. Catherine Rea, widow of Samuel Rea, and a daughter of John and Magdeline (Gudtner) Dennis.

In the early days, Mr. Tait served as County Commissioner, and was also Township Assessor, but he has never been an office-seeker. On coming to Decatur he made the journey by way of New Orleans and St. Louis, thence up the Illinois River to Naples, and on foot across the country to this city. He carried his tools on his back and waded through swamps waist deep. On his arrival the southern part of Decatur was covered with timber and brush, and the present site of Central Park was covered with a thick growth of hazel. He has witnessed the city's growth from a mere village to a city of twenty thousand inhabitants, with fine schools, churches, residences, large manufacturing establishments and industires, and all that goes to make up a thriving and progressive place. He has taken a commendable interest in the growth and development of the place and Macon County, and has ever born his part in the discharge of public duties. He is highly esteemed for his sterling worth and his many excellencies of character, and well deserved mention in the history of the county which numbers him among its pioneers.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Macon Co., Illinois, 1893 - p. 209-210

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Joseph S. TAIT

Joseph S. Tait, who now carries on farming on section 28, South Macon Township, and who is also engaged quite extensively in stock-raising, is numbered among the early settlers of Macon County, and has the honor of being one of her native sons. He comes from a pioneer family, his parents, James D. and Susan (Spangler) Tait, having here located at an early day. Our subject was born in Decatur, March 28, 1843, and when he was a lad of seven summers his parents removed to a farm, upon which he remained until he had attained his majority. The common schools afforded him his educational privileges.

After arriving at man's estate, Mr. Tait rented land and began farming for himself. After a few years, he purchased land in Hickory Point Township, where he made his home until 1882, when he removed to Decatur. After two years spent in the county seat, he putchased the farm on which he now resides, in 1884, and has since made his home in South Macon Township. As a companion and helpmate on life's journey, he chose Martha E. Dillehunt, daughter of Benjamin and Martha Dillechunt. The union of our subject and his wife was celebrated January 24, 1871, and unto them were born four children, but only three are now living: Daniel W., Benjamin F. and Susan E., who are still under the parental roof.

In 1879, Mr. Tait embarked in the manufacture of the Tait check-rower in Decatur, under the firm name of Tait Brothers and Co. This machine is the invention of his brother, F.B. Tait. Our subject continued business in that line for about four years, when, in 1883, he sold his interest to A.W. Conklin. He now owns one of the best farms in the town of South Macon, comprising four hundred and sixty acres of highly cultivated land. He raises considerable stock, making a specialty of breeding Polled-Angus and Durham cattle and Percheron-Norman horses. His farm adjoins the corporation limits of Macon and is supplied with all modern conveniences and accessories. The owner is accounted one of the prosperous agriculturists of the county, and to this position he has attained through his own untiring and well-directed efforts. He began life for himself with no capital save a young man's bright hope of the future, but perseverance and good management have stood him instead of fortune, and have been the stepping stones on which he has arisen to a place among the wealthy citizens of the community. In politics, he is a supporter of the Democracy, and is now acceptably serving as School Trustee of his township. Socially, he is a member of South Macon Lodge No. 362, M.W.A., and himself and wife are members of the Universalist Church. This worthy couple have by their many excellencies of character won the warm regard of all, and in social circles they hold an enviable position.

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Thomas M. TAYLOR

Thomas M. Taylor, a farmer and stockraiser, resideing on section 33, Blue Mound Township, has the honor of being a native of Macon County. He first opened his eyes to the light of day August 24, 1850, on the old home farm of the Taylor family. His father, John G. Taylor, was a native of Virgina, and with his parents came to Illinois in 1839, locating near Springfield. He was the second in a family of eleven children born to David and Sarah (Young) Taylor, but only three of the number are now living: James, who is a resident of this county; Amanda J., wife of Luther Devons, a farmer and stock-raiser of Polk County, Iowa; and Louisa, widow of James Pope, also a resident of Macon County.

John Taylor was reared to manhood amid the scenes of frontier life, and in 1836 came to Macon County, where he entered land from the Government, developing the farm on which his son Thomas now resides. He was one of the earliest settlers of the community and was one of the prominent agriculturists. While going to Buffalo, N.Y., with stock, he was killed on the railroad at Toledo, Ohio, in August, 1873. Mr. Taylor had been twice married. He first wedded Elizabeth Warnick, of Macon County, and unto them were born two children: James M., a farmer of Kansas; and Anna, widow of Lyman King. After the death of his first wife Mr. Taylor married Martha M. Dilly, a native of Maryland. Her girlhood days were spent in that State, and with her parents she came to Illinois. She died January 2, 1869, and was buried by the side of her husband in Greenwood Cemetery, of Decatur, where a large and beautiful monument marks their last resting-place. She had also been previously married. On the 13th of October, 1842, she became the wife of William B. Bosworth, who died three years later leaving a son, Joseph B. The parents of our subject had three children besides our subject: Benjamin Z., a resident of Decatur, who, as a partner of Thomas, is engaged in the stock business; William, an insurance agent residing in Chicago; and Jennie, wife of James Durfee, who is engaged in the real-estate business in Decatur.

Thomas Taylor whose name heads this sketch passed his boyhood days quietly upon his father's farm, amid the scenes of frontier life in Macon County. On attaining his majority, he began life for himself and soon was employed by the Japanese Government to take a trainload of stock from the United States to that country. At that time he was only a young man, but he was recommended by R.J. Oglesby, who was then Governor of Illinois. Our subject remained in Japan for one year, after which he returned to the United States, and again coming to the old home farm he purchased his father's herd of thoroughbred Shorthorn cattle. He rented the old farm and also engaged in raising Berkshire hogs. He has since engaged extensively in farming and stock-raising. In 1888 he sold his Shorthorn cattle and began breeding fine thoroughbred horses.

On the 8th of September, 1874, Mr. Taylor married Miss Theola Farnsworth, who was born January 26, 1853, in Washington County, Ohio. Their union has been blessed with seven children: Anna L., born February 27, 1876; Chloe C., born July 1, 1878; Cora L., born May 28, 1881; Ida A., born February 11, 1883; John Garvey, born September 24, 1884; Jennie D., born August 2, 1888; and Thomas B., born July 3, 1891. The parents of Mrs. Taylor are Abel R. and Cynthia Ann (Sprague) Farnsworth, the former of German, and the latter of Scotch-Irish, descent. They are still living in Blue Mound at a ripe old age. Their family numbered nine children, of whom Mrs. Taylor was sixth in order of birth.

In politics, Mr. Taylor is a stanch Republican, and is one of the leading citizens of the community. He now lives on the old homestead, which his father entered from the Government in 1836. He is recognized as one of the leading farmers and horse-breeders of the county. He has a wide acquaintance throughout central Illinois, and by all who know him is held in high regard for his gentlemanly qualities, his many excellencies of character and his sterling worth. He well deserves representation among the pioneers of his native county.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Macon Co., IL, 1893 - p. 256-257

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Col. James W. Thornill, a well-known and popular citizen of Harristown Township, is a farmer and auctioneer. A native of Kentucky, he was born in Grant County July 19, 1824, and is a son of Reuben Thornhill, who was born and reared in Virginia. When a young man of eighteen he went to Kentucky, and was there married to Sally Musleman, who was also born in the Old Dominion. Upon a farm in the State of his adoption, Mr. Thornhill reared his family and spent his entire life, dying at the age of seventy-four years.

The educational privileges of our subject were quite limited. He remained with his parents until after their deaths, and then purchased the old home farm, which he operated until 1857. In that year he sold out and removed to Butler County, Ohio. In Hamilton he purchased an hotel, which he carried on until 1865, when he disposed of that property and emigrated Westward. Locating in Blue Mound Township, Macon County, the Colonel rented land and engaged in farming. The farm upon which he now resides was purchased in 1886. Since locating thereon he has made many excellent improvements, which add greatly to the value and attractive appearance of the place. When a young man of eighteen years he began crying sales, and throughout his entire life has served as an auctioneer. He is now considered one of the best auctioneers in Macon County.

Mr. Thornhill was married in Ohio, November 6, 1856, the lady of his choice being Martha E. Lewis, a native of Butler County, Ohio, and daughter of James Lewis, one of the early settlers of that county. Her grandfather, Andrew Lewis, was one of the pioneers of the State. When he went to Ohio an old fort stood on the site of Cincinnati, and when he went to the neighborhood where he settled he made his way by blazing trees. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill were born seven children. Edward is married and follows farming; David O. is married and is a resident farmer of Illini Township; Clyde W. aids in the operation of the home farm. They lost four children; Josie, who died at the age of eighteen; May Belle, at the age of fifteen; Minnie, at the age of nineteen; and Maria, when three years of age.

Col. Thornhill was a member of the State militia in Kentucky. He cast his first Presidential vote in Covington, Ky., supporting Henry Clay, and since that time has been an advocate of the Democracy. Himself and wife are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and are people whose many excellencies of character have gained for them high regard. The Colonel is a pleasant, genial gentleman, and through his service as auctioneer he has formed a wide acquaintance.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Macon Co., IL, 1893 - p.549-550

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Judge Anthony Thornton was born in Bourbon county, Kentucky, on the ninth of November, 1814. He is descended from an English family. His great-great-grandfather emigrated from England to Virginia. In Caroline county, of the Old Dominion, members of the family lived for two or three generations. His father, Anthony Thornton, was born in that county, was raised there, and married Mary Towles, a native of the same county, and also connected with an old Virginia family. In the year of 1807, Judge Thornton's father and grandmother removed from Virginia to Kentucky. The colony, including the members of the family and the negro servants, numbered in all ninety-nine persons. On their arrival in Kentucky, they settled in Bourbon county, where his parents resided till their death.

The early year of Judge Thornton's life were spent in his native county. He first attended the common schools. At the age of fourteen or fifteen he was sent to a high school at Gallatin, Tennessee, where he remained two years. He then entered Centre College at Danville, Kentucky, and subsequently became a student in Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, from which he graduated in the fall of 1834. He studied law at Paris, Kentucky, in the office of an uncle, John R. Thornton, and was licensed to practice by the Kentucky Court of Appeals before he was twenty-two. In October, 1836, he passed through Illinois, on his way to Missouri; he intended to make his home in the latter state. Stopping at Shelbyville, to visit some relatives, he concluded to give up his project of settling in Missouri and establish himself in the practice of the law at Shelbyville. In November, 1836, he opened an office. He was favored with success from the very start, and during the first year had as much business as he cared to attend to in the courts of Shelby and adjoining counties. In those days all the lawyers of any prominence traveled twice a year over the circuit. A company of ten or fifteen generally made the round together, and their social habits commonly made the journey far from an umpleasant one. Law-books were scarce; only a few text-books were in existence, and the reports were meager in comparison with the great numbers which now crowd the shelves of every legal library. The young lawyer was in consequence compelled to thoroughly understand the principles of law and adapt his fact to them--a training which produced able and ready lawyers. Judge Thornton's progress was rapid. He soon obtained a high standing at the bar, and was usually retained in all cases of importance. He practiced by himself till 1858. He resided at Shelbyville till November, 1879, when he became a resident of Decatur. He is now a member of the law-firm of Thornton, Eldridge & Hostetler, at Decatur.

He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1848, which framed the second constitution of the State of Illinois. In 1850 he was elected a member of the Sixteenth General Assembly. At that time the questions connected with the building of railroads through the state assumed great importance, and Judge Thornton, though a whig, was sent to the legislature from a democratic district, as a warm friend of the railroads, and in favor of the state granting the lands given by the general government to build the Illinois Central Railroad to private individuals who should undertake the construction of the road, instead of the state itself. In 1862, he was elected a member of the constitutional convention which held its sessions in the winter of 1862-3. During the rebellion he occupied the position of a wor-democrat, and in various speeches sustained the government in its efforts to break down the rebellion and preserve the Union. In the autumn of 1864 he was elected to the Thirty-ninth Congress, and took his seat in March 1865, just as the war was being brought to a close. He was appointed a member of the committee on claims, and performed much arduous labor, the committee being obliged to report on a vast number of claims presented immediately after the close of the war. He was renoinated, but, though his election would have been beyond question, he declined becoming a candidate, preferring to practice his profession. He served on the supreme bench of Illinois from July, 1870, to June, 1873. During that period the supreme court had before it an immense amount of business, which required uninterruped and laborious attention. Litigation was then at its height. The dockets were enormously large, and the position of supreme judge involved an immemse amount of continuous labor. He resigned to resume his practice.

It is scarcely necessary to speak of Judge Thornton's characteristics as a lawyer, for his name has long been familiar to the bar of this state. His great industry has made him thoroughly acquainted with the learning of the law, and his natural abilities long since gave him a commanding position in his profession. A strong liking for legal work, and especially for the trial of a case in court, has made the practice of the law, to him, a pleasant and congenial occupation. He has great strength as an advocate. While on the supreme bench, he was regarded as one of its ablest members. He was first married, in 1850, to Mildred Thornton, who died in 1856. His marriage to Kate Smith, of Shelby county, occurred in 1866. He has had four children, of whom three are lving.

History of Macon Co., Illinois1880 - p.138

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Andrew J. THRIFT

Among the prominent and substantial farmers of Maroa township, stands the name of the subject of this sketch. He was born in Christian county, Kentucky, October 19th, 1815. Samuel Magruder Thrift, his father, was a native of Fairfax county, Virginia. The Thrift family were originally from England, and came to America prior to the Revolutionary war. The grandfather, Charles Thrift, was a soldier in that memorable struggle for independence. Samuel M. Thrift moved to Kentucky in 1811, and settled in Christian county, where he remained till 1831, when he removed to Illinois, and settled in St. Clair county. He died in Washington county, Illinois, September 3d, 1872.He married Sarah (Fleming) Cowan. She was a native of South Carolina. By this marriage there were eight children; six daughters and two sons. Two of the children have survived the parents,--the subject of this sketch, and Elvina D. Andrew J. spent his youthful days upon the farm, and in the winter seasons attended the subscription schools of his neighborhood. He acquired the rudiments of an education. To this, he has, in later years, added a fund of information by extensive reading, and close observation of men and incidents as they transpire; and is to-day well posted on past and current events. Being of a modest disposition he makes no pretences to superior knowledge, but in a quiet, sensible way impresses his hearers with the idea that he is a man of more than ordinary intelligence. While a resident of St. Clair county he followed the occupation of a farmer. He remained there until March 1st, 1864, when he came to Macon county, and purchased land in sec. 36, T. 18, R. 2 E. He first purchased a quarter-section, to which he has since added until now he has a large farm, and all under the best cultivation, as well improved as any in the township. On the 8th of January, 1835, he was united in marriage to Minera Jane Hawkins. She was a native of St. Clair county, and the daughter of Marshal B. and Elizabeth (Woods) Hawkins. Her parents were natives of Kentucky. Mrs. Thrift died, January 10th, 1851. There were born to Mr. and Mrs. Thrift seven children--three sons and four daughters. Five of them are yet living. Their names are, Isabel L., wife of Charles L. Marker; Minerva Jane, wife of Gustavus M. Bower, William A., Samuel M., and James P. Thrift. Sarah E., wife of George B. Short, and Emily E. are dead. On the 4th of September, 1851, Mr. Traft (sic) married Anna C. Peter. She was born in Carlisle, Cumberland county, Pa., but was a resident of St. Cair county at the time of her marriage. By the union there have been nine children--four boys and five girls. Five of the children are still living. Those deceased died in infancy. The names of those living are, Douglas A., Alonzo M., Charles A., Mary L., and Grace Truman. The last four are yet beneath the parental roof. All of the children, with one exception, are living in the neighborhood of the old homestead. Mrs. Thrift is a member of the Baptist Church. Politically Mr. Thrift is a Jeffersonian democrat, and a profound believer in the political principles as expounded by that eminent statesman. He cast his first presidential vote for Andrew Jackson, and since that time has kept the faith, and remained true to the party of his first choice. He is not, however, a politician in the strict sense of the word, only so far as to express his sentiments and preferences through the right of suffrage. In his private life he is above reproach, and where-ever known is regarded as an upright and honorable gentleman.

History of Macon Co., Illinois, 1880 - p. 168

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Aquilla TOLAND

Aquilla Toland, a former resident of Austin township, was a native of Ohio. His father, Dr. Toland, was born in the state of Maryland, emigrated to Ohio at an early day and settled in Madison county, where he resided for a number of years until his death in December, 1866. He practiced medicine nearly half a century in that part of Ohio. He was a man of great enterprise and public spirit, and contributed greatly to the development and improvement of the locality in which he lived. Elizabeth Lewis, Mr. Toland's mother, was of Irish descent, and born in Madison county, Ohio, and belonged to one of the pioneer families of that state. Aqulla Toland was born at London, Madison county, Ohio, on the fourth day of July, 1840. He was the youngest of a family of four children. His boyhood was spent in his native county. He had excellent opportunities for academy at London. His father desired that he should enter one of the professions, but he preferred an out-door life. His inclinations ran in the firection of farming and stock-raising.

On the breaking out of the war of the rebellion he was one of the first men to offer his services to the government in Madison county. He was then not yet twenty-one years of age. On the 19th of April, 1861, he enlisted under the three months call for troops in Co. C, Seventeenth regiment Ohio Volunteers. He was chosen orderly sergeant of his company. His term of service having expired he re-enlisted in Co. A, One Hundred and Thirteenth Ohio regiment. On the fifth of February, 1863, Gov. Tod commissioned him second lieutenant. During the sickness of the captain of the company, who was his brother-in-law, he commanded the company for nearly a year. While a member of the Seventeenth Ohio regiment he served in West Virginia, and while with the One Hundred and Thirteenth Ohio, in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, taking part in several battles among which were those of Mission Ridge, Shiloh, and the siege of Vicksburg.

After the close of his service in the army he returned to Ohio. In 1865 he came to Macon county with the purpose of improving a large track of land in Austin township. At that time few improvements had been made on the prairie of that part of the county. He was married on the fourth of November, 1868, to Lydia A. Smith, daughter of Edward O. Smith, one of the old residents of Decatur. In 1870 Mr. and Mrs. Toland took up their residence in Austin township on the farm, which consists of thirteen hundred and fifty [1350] acres, and lies in sections thirty-one and thirty-two. Since her husband's death, which occurred on the 15th of February, 1878, the farm has been under Mrs. Toland's management. Mr. Toland was a republican in politics. He possessed strong convictions on all subjects, was charitable and generous in his disposition, and steadfast and devoted in his attachments. He was a man of the highest personal honor, and his word could always be relied on. He had excellent business capacity, was active and energetic, and among the foremost to lead in public improvements in his part of the county.

History of Macon Co. Illinois, 1880 - p.227

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The subject of this sketch was born, August 26th, 1844, near the little village of Wilkesville, Vinton county, Ohio. At the age of four years his father removed to Columbia township, Meigs county, where young Trainer was brought up. Settling as his father did in his wild forest home, his sons grew up in the 'clearing,' and were thoroughly inured to the hardships of the very severest farm labor. Mr. Trainer well remembers what it is 'to pick brush, to grub, to chop, to maul rails, to roll logs and to plow' day after day. Thus situated, he did not have much opportunity for acquiring knowledge in the school-room. After he was old enough to do any kind of work on the farm he was allowed to attend school a short time, in mid-winter or 'of rainy days.' By the time that he had reached his majority he had made up his mind to try and get an education; accordingly, he 'went to the furnace,' and hauled wood and worked in the 'coaling' in order to secure means to buy books and for the purpose of attending school. As soon as this was accomplished he entered Ewington Academy, and remained in his classes one year; his funds failing he procured a teacher's certificate and taught school one year in Vinton county. He then attended Atwood Institute, Albany, Athens county, another year; then taught and attended this institution of learning till he obtained, what might be termed, a good academic education. In 1869 he came to Illinois and stopped with Mr. Jesse Lockheart, of Niantic, as a farm hand. Mr. L., learning that he was a teacher, persuaded him to take a school in the fall of that year, instead of going to Missouri, as he intended. He procured a school in the Dingman district, and has taught in this county continuously to the present. In 1877 he was elected to the office of County Superintendent of schools for Macon county, by a large majority, and has successfully filled this office, three of the four years for which he was elected, his term expiring in 1881.

Mr. Trainer is what he has made himself--an industrious, practical man, a man of few theories; but when he has one he invariably puts it to the practical test.

History of Macon Co., Illinois, 1880 - p. 154

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ALLEN TRAVIS, was born May 18, 1789 in York District, South Carolina. In 1805 his father removed with the family to Livingston County, Ky., where Allen was married, October 5, 1820, to Margaret Campbell, who was born March 5, 1801. They removed to Wayne county, Illinois, perhaps in the spring of 1821, and to Macon County in March, 1829, in company with his brothers Finis and Thomas, James D. Campbell, Andres and John Davidson. Mrs. Travis died some five or six years ago. Of their children - John B. was born January 9, 1823, in Wayne County, Illinois. James D.C.l was born March 7, 1825, In Wayne County, Illinois. Presely A. was born April 24, 1827, in Wayne County, Illinois. Rebecca was born February 24, 1829, in Sangamon County, Ill. William H. was born March 30, 1831 in Macon County Ill, Elizabeth J. was born May 23, 1834, in Macon County, Ill; died January 3, 1863. Samuel H. was born September 14, 1836, in Macon County Ill.; died January 9, 1863. ULYSSES D. was born March 5, 1839 , in Macon County, Ill.; died April 27, 1863. Margaret Z. was born February 3, 1841, in Macon County, Illinois. Thomas C. was born March 23, 1844, in Macon County, Ill.

THOMAS TRAVIS was born in South Carolina, and was married before removing to Illinois, to Sarah Davidson, and settle one and a half miles northwest of Mt. Zion.

FINIS TRAVIS was born in Kentucky, in 1810, in what is now Crittenden County, and was married in 1840 to Nancy J. Foster, who was then the widow of Wm. Foster, maiden name Bell. She died, and he married a second time to Nancy Mahollen. Both are now dead.

HARVEY TRAVIS was born in Wayne County, Illinois, in 1823, and removed with the family to Macon County in 1830 . In 1851 he married Elizabeth Cox, who died in 1862, and he married a second time to Harriet M. F. Campbell; now resides in Decatur.

From History of Macon County from its Organization to 1876, by John W. Smith Esq., of the Macon County Bar

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