Eli Ulery, an old and respected citizen of Mt. Zion Township, was born in Washington County, Pa., November 20, 1817. and is the son of Stephen and Christiana (Conkle) Ulery, both natives of Pennsylvania, but of German descent. Both died in that State many years ago. The mother was a member of the German Baptist Church.
Eli Ulery was reared in his native State, and until twenty years of age remained upon the home farm. His education was obtained in the typical log sclioolhouse, with its puncheon floor, greased paper window lights, and mammoth fireplace. Here for a few months he strove to master the "three R's," and laid the foundation for the more practical education received from reading and contact with men. In 1841 he came to Illinois, and for the next ten years engaged in buying, feeding and driving cattle to the Eastern markets, without permanently locating at any point. But in the fall of 1850 he was united in marriage, near Springfield, Ill., with Miss Mary E. Dillon, daughter of Joshua Dillon, one of the pioneers of Sangamon County. This step necessitated the selection of a future home, so in the spring of 1851 he purchased six hundred acres of land in Mt. Zion Township, Macon County, to which he at once moved. Here a family of six children was born, three of whom are yet living: Eli S., residing on the old homestead; Donna, now the wife of Charles M. Fletcher, of Mt. Zion Township; and Gertie, now the wife of W.S. Smith, of Decatur.
On his removal to this county Mr. Ulery, in addition to the management of his farm, continued in the stock business, and did not fully abandon it until 1882, when he divided a portion of his property among his children, and has since lived a retired life, spending the summers in Colorado, where he owned property until 1892. During the present summer (1893) he has spent much of his time in Chicago, being a frequent visitor to the great Columbian Exposition. With sufficient of this world's goods to satisfy his demands, he takes life easy, and is determined to make the most of his remaining years. Few men are better known in Macon and adjoining counties than Eli Ulery, and none are held in greater respect. Originally a Democrat, on account of his anti-slavery views he united with the Republican party on its organization, and has since affiliated with that party. Never aspiring for office, he has held only a few minor positions, but yet takes an active interest in what concerns his adopted county and State, as well as the nation at large. Mrs. Ulery died in 1864. She was a lady of excellent worth, and a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. When Mr. Ulery settled in Macon County, Decatur was but a mere village and settlements were only along the streams and in the timber. How great the change! A house upon every square mile, many thriving villages and one of the most enterprising cities in the State. In its growth and development, he has done well his part.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Macon Co., IL, pg. 672-673
Eli S. ULERY
One of the most prominent and wealthy citizens of Macon county whose life has been devoted to agricultural pursuits is the gentleman whose name initiates this review. He was born in Mount Zion township on the 12th of December, 1862, his parents being Eli and Mary E. (Dillon) Ulery. The mother, who died at the early age of twenty-eight years, was a native of Illinois and a daughter of Joshua Dillon, a well known stockdealer and prominent citizen of Mount Zion. Out subjects father was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and on coming to Illinois in 1836 settled in the village of Mount Zion, but four years later removed to a farm on section 2, Mount Zion township, which he had purchased and which continued to be his home throughout the remainder of his life. He was a very successful farmer and accumulated a vast amount of property although he began life for himself with a capital of only twelve dollars. Industrious, persevering and enterprising, he steadily worked his way upward until he was one of the most prosperous men of his community. During his active business life he gave considerable attention to stock and in early days drove his cattle across the country to the New York markets. As he acquired any capital he invested it in new land and in his speculations he prospered. In politics he was an ardent Republican. He died in December, 1897, at the age of eighty-two years, honored and respected by all who knew him. He had four brothers, all of whom remained in Pennsylvania, and all are now deceased.
Eli S. Ulery began his education in the common schools of Mount Zion and at the age of fourteen years entered the Christian Brothers College at St. Louis, Missouri. Immediately after leaving that institution he went to Colorado, where he enjoyed the novel experiences of a cowboy in the Green Horn mountains between Trinidad and Pueblo for four years. At the age of eighteen he returned home and has since engaged in farming, the buying and selling of horses and the shipping of stock. In 1886 he took charge of six hundred and forty acres, and has since added to his property from time to time until he is now the owner of eleven hundred and eighty acres, most of which is under a high state of cultivation and well improved.
On the10th of March, 1885, Mr. Ulery was united in marriage to Miss Fannie Gibson Bell, a daughter of Andrew and Lucy Bell, of Mount Zion, and five children bless this union, namely: Bernard B., Simon K., Mona G., Earl A., Mary I.
In 1901 Mr. Ulery purchased forty acres of land of S.S. Bilby in the northern part of Mount Zion township and has converted a portion of it into picnic and pleasure grounds at a considerable cost, naming the place Woodbine. Here he has erected an artistic log cabin, in which he and his family spend the mid-summer days; has made a beautiful artificial lake; built a pavilion, has scattered rustic seats throughout the grounds, which are ornamented by fountains, urns and beautiful flowers. The lake is about twenty-four feet in depth and on it is run a naphtha launch. Mr. Ulery is very fond of sports of all kinds and takes especial delight in fishing, making trips for this purpose into Louisiana, Missouri and Arkansas. He is also interested in a fish pond one-half mile south of Mount Zion, the other owners being Alexander Scott, W.S. Smith, W.C. Smith and T.C. Stoner, Jr. In politics he is a Republican but is not active in political affairs. He is a typical American citizen, thoroughly up-to-date and progressive, and his pleasant genial manners make him quite popular socially, while in business affairs he is prompt, reliable and energetic.
Past And Present of the City of Decatur and Macon County, Illinois, 1903, p. 341-342
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