James D. Van Gundy is a retired farmer residing at No. 995 West Marietta street in Decatur. He was born in Scott county, Illinois, on the 26th of September, 1855, a son of John and Sarah (Scobey) Van Gundy, who were also natives of Scott county, where the father carried on farming until 1873, at which time he removed to Macon county, purchasing a farm in Milam township. There he carried on agricultural pursuits until 1896, when he removed to Decatur and has since lived a retired life save that he has some financial interests and is now the vice president of the Macon County Telephone Company. He is a prominent and well known citizen of Decatur and with his family resides at No. 1357 North Water street. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Van Gundy were born nine children, of whom seven are now living.

At the usual age James D. Van Gundy began his education as a student in the public schools of his native county and when he had mastered the branches of learning therein taught he put aside his text books and turned his attention to agricultural pursuits in Scott county. As a companion and helpmate for the journey of life he chose Miss Frances E. Cowle, their marriage being celebrated in Shelby county, Illinois. The lady is a native of Madison county, this state, born on the 12th of September, 1853, and is a daughter of Daniel and Rosa Anna (Fanning) Cowle, the former born on the Isle of Man, while the latter was a native of New Jersey. For a number of years they resided in Madison county, Illinois, where the father engaged in farming and in 1865 they removed to Shelby county, this state, where Mr. Cowle carried on agricultural pursuits until his death. His wife also died in the same county.

After his marriage Mr. Van Gundy engaged in farming in Shelby county for a year and then removed to Moweaqua, Illinois, where he was engaged in the manufacture of tile for a year. He next took up his abode in Kansas, where he carried on agricultural pursuits for one year. On the expiration of one year he returned to his native state and settled in Milam township, Macon county, purchasing a tract of land in section 13. With characteristic energy he began its cultivation and development and continued there to engage in general farming until 1903, when he removed to the city of Decatur in order that he might live a retired life here. He still owns, however, a farm of two hundred acres of valuable land in Milam township and the rental therefrom brings him a good income. He is also the owner of a nice residence at No. 995 West Marietta street, where he and his family are living. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Van Gundy have been born two children: Charles E., who is employed by the Weare Manufacturing Company of Decatur; and Florence Lillian, at home. The Van Gundy family is a prominent and well known one in Macon county and the subject of this review has a wide acquaintance and the esteem of all with whom he has been brought in contact. In politics he has always been a Democrat, but has never sought or desired office, preferring to devote his time and energies to his business affairs, in which he has met with creditable success.

Past and Present of Decatur and Macon County, pub. 1903, pg. 883-884

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William VAN LEER

The Van Leer family on the paternal side, came from Holland. The name was originally Von Lohr. Bernhardus Von Lohr came to America in 1697. He settled in Philadelphia three years after William Penn had found the colony. The descendants from Bernhardus are not numerous. On the maternal side the great-grandmother was of the Wayne family of Chester county, Pennsylvania, of which General Anthony Wayne of revolutionary fame was a member. Isaac Wayne Van Leer, the father of the subject of this sketch, is a native of Chester county, Pennsylvania. He married Phoebe Ann Speakman, of Chester county. She is a descendant of a long line of Quaker preachers, running back into the Wayne family. There were seven children born to Isaac W. and Phoebe A. Van Leer, three sons and four daughters. William A. is the fourth in the family. He was born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, April 21st, 1834.

He received a good education in the common schools of Chester county, and also spent four years in the academies at Fremont and New London Cross-roads in Chester county. After he attained his majority in the spring of 1855, he came west, and settled in Macon county, Illinois. In August 1862 he enlisted in Co. "D" 116th Reg. Ills. Vols. He remained in the service until 1863, when he was discharged on account of ill-health and physical disability. On the 16th of March, 1864, he was united in marriage to Miss Josephine L. Colladay, a native of Philadelphia, but a resident of Macon county at the time of her marriage. Five children living have blessed this union, all of whom are yet beneath the parental roof.

Politically, Mr. Van Leer has always voted the republican ticket. At present he is supervisor of his township. He is one of the representative and leading agriculturists of the county, and enjoys the confidence and respect of all who know him.

History of Macon Co, Illinois, 1880 - p. 198

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