White County, Illinois

In the fall of 1998 I did a couple of genealogy programs on behalf of the White County Historical Society.  I thought people researching our county might be interested in my outlines.

1.   Colonel     Everton     Judson    Conger--born    in     Ohio     in     1835, dentist--enlisted  in  Civil War  and raised company of which  he  became  Captain and   later   Lt.  Colonel--this  was  Ohio   and   W.Va.   company--suffered several   injuries  and  was  assigned  to  District of Columbia work--went   with   General  Baker,  his  old  commander, who was then head  of  the  United  States  detective  service  and Lt. Doughtery and twenty  men  under  Conger's command  to  capture  John Wilkes.  Booth--they found  him  in  a  barn--Conger threatened   to  burn  it  and  finally  started  a  fire,  and   a   Sergeant Corbett  wounded  Booth who died on the porch of  a  house  nearby. Conger  had  to sue for a piece of the reward and later  made  speeches about  his  role,  although never cashed in on  publicity.   In  1869  Col. Conger  moved  to  Carmi where his brother  Chauncey  S.  Conger  was already   an   attorney  and  had  been  in  state  legislature   and   held county  office.  Was  admitted to bar in 1871 but  soon  elected  police magistrate  until  in 1880 he was appointed to federal  bar  in  Montana Territory.   Supposedly  used  funds  from  reward  to  build  house  on Main  street,  now owned by Brian and Holly Kirkpatrick. My  friend  Jim Odam  says  that  this is not true, that the house  was  financed  by  his gggrandfather, Capt. Adam Miller, an early banker.  Did not live in this house for long, and  was  not  a  judge for very long--appears  that  he  had  substance  abuse  problems,  probably  relating to civil war injuries.  The  law  firm   started    by    Chauncey    Conger   and    Colonel    John    Montgomery Crebs--related  through  Stewart wives--is still operational as  Conger  and Elliott,  P.C..  Chauncey  Conger was later  a  judge.   John  Montgomery  Crebs,  law  partner of the Congers, was a Colonel in  the  87th  Illinois  Volunteers,  raised  in  Carmi, and his family  built  what are now the  Fountains  mansion,  Stanley   house   and   Campbell  funeral  home  on   Main   street.   Col.  Conger  finally died in Hawaii, where he was living with  his  daughter   and  son-in-law, shortly after the daughter's death. Members  of  that   law  firm  included  Ivan  A.  Elliott Sr..,  who  was  Illinois  attorney  general  when   Adili  Stevenson  was  governor,  and  Ivan  A.  Elliott  Jr.,   better   known  as  Johnny,  who  was  on  the  board  of  SIU  and  a   respected  attorney  in  Southern Illinois--has done a lot of  teaching  on  trusts and the like.

2.   Yerby   Land  and  J.  Robert  Smith--nice  article  on  Yerby   in   1883 history--J.   Robert   largely   responsible  for   historical   society,   blue county  history, lots of other writings--left beautiful house  on  main street--perhaps    too    much   emphasis   on   Big   Prairie    settlers    and Hawthorne  twp--Yerby's parents were robert and Lucy Fike  Land,  came to  Kentucky in 1809 and went scouting in Illinois that fall--next month came  back to  find  Thomas  Gray  living  at  site  south  of  Carmi  and  they   were partners  for  ten  months  until  Gray  went  in  1810  to  Bonpas  creek, which  is  now Grayville. Land's prominent around Big  Prairie  church and  down  to  Union Ridge, an early Presbyterian church  and  the  prettiest part of White County.

3.   Rep.   James   Robert  Williams--Burnt   Prairie   native--parents   came about   1820--he  was  born  1851--attended  University  of   Indiana   and Union  College  of  Law  in  Chicago--built  Castle,  house  across   from courthouse    designed    by    George   Franklin    barber    very    unique structure--lots  of  William's  in  county--county  judge  when  current courthouse  built  in  1883--also  responsible  for  lack  of  courthouse square,   by  trading  land  for  a  school  for  part  of  square   which  adjoined  his wife's family land--Shannons and Readys--US rep from  about 1890  to  1905--big campaigner for William Jennings Bryan, and  got  him to stop in Carmi during 1896 campaign. Died in California  in 1923--had car dealership  at  the  time--family big in oil in 1930s--2 sons,  one  of  which wife Claire, lived in Castle until about 1969, when she started trying to sell it--owned whole section of land in Carmi twp, recently purchased by  Henry  Absher--this  is where Claire's son died about  a  month  after Claire in 1989.

4.   Patrick  Dolan, Margaret Davis Land and  Enfield--might  mention Telitha Catherine Harrell Dartt, last "real daughter" of a revolutionary war veteran in Illinois--mention St.    Patrick's    church    settlement,   Enfield,    Seven    Mile    Prairie--Ann Rutledge--family    come   just   after   1815   and   left   about   1826  for Sangamon  co.--Dolan first came to Enfield area about 1839  and  went back  and  forth between Enfield, Evansville and  Cincinnati--attracted  other Catholics  to  the  area--Dolan, described as witty  and  eloquent,  was auctioneer when Enfield was platted and later served in Illinois legislature in  1870's.  Both  church-area settlement and  Enfield  itself  were  badly damaged   by  the  1925  tornado,  which  went  all  the  way   through Southern  Illinois  to  Griffin,  Indiana. The  Hanagan  family  had their house  blown  away  but they were okay. Mention William  H.  Borah,  a Wayne  County.  Native,  who  went to school  at  the  Enfield  College  and later became US Senator from Idaho, known as the Lion of Idaho.

5.   Ira  Shain  and  Carl  Shelton  and  Norris  City--early  settlers   to Seven  Mile  and  Village and Lick Creek did not have towns,  just  a  few churches, an occasional store or mill as center of community--Norris City   and  other  towns,  such  as  Roland,  Sacramento,  and   Gossett, which  was founded  when  the railroad  came  through  in  1870s--lots  of migration  to  MIssouri--these  two men are genealogists  of  great  note--Ira lived from 1871 to 1971--got into genealogy when he was about 80.  His research  is a bit hard to follow and needs more sourcing,  but  great for    time.    Have    been    arranged    into    booklets    at    Norris   City library--Kinsall,   Pearce,   Millspaugh,  Bruce,  Shain,  are   some   of   the  names.  Carl  Shelton  and  wife Lois  worked  on  genealogy  for  many years--Pearce  book  out, big database on computer.  Carl did a  lot  on census   transcriptions,   including   1920,   both   helped   on   Harriet's cemetery work and such. Harriett Vaught did transcriptions of marriages and cemeteries and a probate index.

6.   James Ratcliff--Old Beaver--born in Virginia--was county clerk and such--postmaster  for a time, circuit clerk, too--from 1818 to  1848,  and his old inn formerly housed our genealogy library--building was also  catalyst for   historical  society--A.  Lincoln  stayed  at  Ratcliff  Inn  during   1840 whig campaign tour. Granddaughter was Mrs. Frank E. Hay--Frank was  mayor in 1880s and owner of Hay and Webb bank, which went under in 1893.  This  was the Patty Webb who sat on Lincoln's lap on  trip  to  Mt. Carmel--the Historical Society owns the silver drinking cup she shared with Lincoln.

7.   Sen.  James  M.  Robinson--son  in  law  of  James  Ratcliff--born.  In  1794  in Scott  Co., KY--his brother James F. Robinson was governor  of  KY--came to  Carmi in 1818, and was immediately appointed by the governor of  Illinois as   prosecuting   attorney   for  this  district--in  January   1831   elected   by legislature  as  US Senator, to fill an unexpired  term--was  reelected  in 1834, which expired in 1843, when he was appointed as us district  court judge  for northern IL--caught cold on first trip around  the  district and  died two months later at Ottawa. His cape is on display at  Ratcliff, and  we have his home as museum--granddaughter gave it to  us  when she  died in 1966. She was Miss Mary Jane Stewart, the last person  buried in old city graveyard, which the historical society now owns.

8.   Solomon  Charles--Calvin and Phillipstown founder--left lots  of descendants--married   three   times,   to   cousins--Cliffords,    Driggers, Cross are   some  lines--had  big  ideas--people  settled  in  Phillipstown   area between  1809  and 1812, but village destroyed by fire in 1871.  It  was  an early  stage  stop,  but was missed by railroad. Solomon came  in  1816  per  White County. History,  and  was  living in 1883--Lincoln was  supposed  to  have  come there in 1855 and had supper with them.

9.   James  Gray of Grayville--came there about 1810--family built  Gray mansion    in    1890s--work    of    George    Franklin    Barber--like    Carmi Castle--most   all   left   county  to  get   more   education   and   funds allowed them to be part of high society. Thomas Gray is James brother. James  came  to  Carmi  in 1817 and went a few  years  later  to  Grayville with brother-in-law Robert Walden.

10.  John   Brown  and  watermelons--Hawthorne  twp--lots   of   rich farmers  here--good  place  to  look  for  families--Williams  and  Millers and  Browns--people  moved  into Emma and  Hawthorne  in  1920s--  for many  years  sold melons from stands in east Carmi and east  of  town.  David  Brown  is his descendent--David is now selling green  beans  and commercial   truck   farming.   John   Brown  did  a   lot   of   work   on crossbreeding.  He had a cousin Jasper Brown that  sold  watermelons on highway 460/14 out of a wagon hauled by oxen, and that was a big drawing card. There was also commercial apple production in  Herald area  but  it  has pretty much gone out, except  for  Barefoot  McGehee, which is a nice excuse to drive up to Herald and see the Union Ridge area.

11.  Rebstocks--John  I  and John II were original settlers to  Bt..  Prairie twp--German    emigrants    from    Baden--lots    of    family,    and    very prominent--three  sons,  Ray,  Bud, Clem--in Carmi.  Came to  White  Co.  In 1840s.  Big in oil business, motel and coffee shop, one--Bud,  I  think--was mayor. The first Catholic Mass in the Carmi area was celebrated in their home.   Their descendants  include  the  Drone family which owns  the  Carmi  radio stations, WROY and WRUL, and  Rebstock Oil.

12.  Orlando  Burrell--was  Carmi  mayor  in  1880s,  US  Congressman    from  1905  to 1909--then mayor again--lived a  very  long  life--donated wooded area to city and $9000 to keep it up as city park.

13.  Roy  Clippinger--US Congressman from 1948 to  1956  or  so--actually started WROY,  but  also  owned  newspaper  and  was  forced   to   sell broadcasting   outlet--Velda  Pumroy  Clippinger  Ames  was  editor   of paper  for many years--got Harry Truman to stop in Carmi  during  1948 campaign.   Another famous White County politician is Glen Poshard, who is  a  native  of Herald area--was teacher for a long time--then got in politics--10  years in   US  Congress,  and  just  ran  for  governor.   Both   guys   were/are conservative democrats.


The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois US GenWeb page is

 Cindy Birk Conley
Personal Web Site: home.midwest.net/~cbconly


Created by Laurel Crook, 05 Aug 1998

Copyright ©1998, 1999, 2000 by Laurel Crook  and  Cindy Birk Conley, all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.