|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
The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois US GenWeb page is
[email protected] Personal Web Site: home.midwest.net/~cbconly
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Crook and Cindy Birk
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