Woodford County Biographies

The biographies in this section were transcribed from:

"From Past and Present of Woodford County, Illinois (Wm. Le Baron, Jr. & Co., 1878)"

"Portrait and Biographical Album of Woodford County, Illinois (1889)"

 "The Biographical Record of Livingston and Woodford Counties, Illinois (1900)"

and "Montana, its Story and Biography" (Chicago: American Historical Society, 1921)



If you are looking for the Surname beginning with the letter:


The Past and Present of Woodford County Illinois 1878

McCord, Thos. Alfred, retired farmer; P.O. Roanoke; was born in Overton Co., Tenn., May 30, 1809. He married Miss Sarah Ann Arnold. She was born in Franklin Co., Ky., June 13, 1818, and married Dec. 2, 1840; had four children, two living; both married. He lived in Tennessee until he was 18, then moved with his parents to McLean Co., Ill.; remained there four years; then, in 1831, came to Panther Grove; now in Woodford Co. with his parents. They engaged in farming. His father was born in North Carolina, and died in 1852. His mother was born in South Carolina, and died in 1871. Her maiden name was McMurtrey. In 1877, he moved to Roanoke. In 1832, he volunteered to fight Black Hawk. He procured his marriage license at Bloomington, there being no Woodford Co. then; has been Township Assessor, Road Commissioner and School Director. Came to the county in poor circumstances.


Transcribed and donated by Amy Robbins-Tjaden

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The Past and Present of Woodford County, Illinois (1878)
Meek, Joseph; farmer; P.O., Eureka; was born in Fayette County, Ky., June 7, 1797; is the son of Bazel and Ellen (Roberts) Meek; with his parents they moved to Indiana and settled in Jennings County, where he remained until 1830; in Spring of 1830, with his wife and four children, they started for Illinois in a wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen, and arrived and settled in Woodford County on the place that he now lives on ; he built him a log cabin soon after he arrived, which stood until the Spring of 1875, and was destroyed by fire; when Mr Meek first came here, he was worth about $740; he invested in farming land, and with success and good management, he was at one time worth 1,340 acres of fine farm; and to-day owns 240 acres of improved land; Mr Meek has held several offices of public trust; was one of the first County Commissioners of Woodford County,which office he held for six years, also held the office of County Supervisor for one year; is a member of the Christian Church; a Democrat in politics; married twice; his first wife, Uraney Sullivan, of South Carolina, who died Jan. 21, 1848, aged 48 years and nine days; his second wife, Mrs Barbara Shaffer of Va.; born Oct. 10, 1810; children by first wife -- Daniel, Marshall, Ezra and Jessie; by second wife -- Joseph, Mrs Shaffer had three children living when Mr Meek married her -- Elizabeth Jane, Simon and Mary Ann.


Transcribed and donated by Amy Robbins-Tjaden

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The Biographical Record of Livingston and Woodford Counties, Illinois (S.J.Clarke Pub. Co., 1900)

N. R. Moore

Among Roanoke's representative business men and progressive citizens is N. R. Moore, manager of the firm of Bartlett, Frazier & Company, of Chicago. A native of Virginia, he was born near Harrisburg, Rockingham county, January 8, 1865, and is a son of Joseph Moore, now a resident of Roanoke, Illinois. The family came to this state in 1871 and settled in Roanoke, where our subject was educated in the public schools. He commenced his business career as a clerk in the drug store of D. B. Zimmermann, at the age of eighteen years, and there served an apprenticeship of six years, at the end of which time he received a certificate of registration as a pharmacist that he has kept in force up to the present tie. During the following five years he was employed as clerk in the general mercantile establishment of R.A. Peterson, of Roanoke, and for one year was in the grain business for Henry Tropitz, of that place. At the expiration of that time the property was taken possession of by Bartlett, Frazier & Company, of Chicago, and by them Mr. Moore has since been employed as manager. While connected with the drug business he learned telegraphy and has had the management of the Postal Telegraph Company at Roanoke since 1893. He is a wide-awake, energetic business man, and has the entire confidence and esteem of the firms with which he is connected.

On the 16th of June, 1886, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Moore and Miss Lula Upton, of Roanoke, and to them have been born four children: Mabel, born June 20, 1889; Flora, born December 12, 1892; Floyd, born October 29, 1896, and an infant born July 19, 1900. Mr. Moore has ever taken an active interest in public affairs, and has officially served as village clerk two terms and school director for two terms. Socially he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America, and religiously is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Transcribed and donated by Amy Robbins-Tjaden

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The Past and Present of Woodford County Illinois (1878)

Moulton, Isaac, farmer; P.O. Washburn; Liberal; Democrat; owns 120 acres of land, valued at $3,000; born June 26, 1825, in Indiana, near Rising Sun; married Mary J. Hattan Aug. 20, 1849; she was born April 11, 1829; had eleven children, two of whom have died -- Elizabeth, born June 29, 1850, died in six weeks after birth by a stroke of lightening; Sophia, born Aug. 6, 1851; Mary Ellen, born Nov. 27, 1853; William, born March 30, 1856; Vienna, born Jan. 27, 1858, died when 9 months old; Jeremiah, born Sept. 13, 1859; John, born April 1, 1862; Anna, born May 5, 1864.  Mr M. came here before the Black Hawk war; he was 7 years old at the time of that event; he has heard his mother tell of an Indian battle that happened near where the Richland school house now stands; he remembers seeing the troops as they passed through Pleasant Grove.  Mr M. has been a great hunter, and generally killed from twenty-five to forty deer every Winter until about fifteen years ago; he says that the last deer that he killed was eight years ago, in Isaiah Jones' field.

Transcribed and donated by Amy Robbins-Tjaden

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Click on the picture for a larger version

Johann Adam Müller (Mueller)
Born: 23 Sep 1811 Germany
Died: 15 Feb 1890 Woodford Co IL
Burial: St. Mary's of Lourdes Cem, Worth Twp, Woodford Co IL

Johann Adam Müller, arrived in Worth Township in Woodford County in the Fall, about August, 1841 with Nikolaus and Nikolaus' son Michael Müller. Johann Adam married Marianna Peters (no photo) and she is also buried at St. Mary's of Lourdes Cem.

By Marjorie Grebner Welsch

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by Mrs. D. Meyer


Mrs. Dirk Meyer was Annie Harms, the daughter of Henry Hofker Harms, a farmer and landowner in Woodford County . She wrote her life story for her family at the time of her 50th wedding anniversary in 1922.

Henry Hofker Harms Biography

I was born in Peoria on Knoxville Avenue in a log house on January 31, 1855. My father and mother were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Harms. My mother’s name was Janna Saathoff. My older brother, Harm Harms was one year of age when my parents arrived in Peoria from Germany by sail boat by way of Cuba, New Orleans, St. Louis to Peoria. They said they were on the ocean twelve weeks. This what father told me and said they only had One Dollar left when they arrived here, so you see what they had to go through. All kinds of hardships, no friends, no money, no home but the good Lord was with them and they often spoke of the good friends they soon found and work too. So they got along fairly well and saved a little money as they were of the saving kind and wanted to get ahead in the new country and did. Another thing was that they never forgot their Lutheran Church. I heard my father and mother speak of what they had to contend with. It is all different now. They helped to build and organize several congregations. At Peoria, Secor, Benson, and Rochelle, Illinois, of which I am proud of today. When we left Peoria to go on a farm of 80 acres at Kruger, Illinois which my father rented, I well remember when we got there for there was a barrel of red pop-corn in that house and that took my eye. I will not forget it. It was in 1859 that we lived about 50 feet from the railroad. It was not an easy task for my mother to do her work and look after us. We would go out on the track and every time a train would be coming she would have to look after us to see that we were not on the track as she took my brother Bill off several times just before the train would come as he wanted to fight the train. We used to sit under the culvert and let the train go over us. We had no fence or yard to keep us in. At that time there were no fences and we always had to herd the cows, that was the children’s job, and sometimes we would let the cows run and we would play and forget all about the cows, and sometimes we could not find them, then we would get a good laming from our mother.

Kruger is a small town. It had one general store and a post office combined. The man who owned it was named Joe Schriber. The town also had a Blacksmith’s shop and one grain elevator and three or four houses and that is about all it has today. The same year (1861) we saw a large comet. It had a long tail and people said that it meant war but it did not mean it as we already had it. It was the Civil War and when they could not get any more volunteers they drafted men from 18 to 45 years of age, so it happened that my father was drafted and had to go to Springfield, Illinois to be examined but they found he was not fit for war as he was not a well man. The old T. P. & W. railroad passed our house with trainload after trainload of soldier boys. They would shout and many a mother was crying for her husband and sons.

At that time the ladies all wore hoop skirts and of course I wanted one very badly too, but my father would not let me have any as they cost money. So one day the neighbor girls, whose mother was dead, took pity on me and made a hoop skirt of willows, then sewed them in my underskirt and I was so proud and started for home. Mother didn’t say very much but when father came home there was something doing. He took my skirt off, pulled the willows out and I got a good beating besides, he said it was a sin to be fashionable and don’t you even dare to wear anything like that, I had a good cry and that settled that, and come to think of it now it certainly was an awful style anyway. There is such a difference now and we used to have panties, the top was of white muslin and the bottom of some dark printed calico. They would come way down on our shoes. I wish I could get a picture of something like that now. When I wore them I was about five years old and on Sundays Father and Mother would put us in the wagon box in some hay or straw and go some place to visit. That was customary at that time, or someone would come to visit us. I recall on one Sunday we had company and an awful storm came up. It was on Ascension Day when a family of seven people were drowned in the Illinois River at Peoria. It was the Beaseman family and their monument is still on the old cemetery now called Lincoln Park, where my grandfather and grandmother Harms are buried and also my husband’s brother is there. I want to say a little more about that storm. It took our barn, haystack, and well house all away. We were all in the hall and my brother Bill was next to the door. The wind took the door out and he went out with it and a man by the name of Mr. Bloom was with us and he crawled on his hands and knees and got my brother Bill out of the ditch where he had landed along the railroad tracks. He was bleeding terribly out of his nose and I will never forget it. I guess we lived there about four years, then we moved to Secor, two and half miles west, but before we moved I had my foot frozen. It came this way. Our folks were gone and my brother Bill and I were to stay home, so he had to get the cows as it was getting dark. It was winter and very cold, we were so poor that our folks could not buy us any shoes and mother made me some over-socks of old pants and I had to wear them, so when he went after the cows and I was afraid to stay home alone, I went after him. When he saw me, he picked me up and carried me home on his back and of course I froze my foot. When the folks came home we got a scolding and the next day we had to get a doctor from Washington, Illinois and I had to stay in bed almost three months. I had to have the foot lanced in two places and when we moved to Secor they put a feather bed in the wagon and three of us children in there so I would not take cold in my foot. Some transportation that was. Then it happened my father was drafted, but thank the good Lord he didn’t have to go.

Pastor Heydt would come on horse back from Peoria and hold services once a month and he started the congregation in Secor until they called a minister by the name of Herman Sieving. He was then a young man, and my sister, Mandy, was the first baby he christened. Rev. Heydt also started a congregation at Benson, Illinois. It was at Secor when my father bought his first piece of land at $15.00 an acre, from Dr. Wilson of Washington, Illinois. Of course when he bought it there was no Benson, as it was uncultivated prairie and had no house on it yet, so my father had to build one. Our house had two rooms down and two rooms upstairs but was not plastered. Before we left Kruger to move to Secor there was something else that happened. My father had to shell his corn so he had some men come with the corn sheller. At dinner time the man took the belt off of the sheller and came in to dinner. Then my brother Bill, sister Mary, and I tried to run it. I got on the platform and they made the machine go around. I got dizzy and fell off and my foot got in the cogwheels and mashed before we could stop it. They pulled me off and sat me on the ground because I could not walk. Then the men came from dinner and Mother called us. Bill and Mary went in but I could not walk. Then my Mother found out what had happened. So she carried me in the house, made a bread and milk poultice, that was always her cure for sores and swelling. It helped it some but it was a while before I was able to walk again. I still have scars on my foot so I am well marked. For three years I always had to carry the corn cobs for the whole neighborhood whenever they shelled corn. When I was carrying cobs at a neighbors, the man asked me to take the snow off of the rod. As I did, the pins in the fly wheel caught my dress and pulled me down. I could not get loose. I called to the men for help and they stopped the horses as quickly as they could and by that time I was pulled down to the ground and could not get up because my clothes were wrapped around the rod and almost broke my legs and my clothes had to be cut off of me to get me out. That, I think is the closest call I have ever had from being killed. I don’t think it was right for any parents to make girls do things like that. Now, it all different, so I think the good Lord has been with me many a time and saved me from a horrible death.

After we moved to Secor and the War was over in 1865, I went to my Grandmother Harms to go to German School in Peoria. I stayed four months and the winters were terrible at that time. I recall one snow storm that happened on a Saturday and I went to the Ting Mission School and they had a little Christmas party for the sewing and Sunday School classes. The teacher who ran the place was Mrs. Reynolds. They taught me how to sew and first little songs. My Grandmother did not want me to go as there was an awful blizzard outside, but I was determined to go and Grandma pushed the bed before one door and she was going to watch the other one and she even hid my Sunday dress but I found my dress and shoved the bed over and got out because I thought I must have my Christmas presents. On the way, I stopped at Mrs. Weirs’ bakery on Adams Street and warmed myself there and then Mrs. Weirs gave me a school bag to bring John’s present from the place, which was made of calico. I took the school bag and on the way I lost John’s school bag, and when I got to the Ting Mission my hands were so cold (I had no gloves) that two men had to rub my fingers with snow as they were afraid they were frozen, but they came out all right. The program went on and when it was over they gave me my Christmas stocking with candy and a little book in it. Then I started home to my Grandma’s and stopped at Weirs again. When I told what happened she almost took my head off for losing John’s calico school bag and I told her I couldn’t help it and then began to cry and went home to grandma’s. When I got there she was glad I was back and ate some of my candy but she couldn’t read my book as it was written in English. I never forgot Mrs. Weirs and I never liked her anymore.

My parents next moved from Secor to our farm at Benson where we had built a new home, as said before, of two rooms up and two rooms down but was not plastered. That year we lived in it that way but next summer we had it plastered. I was then thirteen years old. I had to go out and work for other people, most always working for farmers. I worked for my husband’s sister as she was not very strong and had small children. It was here I met my husband, Mr. Dirk Meyer. I also worked for a family near Minonk by the name of Jacob Lohnes. He was a squire of that township. I was there two summers and it would happen he would marry couples who could not understand English. Then I had to be the interpreter.

I was home one winter. My father asked me how I liked it. I said I liked it all right but could not stand to do the washings, which were very large and I cried. It was at the time I worked for Mr. Lohnes when we had a total eclipse of the sun. It was dark as night and the chickens went to roost. When the sun came out again they all crowed and thought it was morning. The following summer Mr. Lohnes came after me again. I worked for him that summer and then in the winter I worked for John Woltzen near Benson and stayed there until spring. Then I went to Washington and worked for Dr. Wilson. I was then fifteen years old. I stayed there one year. Then after that I worked near Eureka for a man by the name of Calvin Davis, a farmer. My sister, Mary, worked for Mrs. Davis’ father at the same time. We were just one mile apart. Then I got a felon on my finger and I had to go to Eureka to have my finger lanced and he told me I could not work for a week so sister Mary and I decided we would go home for a week, and as there was no Benson yet, but the grading was all done for the new Santa Fe railroad. We met and walked to Eureka and stopped at the doctors and he tied up my finger with bacon. Then we had our little bundles and started out on the new grade. It was March and it was cold and frosty. When we got started out on the new grade, the sun came out and thawed out the frost, and it got muddy and slippery and there were a few streams between the places where the culverts were to be so we got our feet wet. Then got on the grade again and started. Our feet became so coated with mud that we took our shoes off and went bare-footed on the slippery mud and frost. It was sixteen miles from Eureka to our folks. We left at nine o’clock in the morning and arrived about five in the evening. When we arrived we got a scolding from Mother for coming barefooted so she got a bucket of warm water and washed our feet and gave us something to eat. We did not get a cold from exposure. We stayed home a week and then walked back again and we went back to our places. When I got to my place they had piled up the whole week’s work, so I just took my bundle and went to my brother Hy’s and stayed there about a week, when a man by the name of Mr. Ray asked me to work for them. I stayed there all summer and liked it very well. I was then 17 years old. I was there at the time of the Chicago fire. All of the farmers went together and sent a carload of foodstuff on the 9th of October. Then I left Ray’s and come home in October, as the folks had written me that I should come home as they had a new minister in Secor. My brother, Bill, and I went to confirming school together. We went four days a week. So we started to Secor to attend the class. It was eight miles there and eight miles back in the winter. We would go by horseback or drive, but when the weather was bad we had to walk. There were six in our class. When we were through, the minister said we were all old enough to get married. He could, or he would marry us and I was the first one of the class to get married. This was in 1872. I was married to Mr. Dirk Meyer on June 16, 1872 at his mother’s house as all his people had small children at the time and could not go to my Father’s house as it was two miles away, so we decided to get married at Dirk’s Mother’s house. We had a very large room and high ceiling. It was round and had no end. It was the blue sky and under the cherry trees. We had the wedding supper in the house. Rev. Buszine married us. The choir from Secor came out ans serenaded us. In the evening we had a chivaree. We gave them beer and cake. On Monday Dirk took a wedding trip along to Peoria and I stayed home as a good wife should and kept the home fires burning. Dirk took his brother and family home to Peoria as they had come for the wedding.

After five months we sold our crops in the field and our live stock and my father moved us to Peoria. That was the first move in 1872. Our start was that Dirk had saved $1,800.00 and I had bed clothes and sold my horse to buy a sewing machine. Father gave us six wooden chairs and I still have two of them in daily use. Our first house we rented from Mr. Zeitz on Jefferson Street. That is where Gesina and Janna were born. Dirk put his money all in the business with his brother Frank which was the F. Meyer and Bros. Hardware Store. Then we bought our first furniture which cost $35.00. The bed cost $8.00, wardrobe $10.00, second hand stove about $3.00, three kitchen chairs and a clock $8.00 and little incidentals. No carpets. My first carpet was a rag carpet which I made myself. My father gave us meat, potatoes and flour. Four years later we bought a lot on George Street and built our first house and lived there six years. We then sold it and rented a house on Spencer Street and lived there two years. We then built a house on Lincoln Avenue. Albert and Henry were born in the house on George Street and Frank and Willie were born on Lincoln Ave. In 1887 I took my wedding trip to Germany. I went with Mrs. Fueger and Mrs. Buehler. Two Years later Dirk and Mr. Krause took a trip to Germany by themselves and left us home. It was not all sunshine as we lost our little boy Willie, two and half years old.

A bud the Gard’ner gave us

A pure and lovely child.

He gave it to our keeping   

To cherish undefiled     

But just as it was opening

To the Glory of the day,

Down came the Heavenly Gardner

And took our bud away.

He was the sunshine of our home, but thank the Lord he is not lost but safe in heaven. So we have one waiting there for us and it my only wish and prayer that we will meet all of our children there. This was in February 1892 and in 1881 my dear Mother died, 57 years old. In 1887 Dirk’s mother died. She was 80 years old. In 1905 my father died, 80 years old. In 1911 we went to the Holy Land. It was our best trip and one of the most interesting we have ever had. In 1915 we took a trip to California to the World’s Fair and visited Yellowstone Park, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. While at Seattle we took a trip on the Columbia River and a trip through Canada. We spent fourteen winters in Florida. Spent most of time in West Palm Beach. While in Florida we went to Cuba twice.

In 1903 we built new house on McBean Street and celebrated our Silver Wedding anniversary there, and both our girls were married there within six months apart. We lived there six years and sold it and moved to the Woolner building on Adams Street. Lived there two years and then moved to Goodwin Street. Lived there two years and then built a double house on Second Street. There we lived six years. But my life was not all joy for we had our ups and downs to bear like many other people. At that time I suffered a stroke and was very poorly. We had bought a lot on the West Bluff (Barker Avenue) built a new home and lived there six years when moved to Pekin, staying with Sena, our daughter, nearly two years. We bought a lot and built a bungalow and moved in 1920. We still live in this house and hope to end our days here as we like it. Am getting on in years and cannot do much anymore, as Dirk is 83 and I will be 77 years of age. Besides our own children we raised four grandchildren (Henry’s two Bobby and Walter and Frank’s two Betty and Bus). We do hope that it was not all in vain the way we have taught them and I have told them how to live to be Christian men and women, and not to forget their Lutheran Church, and may the good Lord be with you and bless you all.

I belong to two Ladies Aids, one in Pekin and one in Peoria, they are both called the Martha Society. I have done a great deal of quilting, I made thirty Rose Quilts and have basted over twenty-five of them for other people, but now my work of this kind is done and I feel all other work is getting harder on me and I think I will have to give up all work but it is hard to do after doing things so many years and I know that this world will go on just the same without me.

May the good Lord be with you and Bless you all. This is the wish of your --




Donated by Norm Nesheim, a great nephew of Annie Harms Meyer

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The Past and Present of Woodford County Illinois (1878)

The three Mundells, Abner, Simeon and Samuel were always regarded as three of Woodford county's most upright, honorable, worthy and substantial citizens. By industry and economy, coupled with sound judgment and good sense, they each accumulated large estates and by sterling honesty and integrity, won the esteem of everyone who knew them.

Simeon Mundell went to California in the spring of 1849, during the gold fever of that period, where he remained until April, 1852. While in California, he staid some time with a couple who kept an eating house, and leaving a thousand dollars in gold dust with them one day, for safekeeping, they suddenly decamped while he was absent, and, through some trifling oversight on their part, carried off his gold dust--probably by mistake. Suffice it, he never heard of them or his lucre afterward. More fortunate than thousands of others who went to California to seek their fortunes on its gold washed shores, nor withstanding the loss above narrated, he succeeded in accumulating considerable gold, with which he returned to Illinois, intending to go back to the Golden State in the fall, but a younger brother, who had gone to California with him, and whom he had left there in charge of their affairs, had become disgusted with the place, sold out and came home before he had completed his arrangements to go back.

This brother now lives in Texas. Abner Mundell went to California a few years ago and has since died. Samuel Mundell lives upon the site of his original homestead, and since the death of Simeon C. Mundell is the only one left of the three pioneer brothers.

Transcribed and donated by Nancy Mundell

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