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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Levi Crayne

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


LEVI CRAYNE. Mr. Crayne is the oldest settler of Stanton township. He was born in Warren county, Ohio, on the 14th of February, 1815. His father, Moses CRAYNE, was a native of New Jersey, when a young man emigrated to Ohio, and was one of the pioneer settlers of that state. His wife, whom he married in Ohio, was Susanna DITTS, who was of German descent.

The subject of this sketch, in his boyhood days, attended the old-fashioned schools in Ohio. The school-houses were built of logs, with puncheon benches, and offered the rudest accommodations possible. He first went to subscription schools, but attended subsequently a free school for a short period. He lived in Ohio till eighteen years of age, and then his father (about the year 1833) moved to Fountain county, Indiana. His parents died in that county. On the 15th of December, 1837, he married Elizabeth LA TOURRETTE. She was born in Montgomery county, Ohio, November 28th, 1820, and is of French descent. Her grandfather was born and raised in the city of Paris. He emigrated to America just at the time of the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, and fought through that struggle as a soldier in General Washington's army. Her father, John LA TOURRETTE, was born in the state of New York, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and in Somerset county, New Jersey, married Sarah SCHENCK. In 1817 John La Tourrette emigrated to Ohio, and settled on the Big Miami, in Montgomery county, where Mrs. Crayne was born. The family moved to Indiana in 1830, and settled in Fountain county.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Crayne settled on a farm in Fountain county, Indiana, and lived there till the year 1855. They at that date removed, to Champaign county, Illinois, first settling on the Salt Fork, in the northern part of St. Joseph township. In 1857 he moved to his present farm in sections 22 and 23, township 20, range 10, then consisting of wild land, with no improvements. At that time it little appeared that the country would reach its present stage of development and cultivation. No one lived in their immediate neighborhood, and at the time of their settlement people told them, that live there as long as they would, they would never see the country improve and settle up; and the man who assisted Mr. Crayne in building his house told him that he should never consent to live in that locality if the land were given to him. He entered eighty acres at $1.25 an acre, and bought railroad land for eight dollars. He made the first permanent improvement in the township. At first he put up a log cabin, and in its place has since built a two-story frame house. Farming has been his general occupation, but occasionally he has carried on other pursuits, and is now extensively engaged in the bee business, which he has conducted with success.

Mr. and Mrs. Crayne have six children living: Emma, now the widow of Barton RAYBURN; Albion, living on a farm north of his father; Lottie, who married William H. HOY, and is now living in Kansas; William H. CRAYNE, who for several years has taught school in the county; Ella, the wife of James R. WILLS, living in Stanton township; and John S., the youngest son, who is residing at home. Ida, their third child, married Dr. Thomas J. DUNN, and moved to Nodaway county, Missouri, and died there in the year 1872.

In his politics Mr. Crayne was a member of the Republican party, though he was formerly a Whig, and voted for General Harrison in the presidential contest of 1840, which is remembered as the most exciting which ever occurred in this country. With the political sympathies of her husband Mrs. Crayne has warmly sympathized. He was formerly a member of the Christian Union denomination, and is now a member of the Friends' meeting in Stanton township. The family has shown an excellent record in the way of patriotism. Mrs. Crayne's grandfather was a Frenchman, who came to America and fought in the war of the colonies for their independence; her father was a soldier in the war of 1812; and Mr. and Mrs. Crayne's two oldest sons were in the war of the late rebellion. Albion was first in the three months' service, and afterward in the 63d Indiana regiment, belonging to a company of which Schuyler LA TOURRETTE, Mrs. Crayne's brother, was captain; he served three years. William H. was in the 150th Illinois, and served one year.

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