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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of William H. Grove

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



Mr. Grove is now the oldest settler in the northwestern part of the county west of Fisher. He came to Brown township in 1852, and with the exception of two years, (when he resided in Newcomb township,) has been living in it ever since. He was born in Dearborn county, Indiana, twenty-five miles from Cincinnati, on the 9th of January, 1821. His father, John GROVE, was a native of Pennsylvania, and emigrated from that state to Kentucky when he was eighteen years old. From Kentucky he removed to Indiana. Mr. Grove's mother's name was Alice ABBOTT. When his father settled in Indiana he entered land in the timber, and Mr. Grove was raised and lived on the same farm until he was twenty-one years of age. The surrounding country was wild and uncultivated. There were no schools except at a distance of two or three miles. The schools were held in log schoolhouses of the most primitive description, and the teachers were usually persons of very average ability and knew little themselves concerning the ordinary branches of an education. All the schooling he ever received that amounted to anything was comprised in six months' instruction. The remainder of his education he obtained by his own unaided exertions. He was one of the oldest children, and was obliged to stay at home and assist with the labors of the farm--clearing and cultivating a farm in the timbered country of Indiana being an undertaking which involved a great deal of tedious labor and constant hard work.

After the subject of this biography was twenty-one years of age, his father sold the farm in Dearborn county and moved to Decatur county, Indiana, settling eight miles north of Greensburgh. Mr. Grove made his home at his father's house till 1840. In December of that year he married Rebecca MERRILL, who was born in Maryland, came to Ohio when two years of age, and afterward removed to Indiana. Her father's name was Richard MERRILL. After his marriage he removed to Rush county, Indiana, and was farming there four years on rented land. He next farmed two years in Decatur county, afterward lived in Ripley county, and in the year 1852 came to Illinois, and settled in what is now Brown township, Champaign county. His location was on section 34, township 22, range 7. He was the first settler in that part of the township. At the time he made this settlement no one lived within the distance of three miles. Some persons said he was not showing good judgment in going out that distance on the prairie, but he had known what it was to be subject to the malarial influence of timbered districts in Indiana, and wanted to select a place where he and his family would be entirely free from the ague. The result has more than justified his expectations. He has lived to see the finest farms in that part of the county to be opened up on the prairie, and for some years past there have been neighbors in abundance.

He had four hundred and fifty dollars on coming to the state, and with this entered 320 acres of land. This consumed all his capital, and for five years he followed breaking prairie in order to get enough to live on. The flies were extremely bad in summer, and, indeed, constituted his greatest annoyance. When he went to mill or any other place he was obliged to make the journey after night in order to prevent his horses from being eaten up with the swarms of flies which covered the prairie. But he stuck to his location, and has lived to see reason for being well satisfied with it. Two years after settling here Thomas Campbell came to live on the same section. Mr. Grove sold him the land very cheap to induce him to move out so that he might have a neighbor. The nearest store was at Mahomet, nine miles away. Mr. and Mrs. Grove have six children: William A. GROVE, who is farming with his father; Lewis M., also farming in the neighborhood; Martha A., who married Robert DOLPH, of Fisher; Mary Caroline, wife of William FRITZ, of Newcomb township; Jane, who married George KURTZ, of Brown township; and John Franklin, who is living at home.

In politics, Mr. Grove belongs to the old Democracy, though he is not a partizan, and for local oftices has felt himself free to vote for the man best qualified irrespective of political proclivities.

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