This information is part of the Champaign County ILGenWeb Project. If you have reached this site by means other than The USGenWeb Project, The ILGenWeb Project, or directly, please visit the main Champaign Co, ILGenWeb site for more information regarding Champaign County, IL ancestors. Information contained here was transcribed by Celia Snyder. Please do not repost this information without the express written permission of Celia Snyder.

Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of Mark Carley

SOURCE: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois," Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887


The portrait upon the opposite page is that of one of the best known and most highly esteemed men in Champaign County, MARK CARLEY.  He was one of the early benefactors of its capital city, and has probably done more than any other one man in bringing it to its present prosperous condition.  He has spent very much time and money upon improvements for the general good, and on every hand may be seen the silent evidences of the work which he inaugurated in this locality nearly thirty-five years ago.  Our subject was born in hancock, Hillsboro Co., N. H., Aug. 24, 1799.  With the history of his ancestors prior to his grandfather he is not familiar, further than that he knows they were of English extraction.  His paternal grandfather, Joseph CARLEY, was born in massachusetts, Feb. 17, 1718, and in early manhood married Miss Sallie WASHBURN, who was born Sept. 1, 1729.  This lady was connected with the numerous family of Washburns, who have since filled so large a space in State and national affairs of this country.  The father of Mark Carley was Elijah, the youngest of his parents’ family, and who was born in Massachusetts, May 21, 1771.  The mother of our subject, formerly Miss Agnes GRAHAM, was born in New Hampshire, July 18, 1772.  The elder brothers of Elijah CARLEY served in the Revolutionary War, and one of them left a soldier’s discharge signed by the hand of Washington himself.  As may be supposed, this document is carefully preserved as an invaluable relic.  Elijah Carley, Sr., and one of his eldest sons, served in the War of 1812.  Two years prior to this, however, the former removed from New Hampshire to Vermont with his family.

In the year 1815 young Mark commenced to learn the trade of a house carpenter and millwright, at which he served an apprenticeship of four years, and subsequently followed milling and the gin business in Louisiana for seventeen years, and until he was thirty-five years old.  In 1835 he removed to Clermont County, Ohio, where he purchased 300 acres of land and engaged in agricultural pursuits.  He subsequently added to his first possessions and remained a resident of the Buckeye State until 1853, in the meantime having visited California.  After his return from the Pacific Slope he decided to make his home further westward, and coming to this county located first at Urbana, whence he removed to Champaign.  Soon afterward he put up a dwelling on State street, and ereced the first grain warehouse in the city, placing within it the first steam engine which operated a corn-sheller.

In 1857 Mr. Carley purchased lots in Tolono, and there also built the first warehouse, and put in the first steam engine and side track for cars.  He encouraged the settling up of Champaign by every means within his power, such as erecting, building and buying city property, and disposing of it at a reasonable figure to hose who desired to become citizens.  His fine business abilities, in connection with his genial disposition and courteous manners to all, have secured for him scores of life-long friends, who esteem him as much as they are grateful to him for what he has done for them personally, and for what he has done for the community in general.  He has now arrived at fourscore years and eight, with all his faculties in fine preservation, and retains the same love of sociability which characterized his younger years.  He has contributed liberally to all worthy enterprises, giving of his time, means and influence to the support of every project calculated to increase the welfare and prosperity of Champaign County.

Mark Carley was united in marriage with Miss Abigail W. STEVENS, of Springfield, Vt., April 27, 1830.  Of this union there were born eleven children, only three of whom are now living, and are residents of Champaign.  Mrs. Carley departed this life in the latter city, Nov. 12, 1871.  She was a lady of much force of character, highly esteemed, and well worthy to be the companion of such a man as Mark Carley.

Mr. Carley, during his earlier years, was a Clay Whig, and a Fremont and Lincoln Republican, but later has voted independently, giving his support to the men whom he believed best qualified for office.  In this, as in all other duties of life, he has brought his conscience to bear, and has little to regret during the course of a remarkably long and worthy life.

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