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 Marvin Read

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


MARVIN READ, of Champaign Township, is a son of one of the earliest pioneers of this county, his father having emigrated to Illinois the year following its admission into the Union as a State.  He is a native of Ontario County, N. Y., and was born in Phelps Township, April 28, 1817.  His father, Joseph READ, was a native of North Adams, Berkshire co., Mass., and his paternal grandfather, who served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War, was one of the earliest pioneers of North Adams, where he spent the last years of his life, and died in 1838, at a good old age.  His son, Joseph, in early life, learned the trade of a saddler and harness-maker, and emigrated from Massachusetts to New York State in 1812.  He first located in Canajoharie, Montgomery County, whence he removed two years later to Ontario County, of which he was one of the earliest settlers.  This was before the days of canals or railroads, and the nearest market was miles away.

Joseph Read purchased a tract of timber land, a part of which he cleared and cultivated until 1819, then pushed on further westward into Illinois, making his first purchase of land in the Military Tract.  He soon afterward set out to bring his family to his new location, but was attacked with fever, died, and was buried among strangers.  The mother before her marriage was Miss Lorinda EDDY, also a native of North Adams, Mass.  Her father removed to New York State in about 1820, and settled in Farmington, Ontario County, where he died in 1831.  The mother of our subject kept her children together, although left without means of support.  She was a woman of great indusstry and energy, and proved herself equal to the emergency, and with the assistance of her children, purchased a small tract of land in Ontario with a log house upon it into which the family removed and which remained their home for ten years following.  Here the mother died in 1834.  The record of her four sons is as follows:  Hulbert emigrated to Michigan and located in Lapeer County at an early period in its history, 1836; Carlos went to live with an uncle at Palatine Bridge, where he married and died, leaving two children; Henry removed from Michigan to Minnesota, and died there about 1865; our subject was the fourth.

Marvin Read, the youngest child of his parents, was but two years old when his father died.  After his mother purchased her little tract of land, he assisted his brothers in clearing the farm, and remained with his mother until her death.  He then started for the far West, via the Erie Canal to Buffalo, intending to go from there by the lakes to Michigan.  On account of rough weather, however, the boat was obliged to put in at Ashtabula, Ohio, and young Read, with five others, started on foot for Michigan.  After a long and roundabout journey, our subject reached Lapeer County, where he engaged in chopping wood.  He saved what he could of his moderate earnings, and the following year purchased forty acres of land in the “oak openings,” for which he paid $1.25 per acre.  In 1840 he received $100 from his grandfather’s estate, and with it entered eighty acres of land adjoining his first possessions.

Mr. Read’s circumstances now seemed to justify him in thinking about the establishment of a future home and domestic ties, and accordingly, in 1842, he took unto himself  wife and helpmeet.  The young couple settled in a frame “house” which he had erected on his land, and with hope and courage began the battle of life together.  In the summer season Mr. Read devoted his time to the improvement and cultivation of his land and in the winter, with two yoke of oxen, worked in the timber region seven miles distant, going to the woods on Monday morning and returning Saturday night, the brave young wife in the meanwhile being left with but few neighbors in sight and very little opportunity to discuss “the fashions.”

Our subject and his wife occupied their primitive home in Michigan until 1856.  He had been prospered in his operations and had added to his first purchase until he became the owner of 224 acres of cultivated land, besides 115 acres of pine timber.  In the year mentioned he sold his possessions in Michigan and started in the month of February with his wife and four children for Illinois.  Their outfit consisted of a span of horses and a large sleigh with a double canvas covering in which, among other things, they placed a small stove.  The journey, a distance of 500 miles, was completed in twelve days.  Coming into Champaign Township, Mr. Read purchased forty acres of land, which is now included in the city limits and commenced farming.  Their residence was within the corporation, and they lived there about four years, then removed to their present homestead.  Here Mr. Read has erected a shapely and substantial set of farm buildings, planted fruit and shade trees, and otherwise beautified his premises.  He has 320 acres of valuable land, a part of which is devoted to pasture.  He mostly raises grain and stock, the latter including graded Short-horn cattle.

The first wife of our subject, to whom he was married Jan. 31, 1842, was Miss Theodore ALVERSON, who was born in Warsaw, Wyoming Co., N. Y., in November, 1825.  She was the daughter of Lewis and Finie ALVERSON, who removed from the Empore State to Michigan at an early day, settling in Washtenaw County.  From there he moved in 1834, to Almont, Lapeer County, and engaged in mercantile pursuits.  Detroit, fifty miles distant, was then the nearest market, to which the grain was hauled with ox-teams.  Mrs. Theodora Read, after becoming the mother of six children, departed this life at the home of her husband in Champaign, on the 14th of May, 1858.  Two of their children died in childhood; Alfred lives in San Diego, Cal.; Caroline, who became the wife of S. K. RIKER, and Emeline, Mrs. D. C. HAMILTON, both live in Champaign Township.

On the 25th of February, 1861, Mr. Read was united in marriage with Mrs. Kate (LOPER) HUFF.  This lady was born in Camden, N. J., in 1828, and is the daughter of David H. and Matilda (HUSTON) LOPER, of New Jersey.  She was first married to Charles M. Huff, of New Jersey, and they removed to Champaign County, this State, where Mr. Huff died.  Of this union there were two children:  Sallie H. married L. W. AMBROSE, and lives in Galesburg, this State; Charles M. is a resident of Tolono Township.  The two children of the present marriage of our subject are Jose and Addie F.

Mr. Read politically, is a stanch Republican, and cast his first presidential vote for Gen. Harrison in the days before the old Whig was abandoned by the organization of the Republican party.  Mr. and Mrs. Read are both members in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, with which our subject became connected while he lived in Michigan.  In this he has held the offices of Trustee and Steward, and has contributed liberally and cheerfully to the support of the Gospel for many years.

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