Humphrey - Thomas B. - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Humphrey - Thomas B.

Source: Chapman Brothers "Portrait and Biography Album of Vermilion County, Illinois," page 454

Few men in Ross Township are more widely known than this honorable pioneer and none are more generally respected. He is a man plain in speech and manners, contented with plain and comfortable surroundings, but a thorough and skillful farmer, and owns 200 acres of the most valuable and fertile land in this vicinity. Under his careful management it produces in abundance the rich crops of the Prairie Sate, yielding to the proprietor a generous income and enabling him like Longfellow's "Blacksmith," to "look the whole world in the face," as not owing any man. The paternal grandfather of our subject, John Humphreys by name, was a native of North Carolina where it supposed he was married and reared his family and where undoubtedly his son, Jonathan B., the father of our subject, was born. The latter when reared to man's estate was married about 1815, to Miss Nancy Johnston and to them there was born one child, a daughter, Deborah, before their removal to the North. About 1817, they changed their location to Harrison County, Ind., settling on a tract of land in the woods and where their son, Thomas B., our subject, was born on June 27, 1818. It was probably four years later, about 1822, when they removed from Harrison to Putnam County, Ind., settling in the heavy timber where the chief amusement of Thomas B., in his boyhood was picking up and burning brush, alternated occasionally with the recreation of fishing. He assisted his father in the clearing of the farm at a time when bears and wolves roamed through the forest, and the latter often made night hideous near the cabin of the pioneer. The mother of the family spun and wove wool and flax and manufactured most of their clothing. In his boyhood our subject much of the time wore "leather breeches," made from the skins of deer. His first pair of boots were purchased when he was nearly a man grown, for $2.50. Prior to this the father had made the shoes worn by the family. The Indians had not then left Putnam County, and were frequently seen skulking through the forest stealing when they could, but offering no particular molestation to the family. The father of our subject died in Putnam County, Ind., about 1832. He had, prior to this time come to this county and purchased a farm, building upon it a log house for future occupancy, but upon returning to his family, was soon afterward seized with the fatal illness which terminated in his death. The mother and children then remained in Indiana until the latter were nearly grown, coming to this county in 1838. A few years later the mother died leaving five children, namely: Deborah, Thomas B., our subject, Barbara A., Mary J., and Margaret B., of whom three are living. She and her husband were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The old home farm of the Humphreys family was in Blount Township, this county, from which they hauled their grain and drove their stock to Chicago to market. Some times they would drive their hogs to Wabash, Ind., and have them slaughtered there, receiving two and one-half to three and one-half cents per pound. The subject of this sketch was married in Danville, this county, in 1842, to Miss Rachel, daughter of Albert Cossart, one of the earliest pioneers of this county. Of this union there were born two sons - Albert, now a resident of Barber County, Kan.; and Samuel, who operates the home farm. Mrs. Rachel Humphreys departed this life in December, 1877. She was a lady possessing many excellent qualities and was a consistent member of the Christian Church. Mr. Humphreys has 160 acres in the homestead proper, besides forty acres of timber formerly belonging to the old home farm of his father. He has given to each of his sons a part of his original purchase. The home of Mr. Humphreys is one to which the people of the neighborhood love to resort. Although making no pretensions to style or elegance, there is about the dwelling an air of comfort and hospitality which invariably goes to the heart. Thomas made a triangular wooden cabinet as a wedding gift for Samuel and Sarah when they married in 1876. It is currently in the possession of Jerry Humphreys, son of Carl Humphreys, grandson of Samuel and Sarah.
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