DEWITT COUNTY REUNIONS
Names In Alpha Order
LAFFERTY FAMILY REUNION IN 1898
The following article appeared in the 19 August 1898 issue of the Clinton Register.
LAFFERTY FAMILY REUNION.
The Lafferty Family reunion occurred Wednesday on the old homestead in Rutledge township,
nearly 180 persons participating. The occasion was in reality to begin the series of reunions
that will follow through the coming years. Grandma Lafferty, of DeWitt, and her daughter Mary,
Mrs. Julia Wilson and daughters of this city and H. W. Schumacher and fancily, of Eldorado,
Kan., were present, and with Charles Lafferty of this city, Wm. Lafferty of McLean county; Sam
and Isaac of Rutledge township, and quite a number of the collateral kindred of the Lafferty
race sat down to a sumptuous banquet in the old original grove north of the mansion where every
delicacy known to our fruitful clime made up the feast.
Judge W. H. Lafferty, the father of the DeWitt county branch of the family, so well and widely
known, came to DeWitt county from Clark county, O., in 1859 settling on the farm where
Wednesday's festivities were held. He there raised and educated his family, many of whom are
parents and now grandparents. He was for a time county judge of this county and held other
positions of honor in the old commonwealth, and his son James Lafferty, the first husband of
Mrs. Julia Wilson of this city, was elected sheriff of the county.
The meeting was a most pleasant one and the reminiscences of early life in their picturesque
wilds were recited and new and more fervid attachments generated in such recollections.
LANE-MILLER-LISENBY-THOMPSON FAMILY REUNION HELD IN 1898
The following article describing this four-family reunion appeared in the 26 August 1898
issue of the Clinton Register.
FOUR FAMILIES MEET. The Lanes, Millers, Lisenbys and Thompsons. They Organize for
Future Meetings.-Address by Prof. Staymate and Some of the Aged Fathers.
The Lane-Miller reunion and grand picnic at Miller's woods near the farm of T. H. Miller in
Creek township Sunday was an affair of the kind that will be read of and commented on in
the future as the day when the local historic society of Creek township was founded. The
four oldest families in the township are the Lanes, Lisenbys, Thompsons and Millers, their
emigration thereto covering periods from 1824 to 1835, inclusive. Rev. Thos. H. Miller,
grandson of the old founder of the Miller generations in Creek township, and Hon. Tillman
Lane and a few others sometime since decided to hold such a picnic and reunion as a means
of inaugurating as a yearly event the meetings of a society whose aim is to treasure and
preserve the recollections of the and old men and women who fought the earliest battles with
wild nature in the now rich and growing community; and to foster the friendships that should
ever endure and cement the rising and even the unborn generations of the old families.
The exercises in the forenoon were very brief. After two selections by the brass band John
Morrison, of Tunbridge, gave a short talk about his early life which was quite interesting.
The strains of the Portman band vibrated for the first time through the undisturbed foliage of
the old woods and over 500 people came with well-filled baskets, and after a sumptuous
dinner of such stores of roast beef, chicken and delicacies as are foreign in richness and taste
to the city people, this large audience assembled in the sonless auditorium of seats and on the
platform decorated with an immense flag and other decorations, to listen to speeches. Very
appropriately, the formation and official fledging of the society took place first. Rev. Thos.
Hamlin Miller, of Lane, was chosen president, F. C. Shepherd, of Birkbeck, secretary and
John Lisenby, of Weldon, treasurer, the three being constituted a permanent executive board
to hold office through the year '99, and to arrange for a similar meeting next year.
B. F. Staymate, of Clinton, gave a short introductory talk, and the venerable A. K. Miller was
introduced and spoke most entertainingly of his own early life and that of his father. Among
other things he said he was six years old when his parents came here from Grayson county,
Ky., he being now 77 years old. Seeing the tiny hillocks of his first view of the Illinois
prairies which were then a wild vast, sweep of chaos, he thought they were potato hills from
which all the people had gone. He told how his parents struggled to build a cabin to shelter
them after having ridden several hundred miles on pack mules, and pointed out the localities
where this occurred. He grew up in a few years to see his father go eight and ten n-miles to
help a neighbor raise a log cabin. There were no mills near and people pounded corn to
make it into meal for bread; deer roamed in great herds over the prairie land; space was at a
discount and people were as afraid of the prairie as of lions. They all settled in the woods.
Mr. Miller told of his sainted mother who in those early days was a doctress and nurse; she
was accustomed to be sent for many n-miles, and her simple remedies from the field of
nature healed many hundreds. She could cure the ague in 24 hours and had wonderful
success in breaking the distressing fevers that hung like countless demons in the fogs and
miasms of the swamps and sloughs. There were numbers of people not yet old who
remember this remarkable woman, known far and wide as Mother Miller, who was a
welcome angel in thousands of homes stricken with the maladies of the time. John Miller,
the father of A. K. Miller, had come in 1827 and to this couple were born 14 children, all of
whom have large families and the generation of great-grandchildren is fast widening.
Hon. Tillman Lane next spoke. Mr. Lane is the son of Ezekiel Lane and grandson of
Tillman Lane, who with his sons Ezekiel and John Lane, better known as Uncle Jack
Lane, came to Long Point from Tomkinsville, Ky., in 1824. The fancily came to Creek
township in 1835. About that time Abraham Lisenby, the father of the Lisenby race in this
part of Illinois was settling on the farm of Benjamin Lisenby, who, at an advanced age died
in the early seventies. He was the father of the late C. S. Lisenby of Weldon, Wm. Lisenby,
of DeWitt, Mrs. Dr. Fisher, of Leroy, and other children deceased. For this old and
time-honored family the Lisenby cemetery of Creek township was named. This old spot of
earth contains the ashes of Creek township's oldest honored dead, among them an Indian
Chief of the Creek tribe, and two soldiers of the war of 1812; there is a stone that bears the
date of 1830.
Mr. Lane said at this time there were but the four families in the township -- the Lanes,
Millers, Lisenbys and Thompsons, and but few acres of ground in cultivation. After a tribute
to the sterling qualities of these old families, all of whom came from Kentucky, and whose
latchstrings hung out not only to each other but to all benighted strangers, and whose
attachments and sympathies were unknown in these selfish days Mr. Lane spoke feelingly of
the strides the country had made. As he looked on the whited heads around him and those in
the audience his heart was full and sadness moistened his cheeks, as he told of the far greater
list of his acquaintances among the dead than among the living.
The venerable Matthew Miller of Joplin, Mo., 81 years of age, spoke at length of early days.
Uncle Matt told of the deep snow, and how thick the skeletons of wild turkeys lay after the
nearly six feet of snow had disappeared. He gave quite a description of his early courtship
when he was required to make his hundred rails in one day and walk several miles before he
could pretend to the favor of his sweetheart for an evening's visit.
John Miller spoke of the great trials of his early life and told of living in a tent a mile from
the scene of the picnic, and into which the wolves entered in the night and were driven out by
his mother. He recited a number> of other reminiscence equally thrilling.
Wm. Lane 71 years old, of Lane, spoke of his memory of the days when they went ten miles
to assist a neighbor build a cabin; of the time when no hogs were raised in Creek township,
because the wolves and the bear would destroy them. People had venison in plentiful
quantities. He remembered when flour was a real luxury and was used as a special dainty to
make bread for Sunday eating.
The venerable John Morrison added to the spirit of the meeting with a store of
The occasion was a remarkable one in numbers for the beginning, and, if the cornniittee do
their duty and have fine weather, the next annual meeting will be a great event in this section
of DeWitt county. To the present generation belongs the honor that no subsequent one can
share, of being in touch with these fast passing old patriarchs, who were in the development
of the country. The recollections that would die with them, were it not for these meetings,
will be priceless contributions to the literature of the future to be read by unborn generations.
Professor Staymate spent the early part of his life in Creek township, and he seemed in a
happy mood. His address contained some fine eulogies of the good old fathers and mothers
that had gone to the world beyond. His talk was one of special interest and pleased all. The
Professor made his first public talk in Creek township at the earnest solicitation of A. K.
Miller who occupied a seat upon the platform. He related incidents of his life in that
township that were remembered by many old settlers.
PHARES FAMILY PICNIC -- 1879
The following article appeared in the 22 August 1879 issue of The Clinton Register. One side
of the column was cut off, so some of the information that is questionable has been underlined.
On Friday of last week "Uncle Sammy' PHARES celebrated his seventy-first birthday by a family
reunion at Weldon Springs .... There were between two and three hundred of his relatives and
friends present ....
Samuel C. PHARES was born in Hamilton county, Ohio, August 15, 1808, and is now 71 years old.
On the 21st day of February, 1828, he was married to Miss Sarah MARSHALL. In 1847 he removed
to this county, where he has ever since lived. Mr. and Mrs. PHARES had thirteen children, all
of whom are living and in good health. . ., and all married but one, the youngest son. Mrs.
PHARES died Oct. 17, 1877. Following is a list of the children, grand-children and
Robert was married to Miss C. H. HULL, Sept. 25, 185 1, and have had five children, Wm. H.
(dead), Sarah Etta (married to A. RAZEY, Dec. 25, 1876), E. F. Arthur, Hattie A.
William was married to Miss Elizabeth NAGLEY, Oct. 17,1855, and have had five children--Oscar
M. Edgar C., Emma, Eliza, William the second.
Elizabeth was married to E. EDWARDS in 185 1, and had one daughter, Laura, who married Mr. T.
CUSA. Mr. EDWARDS died and in 1854 she married Mr. C. HALL, who have had eleven children,
three of whom died in infancy, and two (Mary and Estella) died in after years. There are now
living-- Lester and Lizzie (twins), Lijde, Ida, Ella and Frank.
John A. was married to Margaret J. McGRAW, Oct. 7,1855, and have had nine children--Charles L.,
Sarah J., Mary E., Francis M., Effie May, John Allen, Melissa, Ella, Ellie, Wm. H. (dead),
Minnie McGraw (dead).
Henry Clay was married to Nancy PEDDICORD in 1861, and had eight children--Florence, Nevada,
Alice, Grant, Maude, Minnie, Myrtle and Wallace.
Francis M. was married to Elizabeth McPHERSON, June 4,1861, and they have had six children--
Frank M. (dead), Lewis, Paul C., Amy, Willie M., Ina H.
Melissa J. was married to J. J. KEGARICE, Oct. 19, 1854, and they have had five children--Sarah
K. (married A. F. TWEED, June 24,1877), Laura P. (married to Wm. DAWSON, Aug. 14,1877), Mary N.
(married to Lincoln KELLY, March 18, 1879), Addie J. and Freddie.
Amy Ellen was married to Leander S. McGRAW, Sep. 1, 1859, and they have had five children--
Lincoln Leslie (dead), John, Samuel P., Eddie Lulu and Hattie.
Sarah Louisa was married to James PAYNE in 1865, and have had three children--James L. and Mary
Etta (both dead) and William S.
Julia A. was married to James LAFFERTY, Feb. 4, 1864, and had four children--Eliza, Minnie,
Kate and Alice.
Margaret was married to James WOODARD, Nov. 19, 1864, and had six children--Fred, Frank, Belle,
Maude, Nellie and John.
Mary E. was married to Wm. H. HARRISON, Jan. 31,1865, and has had four children, [two deceased],
and two were present--Frances L. and Louisa.
Samuel M. the youngest son is unmarried ....