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Emigrant Families

            The families who came to McLean County in the 1830s were adventurous. They were not the type to sit still at home. They saw the pot of gold over the rainbow and couldn't help chasing it -- and the next land grab. Many of the people who came here moved on, and the favorite places at different times were Kansas, Colorado and California. Only one person on the map was said to have gone back East. Two of the men who drew the map had left Bloomington for Oregon, but still had strong family ties to this place and fond memories of boyhood on the frontier.

The Colmans

               Edward H Colman was a millright from Massachusetts and did not appear in the census until 1850. Marriage records in McLean County indicate he married Cordelia Conger here in 1844. In the 1860 census he and his wife had two children, Louisa and Laura. In 1870, his wife and daughters were living in Green County, Missouri and no record of Edward is found, the implication being he had died or, more unlikely, left his family. 

The Millers

              Henry Miller kept the first tavern in Bloomington, at the corner of Grove and Gridley. He married William Evans' daughter, Temperance, thus his children were related to two of the very oldest families in McLean County. He fought as a corporal in the Black Hawk War under Merrill L Covell. Between 1850 and 1860, Henry and Temperance moved their family to Van Buren County, Iowa.

The Hardys

              The Luke Edward Hardy family came to Bloomington in 1837 according to the 1916 obituary of Luke Edward Jr. Luke Edward Hardy Sr. died sometime before 1850 and left his widow Sophrena with six children, three of whom were already started in their careers: Augustis was a blacksmith, (Luke) Edward worked in a livery stable and Franklin was a printer. Harriett Hardy was the only sibling to remain in Bloomington but did not leave descendants in McLean County. The Hardys became very successful in Shelby County where Augustis was County Clerk and Luke Hardy was Assistant Postmaster.

The Hatfields

            John Hatfield owned one of the very first hotels in Bloomington. These were not large and grand hotels, but simple log structures where passing families could find a shelter to sleep or where new immigrants might stay while establishing a permanent home.  Hatfield did not stay in Bloomington, but moved to Eureka, Illinois and then Missouri.

The Steeles

            John Steele (1804 – 1867) appeared in the 1840 census with two sons and a wife. His occupation was given as carpenter. In 1850 he was married to Margaret and had three children. His son William M Steel served in the 94th Illinois Volunteers during the Civil War and lived in Colorado. When he registered for the draft his occupation was tin smith. George, his younger son enlisted at the end of the war at the age of 17 and served a few months.  The Steele family did not appear again in the local census.

The Taylors

Hugh Taylor came to Illinois from Delaware in 1837. In the 1849 Whig, Hugh Taylor was employed in the tailoring department of the Baker and Perkins dry goods store. In 1849 he travelled to California to prospect for gold. He returned as the captain of the party from Bloomington in 1850. When he returned to Illinois he lived in Decatur and then in De Soto, Kansas. He married twice in Bloomington, once to Harriet Patterson and then to Harriett Hiscock.

The Evans 

                Isaac Evans was the brother in law of Thomas Fell and travelled with him from Pennsylvania to Illinois in 1836. Isaac Evans and several members of the Evans family moved on to Iowa and established their families there. Isaac Evans was no relation to William Evans, one of the first settlers in Blooming Grove.

The Lazelles

                The story of the Lazelle family is not told in the McLean County history books, but a family history indicates the Gazelles moved to Peoria in 1838.

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