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Lost Families

            Life was perilous in early Illinois. Disease killed whole families in a fell swoop. One family in these pages lost all four of their children in the span of eleven days! But these families were not all lost to disease, but to lack of documentation. Why did Fell, Bunn and Guthrie remember these men, when the McLean County history books do not remember them? What funny story did Adam Guthrie tell about Merriott Lyon in the Ark? Or what tragic tale did ladies whisper about Mrs. Charles Vesey over tea? But they were remembered in Fell's map, so we puzzle over them here.

The Rowens

            Death by disease was not uncommon. According to her brother, Mary Ann Baker (a daughter of Isaac Baker) was the only person willing to nurse T. T. Sampson, a local businessman, through the cholera. Mary Ann and her husband Martin Rowan died in 1855 of the Asiatic Flu or cholera. Their only son, Albert Rowan died of the measles while serving during the Civil War, thus ending that part of the Baker line.

The Williams

            No trace could be found of this individual. This is one of the mysteries of the map. Why did the three map makers remember Mr. Williams, but none of the historians remember him? He also did not appear on any census reports.

The Lyons

             Very little is known of Merriott Lyon. In 1833 he bought out William Covell's dry goods store that was at Front and Main Streets. Judith Majors Bradner told Madame Annette of the early church celebrations where the music was performed by Mr. Lyon on the flute. The single issue of the Bloomington Observer which has survived contains an announcement regarding the estate of Merritt Lyon, who had died -- sometime before January 13, 1838, the date of the newspaper. No information regarding his family could be found.

The Veseys

             The name Vesey on the map may refer to the widow or children of Charles Vesey (1788 – 1833), who was killed by lightning in his blacksmith shop in 1833. He was very fond of horse racing and more strait-laced people in the town said he was struck down for his love of horse racing. His wife was Elizabeth Polites. She remarried in 1837 to David Bogan, but thereafter she disappears from the record. A Sarah Jane Vesey was married in McLean County in 1845 to Frederick Rowe, but she also disappeared from the record. A local story says that Charles Vesey, a son of the elder Charles, died a violent death in Iowa. Charles Vesey was a corporal in the first troop sent from Bloomington during the Blackhawk War.


             An inventory after Charles Vesey’s death in 1833 included many items common to the time. For his work he had a supply of iron, but no tools were included in the inventory. He had the supplies for building a house: 600 feet of laths, 286 feet of weatherboard, 228 of flooring and shingles. Two items of clothing were noted, a bit of calico and a white blond veil. Food itemized was sugar, cornmeal, grinding corn, bacon, pork, salt, eggs and butter. He also had a supply of whiskey and brandy.

The Haydens

              The only family of the name of Hayden in the 1840 census was one headed by Rebecca Hayden, who was a lady of less than thirty years. She had two sons and two daughters and another young man living in her home. Benjamin Haines told a story of freeing a Mr. Hayden from the ice when he fell during the great freeze of 1836. Mr. Hayden slipped and fell, and his coat became frozen to the ground so that Benjamin Haines had to cut the coat in two to free him.

The Andersons

              The only record of the Dr. Anderson noted on the map is his obituary which stated that his daughter was Mrs. Jonathon Cheney. However, a family biography written by Mrs. Jonathan Cheney states that her name was Catherine Owen (and she outlived her husband). 

The Haneys

              No record remains of the Haneys other than a few entries in the Thomas Fell Daybook for John and Richard Haney. The Daybook was found in the Lexington Historical Society's basement in 2015. The Daybook records business transactions between Thomas Fell and his customers while he was living in Pennsylvania and as he moved across the country on his way to Bloomington. It includes his earliest years in Bloomington when he was building houses and working on the farms of McLean County.

The Macons

              General Macon is recorded as living at Front and West Street on the map, but no stories have been preserved of his life. He appeared in the 1850 census with his wife Moriah (Maria) and three children, all of whom died in Colorado. A legal notice in the Pantagraph indicates that Maria Macon was living outside the state in 1856. 

The McCullons

              Absolutely no record was uncovered of this pioneering family at the corner of Washington and Madison Streets.

The O'Connors

              Absolutely no record was uncovered of this individual at the intersection of Kentucky Alley and Madison Street. The name here could be Fat. O'Connor or Pat O'Connor.

The Powers

              An obituary for Williams Powers appeared in the Daily Pantagraph August 28,1858 with no genealogical information. He was an associate of Mathew Hawks in his oil mill according to the map. 

The Provests

              Absolutely no record was uncovered for this individual at the intersection of Front and West  Streets. 

The Goodcups

              The local history, Good Old Times, states that Mr. Goodcup was a German who returned to the "city of broadbrims (Philadelphia)." His name appears in the Thomas Fell Daybook as one of his customers.

The Colburns

            Almost nothing is known of Dr. R M Colburn, except that his wife died in Peoria October 9, 1873. In a biography of Mrs. A M Noble, it was noted that Dr. Noble began his medical training under the direction of Dr. Colburn. 

The Coltons

            Wells Colton was an attorney in Bloomington. He partnered with David Davis, an acquaintance from the Lenox Academy in Massachusetts. Wells Colton decided to pursue his practice in St. Louis in 1845 or 1846 and moved to that city. He was killed during the great fire of St. Louis in 1849. His biography in the McLean County Transactions did not indicate that Colton was married.

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