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Robert and Thomas Chinery, Mercer County

Robert C. Chinery was sent West in 1869, at the age of 13. He wrote a comprehensive history of his life in 1892 and sent it to the Asylum.

Robert first lived with Gilbert Ives, a farmer near New Boston, Mercer County. He recalled that he had become impatient with his indenture and that Mr. Ives released him from the indenture and hired him for wages. Robert stayed for five years working for wages and then took his savings further west. He went through his money quickly and returned to New Boston to find help from Mr. Ives. He did find that help again with Mr. Ives and once again saved money to buy his own farm.

After Robert earned enough money-- $1,100 -- he married Ethel Camp and bought a farm in Iowa on the opposite side of the Mississippi from New Boston sometime before 1880. (New Boston is on a bend of the Mississippi River at the Iowa border.) He farmed his land for three successive years, never making money because of flooding from the river. His first wife and child died after the failure of the farm, and Mr. Chinery gave up farming to learn the barbering trade in New Boston.

He married again in 1885, to Clarissa Garrett and by 1892 had four more children. He was living in New Boston and working as a barber from 1883 to 1892. He wrote this letter to advise the boys and girls to stay in their homes throughout their indentures.

In 1900 Robert Chinery appeared in the census as a saloonkeeper -- NOT employment the Asylum would have approved. It was noted that Robert could both read and write. His children were Thomas, Vere, Beulah, Sarah, Fred, and Celia. In 1910 and 1920 Robert was a grocery store owner in New Boston, and he owned his home. His wife died in 1921, and Robert died in February 1941. Although no obituary could be found, a notice appeared, stating that Beulah Livingstone, his daughter, was Robert's sole heir. Only one of his children had out lived Robert, and several had lived with him into their adulthood. Robert is buried in the New Boston Cemetery.

Perhaps if an obituary could be found it would have named Robert's brother, Thomas, who also lived in Mercer County and had been an orphan train rider as well.

In 1900 Thomas and Emma Rickard had been married six years and had no children and were living on a rented farm in Mercer County. It was noted that Thomas could neither read nor write, but that he spoke English. In 1910 they were still farming another man's land in Mercer County, but they had a daughter, Noda, who was eight years old. It was not until 1940 that Thomas and Emma were living on a farm that they owned.

Thomas died March 18 1944 in Millersburg, Illinois. He widowed his wife, Emma Rickard Chinery and was 81 years old. He was buried in the Mannon Cemetery in Mannon, IL.

Both brothers reported that their parents were Thomas Henry Chinery and Sarah Scott, immigrants from England. No information has been discovered about the demise of Thomas Sr. or Sarah Chinery.


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