5 Jul 2005
Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside County, IL
Originally published 1885 Chapman Bros., Chicago, IL
Transcribed by: Becky Jones
William Ramsay, general farmer and stockgrower on section 2, Hume Township, is a representative of the days of first things of a permanent character in the township where he has lived about 46 years. David Ramsay, his father, was born in 1787, in Londonderry, N.H., and was a member of one of the Scotch-Irish families who emigrated to that place from a place of the same name in the North of Ireland prior to the War of the Revolution. The grandfather of Horace Greeley and the progenitors of General Stark were of the same race. William Ramsay, father of David, was born in Londonderry, and went with his son to Caledonia Co., Vt., where his life terminated. The son (David) was a young man when he went to Vermont, and he was there married to Lydia, daughter of Luther and Hannah (Wilson) Butler. The family was of long-continued standing in New England. They were farmers, and in their old age they went to Oneida Co., N.Y., where they died, at a greatly advanced age. The marriage occurred in 1812, and about a year later the removal to Oneida County was effected. In 1840, David Ramsay removed his family to Whiteside County, settling in the township of Hume. They were among the first settlers in the township, who made a permanent location, and they settled on a claim on section 10. David Ramsay died in February, 1852, aged 65 years. The mother died at Prophetstown, in the fall of 1859, at 69 years of age.
Mr. Ramsay was born Feb. 16, 1815, in Oneida Co., N.Y., where he remained until he reached his majority, engaged in the acquisition of his education in the public schools and in practical farming. After becoming 21 years old, he worked for his father by the year for the three subsequent years. He had four brothers and sisters, and is the oldest child. Hannah M., his sister, was 15 months his junior, and she died in Hume Township, unmarried. She was 26 years of age. Luther B. Ramsay is a resident of Prophetstown. (See sketch of F.D. Ramsay.) Euphemia J. married and is a resident of Hopkins Township. Lydia A. is also married and lives in Prophetstown.
When he was 24 years of age, Mr. Ramsay secured a team and set out alone for Illinois, then “the West.” He thus made his way to Buffalo, where he took passage on a boat. He made the acquaintance of Sidney Barber, a passenger like himself (now living in Whiteside County), and they came together to Cleveland, proceeding thence by land to Whiteside County, reaching Rock Falls Oct. 18, 1839. They found hospitable quarters with L.H. Woodworth, of whom a personal account is elsewhere given. Mr. Ramsay boarded with Mr. Woodworth until March 24, 1840, when he settled on 160 acres of land in Hume Township. He made a pre-emption claim, and boarded with a man in the vicinity, who lived in a sod house, while he entered vigorously into the work of converting the raw prairie acres into fertile fields. He was the first permanent settler in the township. In the summer of 1840 he built a house, of which his parents took possession on their arrival in the fall of the same year, and of which he was also an occupant. The place is on section 10. Mr. Ramsay continued to work the place until his marriage, which transpired Feb. 3, 1845, in Lee Co., Ill., to Lucy, daughter of Bradford and Anna (Barnes) Church. Her father was a native of Chenango Co., N.Y., and her mother was born in Litchfield Co., Conn. The father of Mrs. Church was a mechanic, and an Ensign in the Revolutionary War. The marriage of the parents took place in Cortland Co., N.Y., and they went to Chenango County, in that State, where Mrs. Ramsay was born in Oxford Township, March 30, 1820. She had one brother and three sisters, all of whom are deceased. They were named Jane E., Elizabeth E., Fitche M. and Frederick R. They came to Lee Co., Ill., in the fall of 1841, and there the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay occurred. In 1876 her parents became inmates of her home in Hume Township. Her father died Dec. 26, 1884, and was 89 years old. Her mother died in October of the same year, aged 86. They spent 65 years of married life together, and were separated by death but a few weeks. They were active and consistent members of the Congregational Church. Mrs. Ramsay is their oldest child, and the only one who survived them. She has had five children: William F. married Alida Kleepsie, and lives in Mitchell Co., Kan. (They have two children,--David M. and Royal R.) Kate, Elizabeth and Luman live at home. Mrs. Ramsay had been a teacher from the age of 15 years to her marriage She was educated at Oxford Academy, in Chenango County, which was one of the best schools of that period. The Ramsays resided on section 10 for seven years, when they went to Como for the purpose of educating their children, and were resident there seven years. In the fall of 1858 the family took possession of a new farm purchased by the father, including 182 acres lying in the “Ox-Bow” of Rock River, below Como, In Hume Township, and situated on sections 2,3, and 11. The homestead residence is situated on section 2, and is beautifully located near the river. The entire property was unimproved, and the work of transformation has been all done by the proprietor. One of the most noticeable belongings of the household is a finely selected library, all its members being readers of sense and judgment. Mrs. Ramsay is interested in the progress of the Congregational Church, of which she is a member. Mr. Ramsay is an active and zealous Republican.
Mr. Ramsay was the first individual to assume the bonds of matrimony in Hume Township. His sister, Hannah Maria, died in the fall of 1842, and her demise was the first event of that character in the township.