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Purcells and Brenners in the 1850's and 1860's
The Tampico Area Historical Society encompasses parts of Whiteside County and Bureau County in Illinois. Focus is on Tampico, Hume Twp., Hahnaman/Deer Grove, & Prophetstown in Whiteside County & Yorktown & Thomas in Bureau County.
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1 post
May 27, 2012
5:54 PM
I'm looking for two families with possible connections to Yorktown, Prophetstown, Annawan, Geneseo, and Princeton. Lack of records in the 1850-1870 timeframe have made it difficult for me to be sure just where they lived. All I know for sure is that my great grandfather Jacob Brenner enlisted at Annawan, and that he and his wife Annie (Purcell) Brenner lived in Yorktown Twp, Henry County in 1870. By one account they were married in Prophetstown, but the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index says they were married in Bureau County (in 1868). By another account Annie was born near Princeton, but Annie 's parents (Nicholas Purcell and Johanna (Gleason) Purcell) reportedly came to Geneseo around 1850. I've found nothing to support the Purcells' presence in either location. If you have information on any Purcells or Brenners in this area, please let me know. I have a great deal of information on their relatives and subsequent lives, but nothing on their stay in the Henry/Whiteside/Bureau area.


866 posts
May 27, 2012
9:28 PM
Hi John,
I did some checking on your family to try to get a clear picture. I'm going to post it here so I can have it in one place while I continue to search.
1870 United States Federal Census about Jacob Brenner
Name: Jacob Brenner
Age in 1870: 24
Birth Year: abt 1846
Birthplace: Illinois
Home in 1870: Yorktown, Henry, Illinois
Race: White
Gender: Male
Household Members: Name Age
Jacob Brenner 24
Anna Brenner 20, b. IL (1850)
E F Brenner 1 female, b. IL

1880 United States Federal Census about Jacob Brenner
Name: Jacob Brenner
Age: 34
Birth Year: abt 1846
Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Home in 1880: Summit, Adair, Iowa
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Self (Head)
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Anna Brenner
Father's Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Mother's Birthplace: Pennsylvania
Occupation: Farmer
Household Members: Name Age
Jacob Brenner 34
Anna Brenner 29
Ella Brenner 10
Stella Brenner 8
James Brenner 3m
Joanna Percell 45, mother-in-law, b. abt 1835, Ireland, widowed

1900 United States Federal Census about Annie E Brenner
Name: Annie E Brenner
Age: 48
Birth Date: Mar 1852
Birthplace: Illinois
Home in 1900: Des Moines, Polk, Iowa
Race: White
Gender: Female
Relation to Head of House: Wife
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Jacob Brenner
Marriage Year: 1868
Years Married: 32
Father's Birthplace: Ireland
Mother's Birthplace: Ireland
Mother: number of living children: 5
Mother: How many children: 5
Household Members: Name Age
Jacob Brenner 52
Annie E Brenner 48
Ella F Brenner 26
Stella A Brenner 23
James E Brenner 20
Roy J Brenner 17
Marie Brenner 7
Hattie Arnold 25

Massachusetts Marriages, 1633-1850 about Nicholas Purcell
Name: Nicholas Purcell
Gender: Male
Spouse: Johanna Gleason
Marriage Date: 10 Jan 1849
City: Lowell
County: Middlesex
Source: Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, Film # 0927928.

1870 United States Federal Census about Joana Purcell
Name: Joana Purcell
Age in 1870: 35
Birth Year: abt 1835
Birthplace: Ireland
Home in 1870: Yorktown, Henry, Illinois
Race: White
Gender: Female
Household Members: Name Age
Joana Purcell 35
M E Purcell 13, B. IL
Mary A Purcell 12, B. IL
C F Purcell 9, B. IL
John N Purcell 8, B. IL
Allen Purcell 7, B. IL

Iowa, State Census 1885 about Joanna Purcell
Name: Joanna Purcell
Age: 51
Gender: F (Female)
Birth Country: Ireland
Location: Block 7
Marital Status: W
Father's Nativity: F
Mother's Nativity: F
Line Number: 10
Dwelling Number: 15
Family Number: 14
Page Number: 566
State: IA
County: Adair
Township Name: Summit
Town: Adair
Family History Film: 1021316
Volume: 141

1938 - Mary Agnes Purcell Booth Thackaberry

Submitted by Melva Taylor

The Sterling Daily Gazette, Sterling, Illinois
February 17, 1938 - Thursday


Committal Services For Mrs. Mary Thackaberry At Pleasant Ridge[aka: Shadytown/Sandytown Cemetery]

The body of Mrs. Mary Agnes Thackaberry arrived at the Dudley funeral chapel in Prophetstown, Wednesday morning, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Funeral services were conducted Tuesday at Sioux Falls.

Committal services were held Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock at Pleasant Ridge cemetery, west of Prophetstown. Rev. Father A. M. Weitekamp of St. Catherine's Catholic church officiated. The pallbearers were Mark Langdon and Frank Graham of Sterling; Frank Thackaberry of Thomas; and Louis Zschiesche, F. P. Dudley and Glenn Graham of Prophetstown.

Mary Agnes Purcell Booth Thackaberry was born April 5, 1857, at Annawan, Illinois. Her parents were Nicholas and Johanna Gleason Purcell. She was married to Edwin Booth March 3, 1878, who died August 6, 1888. She was then married to Alec Thackaberry, who died October 13, 1935.

She is survived by one son, Wayne Thackaberry of New York city; one daughter, Mrs. Katherine Donahue of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; one step-son, E. A. Thackaberry of Los Angeles, California; a sister, Mrs. Alice Berger of Lincoln, Nebraska, and eleven grandchildren. One step-son preceded her in death.

The deceased was a resident of Thomas for a number of years. She was a sister-in-law of Mrs. Addie Dillon of Prophetstown. Relatives from a distance who attended burial services here, were Mrs. Katherine Donahue and daughters, Misses Mildred and Helen Donahue of Sioux Falls, Mrs. Alice Berger of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Wayne Thackaberry of New York.

A site search on our website yields a 1876 Yorktown General Store ledger noting a John Purcell. See Yorktown General Store Ledger

Last Edited by on May 28, 2012 1:41 PM
867 posts
May 28, 2012
3:33 PM
1870 United States Federal Census about Jacob Brenner
Name: Jacob Brenner
Age in 1870: 24
Birth Year: abt 1846
Birthplace: Illinois
Home in 1870: Yorktown, Henry, Illinois
Race: White
Gender: Male
Household Members:
Name Age
Jacob Brenner 24
Anna Brenner 20
E F Brenner

Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 about Jacob Brenner
Name: Jacob Brenner
Birth Year: abt 1846
Birth Place: Pennsylvania
Gender: Male
Marital Status: Married
Census Date: 1885
Residence State: Iowa
Residence County: Adair
Locality: Summit
Roll: IA1885_141
Line: 8
Family Number: 7
Household Members: Name Age
Jacob Brenner 39
Annie E Brenner 35
Ella F Brenner 15
Steller A Brenner 13
James E Brenner 4
Geo J Brenner 2

Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 about Jacob Baner
Name: Jacob Baner
[Jacob Brenner]
Birth Year: abt 1847
Birth Place: Pennsylvania
Gender: Male
Race: White
Census Date: 1895
Residence County: Adair
Locality: Adair
Roll: IA1885_284
Line: 27
Family Number: 73
Household Members: Name Age
Jacob Baner 48
Annie E Baner 44
Ella F Braner 24
Stella A Braner 22
James E Braner 15
George J Braner 12
Marie Braner 2

Includes Whiteside, Bureau, and Henry Counties
Extracted from ISA Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database

Name Rank Co Unit Residence


868 posts
May 28, 2012
4:10 PM
I'm not sure what years of plat books we have for Bureau County, but I will check on my next trip to the Historical Society.


I don't know if you are from this area. The tri-counties of Whiteside, Bureau & Henry County abut each other and can be confusing sometimes. Prophetstown twp is very close to the borders. As for Yorktown - There is Yorktown in Fairfield Twp. in Bureau County. This abuts Yorktown Twp. in Henry County. So, I am not too surprised that you have two locations listed from those areas. You may want to contact the Bureau County Genealogical Society. They have indexed all of their newspapers and have a cardex file on all of the surnames up to 1920. BCGS
I've engaged the help of a lady that is doing extensive research in Henry County and will post her findings.

Last Edited by on May 28, 2012 4:31 PM
869 posts
May 29, 2012
6:55 AM
Henry County Birth index book made by the Henry County Genealogical Society:
Name of Child: Mae Mathews, Female
Father: John Purcell
Mother/Maiden: Martha Harrison
DOB: Nov. 13, 1890, Henry Co., IL

Marjorie Elizabeth, Female
Father; John Purcell
Mother: Martha Mary Harrison
DOB: Feb.1, 1899

Mary Anita, Female
Heryer E
Mother: Mary Francis Anthony
DOB: Mar 10, 1905

Maurice Evans, male
Father: John
Mother: Martha Mary Harrison
DOB: July 7, 1894

Mother: Martha M. Harrison
DOB: July 2, 1889

Father: Heryer
Mother: Frances A. Anthony
DOB: June 21, 1909

Father: John
mother: Martha M Harrison
DOB: Feb 19, 1886
(submitted by Robin Pardus)
2 posts
Aug 17, 2012
12:02 PM

Thanks very much for your efforts. I forgot that this site does not auto-respond, and didn't see your replies until yesterday.

Much of the background info that you dug up is indeed for my Brenners and Purcells. I had almost all of it, but was interested to see the ledger entry for John Purcell. I knew that the Brenners left the Yorktown area sometime between 1872 and 1880, and suspected the latter half of the decade. The ledger entry suggests that it was no sooner than 1876. In fact, another entry on the same page for A. Booth ties in nicely with the fact that he bought land in Adair, Iowa in 1876. He was a known associate of the Brenners.

The birth records for John Purcell and Martha Harrison were unknown to me. I am not sure this was "my" John Purcell, and will be looking into that. Thanks again.

3 posts
Aug 17, 2012
12:27 PM
Checked on John Pursell (husband of Martha Harrison) and Rowland Pursell, son of Heryer E Pursell. These are not "my" Purcells. I still don't know the whereabouts of Nicholas Purcell after about 1850 or his son John N. Purcell between 1885 and 1910. The search continues...
877 posts
Aug 18, 2012
8:07 PM
I forgot to check our 1893 Whiteside County plat book directory. We also have Bureau Co. Plats with Directories, but not sure what years. I'll check on my next trip to Tampico. Have you contacted the Bureau County Genealogical Society? They have indexed all of they county newspapers and keep a card file on all the names. They may have information for you. Do you have their #? If not, click on our Table of Contents link at top of page. Scroll down to County Information and click on Bureau Co. That will provide a link to their webiste with contact information. If you can't find it, let me know and Iwill provide a link in this msg. thread.
4 posts
Aug 20, 2012
6:15 PM

Yes, I've contacted BCGS. They weren't able to find anything. I forgot to mention that I also have a mention of the small community of Thomas, a few miles south of Yorktown. Other than that, I don't have any more leads than I've already relayed to you. It's very puzzling that these families were in the area for at least 25 years (about 1850 - 1876) but left so few traces. Thanks...John
879 posts
Aug 22, 2012
6:06 AM
@ John - Oh yes, I am familiar with the little town of Thomas. Aka: Sodtown ONe of our members grew up there. Anyway, I am on my way to Historical Society today, so I will check out the plat books and report back. Thanks for your patience! Denise
880 posts
Aug 22, 2012
12:03 PM
I'm at the Historical Society now. I've checked the 1872 Plat book for Whiteside county. No BRENNER, No PURCELL. There is an A. Booth, Prophetstown, land-owner in Section 29. Will check Bureau & Henry books next. Stay tuned.
881 posts
Aug 22, 2012
2:19 PM
1877 Voters & Tax-Payers of Bureau County, IL = No listings for any township for Brenner or Purcell.
5 posts
Aug 26, 2012
3:31 PM
Thanks again. I do have one additional clue, for which I've never been able to find any supporting documents. According to one story, Johanna (Gleason) Purcell, wife of John Purcell and mother of Anna, supposedly was married in Geneseo. Whether or not she moved to Geneseo first with her parents, I don't know. I don't have a date, but it would been about 1850, when she was about 17 years old. I actually have a marriage record from Massachusetts that I think is theirs, which is why I've always discounted this story - also because I've never found any record of the Gleasons in the Henry County area at that time.

Maybe one of these days I'll stumble across another clue.
882 posts
Aug 29, 2012
10:36 PM
John, I contacted a friend, Robin Pardus, in Henry County to check on marriages there. This is what she found:

Yes I have the marriage books printed by the HC Genealogy Society. I do not find a john Purcell and Joahann Gleason but I do show a John Pursell and Martha M. Harrison marrying on 10-7-1885 lic#2202
I found a Joanna Purcell marrying a Henry Tonkinson 12-15-1867 Lic#294

Last Edited by on Aug 30, 2012 5:23 AM
6 posts
Sep 04, 2012
11:17 AM
Thanks, Denise

The record for John Pursell and Martha Harrison is the one we've discussed before, not related to my Purcells. I had the 1867 marriage of Joanna Purcell to Henry Tonkinson, and despite many past efforts, I haven't confirmed that this was "my" Johanna. I do know that my Johanna (Gleason) Purcell was enumerated in 1870 and thereafter many times as a Purcell.
883 posts
Sep 04, 2012
12:01 PM
@John, Well, if she was enumerated in 1870 as Purcell, and the Tonkinson marriage was in 1867, that pretty much rules it out as the same Johanna. Unless, it was a brief marriage - she may have married briefly, then gone back to her married name that was same as children. I've seen that done before. It would be nice to see an obit for "Mrs. Henry Tonkinson." The search continues...

Last Edited by on Sep 04, 2012 12:02 PM
7 posts
Sep 11, 2013
10:37 AM
Update: I still haven't found more on Nicholas Purcell, but did confirm with near certainty that his wife Johanna (Gleeson) Purcell had a brother James who lived in Henry County with his family in the same time period. He moved at some point from Sharon to Geneseo. I believe the Gleeson family immigrated to the Boston area in 1847 from Montreal, and found likely family members in the Montreal city directories of the early 1840's. They originated in Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland.


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TAMPICO AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY - MUSEUM - FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY/RESEARCH CENTER  119 Main St., P. O. Box 154,  Tampico, IL  61283   www.tampicohistoricalsociety.com   tampicohistoricalsociety@gmail.com  President Joan Johnson, 815-438-7581 or garyjoan@thewisp.net  Family History Coordinator, Denise McLoughlin 815-718-3617. We are an all-volunteer organization so your donations are always appreciated!  Sign up to receive our e-newsletter. Thank you!  Visit us on FACEBOOK, too.