Houses in History – Abraham Illk House

IMG_3203Growing up, our first ‘house’ was really a trailer in my Aunt’s yard.  When I reached second grade my parents bought a historic home that had history that included my family.  The Abraham Illk house.  It was currently owned by Ralph Goodrich.  At the time my parents bought it with most of the contents included.

The house had over time been added to and changed.  The original house was made from bricks made in the nearby woods, and hadn’t included electricity or even a regular kitchen.

The house by the time we owned it, had electricity added, plumbing for the kitchen and one bathroom was stuck onto the side of the house.  The window in the picture is where the door to the lean to was.  My parents added a bathroom upstairs and a half bath downstairs, then took the lean to of the house and replaced all the windows.

Over time they also added an attached garage to the house and redid most of the inside. My brother now has taken over the house and has been working on it room by room.

The history of the house starts with the house being built by Abraham Illk.  It’s in the Lakeshore School District in Oakwood Illinois.  Abraham lived from 1835 to 1916 and was from Germany – married to Catherine Ford.  As far as my family, Abraham and Catherine’s daughter Frannie married my grandfather’s twin brother, Lesley. I’ve mentioned the house and Catherine’s history before.

Growing up I’ll always remember though how strong the house seemed.  Inside the house nothing could be heard from outside. My father would say that the house has been standing for 100 years and will be standing for 100 years more.  Ralph Goodrich was related to the family also through the daughter Catherine who married a Goodrich.

Tried to e-mail you, Jeff but didn’t go through. – just happened to find your post on Uncle Samuel Illk – don’t know much about him, but do have some records that I got from Ralph Goodrich – whose mother was Catherine Illk, daughter of Abraham Illk of Vermillion County, Illinois. She married George Goodrich, and lived s.west of Oakwood on the Illk farms. My mother, Ethel Illk Oakwood was the daughter of Frederick Illk and Mary Watson Illk – my grandfather Fred was a brother to Abraham, the first Illk brother to come to America. So Aunt Kate, as my mother called her was a first cousin to my grandfather; and Ralph and my mom and uncle, Glenn Illk were second cousins. We were very close to Uncle Ralph as we called him. …. –from ancestry boards

The house was not huge, but to me as a child it looked huge!  Now going back, I’m surprised at how much smaller it was than I though it was.  The house originally had four bedrooms upstairs that, three that we used and one that my dad turned into a hodge podge of rooms that included a full bathroom, a closet, a gun shell loading room, and a hallway.  The area included a window that looked out over one of my parents fields.  The house wasn’t built with closets originally – when the house was built houses were taxed based on the number of rooms and closets counted as rooms, so my parents paneled every bedroom adding a closet at one end and drop ceilings to lower the ceilings to a more normal height.

My brother and I had a great time with the drop ceilings using them to play hide and seek.  The main rule was that you had to stay on the cross beams holding up the tiles.  One wrong step and you would be in the room below.  There were at least a couple tiles stapled up to fix missteps.  We would climb up the shelves in our closets and disappear. The top of my brother’s closet was huge and became a hang out for a while.  There are probably still little odds and ends up on the ceilings in some of the rooms.

To add conventional heat my parents used the vent work that was in the house as much as possible.  The old house had some vents in place for coal in the basement in order to circulate air, but they were few and far between.  My parents put in vents up the side of rooms in the downstairs under the paneling going up to the upstairs and added heat.  Later they included an air conditioner when they found my hay fever was too much for them to bare living with.  After a few years they added an option for a wood burning furnace.  – We split our own wood and added a wood burning stove to the kitchen also.

The house was always in a state of flux.  To finish off the upstairs, my parents wanted a better way to reach the attic.  The original house had a little square in the ceiling with a metal ladder that was in the hallway at the top of the stairs.  I never saw in the attic myself.  My dad though came up with the idea to build a set of stairs up to the attic out of their bedroom closet.  – My parents had the one room upstairs that was built with a closet originally.  So my dad removed one side of the closet and put in plywood over the stairs at a slant.  I think each project started during the winter and came to an end at harvest season.  This was one that never started up again.  So the plywood slant over the stairs became a place to store clothes and things for my parents.

Downstairs, my parents, added a wood burning stove in the kitchen, redid the kitchen, and I remember them frequently moving where the doorway was for the living room.  It reminds me a little of the Winchester House when I think of my childhood and my parents never finishing our house. My brother now is redoing the house.  He is doing a beautiful job and hopefully will finish in his lifetime.

On the wood burning stove I remember my mother making deer jersey and even maple syrup from the trees in our yard.  We even had a few instances of my mother raising chickens in our kitchen.  I’ll also never forget the day my mother caught the house on fire with dry wood in the fireplace.   My mother was burning wood that was really dry and the fire got extremely hot.  The supports under the bricks in front of the fireplace caught on fire and the fire department was called.  My dad had already gotten the fire out, but all the firemen had to trek through the house and check.

There is also the day that my mother got a new dryer.  My dad let my brother and I disassemble the old one… and play with all the parts.  When the new one arrived, the turn to the basement was 2 inches to small.  The delivery person said he couldn’t get it down the stair without the 2 inches…. So my mother got a hammer.  I think the delivery person about panicked, when my mother said are you sure you just need 2 inches? and then proceeded to make 2 inches more out of the wall (with the hammer!).

The basement was another great place to play in the house.  I think my brother now uses it for haunted houses but for us kids it was pretty cool.  There were three rooms, one that contained the hot water heater – we just never seemed to enter, one that we played school in with some old school desks mom found (and we kept our hamsters there for a while), and the laundry room which included a furnace that took up half the room.  The stairs were old rickety wooden stairs that seemed fine as a child, but looking back….  My mother stored old lunchboxes and things under the stairs.  To the right of the bottom of the stairs was an open door that went to dirt steps going up to the floor of the kitchen.

I remember my cat having kittens under the kitchen and having to climb up every so often to check on them.  The steps originally went out of the house and out to the old summer kitchen which was long gone by the time we got there.  There were a few other places that the foundation was open to the dirt.  With a shovel, I don’t think you could ever get completely trapped in the basement – which probably explains the mice that were always getting in the house throughout my childhood.


Corbley Vs. Wilson

Corbley Vs. WilsonAs I search for information about why my ancestor Corbley lost his farm, I find information on a lawsuit filed by a person named Wilson  against Corbley for slander.  The case went on to be used as a foundation of law as it was reversed by the supreme court at one point.  The law review book shown here describes the case as being originally lost by Corbley when Wilson presented a court case of the act Corbley had ‘accused’ him of and that the end result of the criminal case was not guilty.

When the case was appealed at the supreme court it was decided that the result of the criminal case had no baring on the slander case, so the original finding was reversed.

IMG_2471 IMG_2473 IMG_2474Each time the case was decided or reversed the case at the time made the paper being big news at the time. I haven’t found so far where to find the specifics of the trial case – what was Corbley accused of saying about Wilson?  I do know that Edward Corbley’s brother Lindsey was a lawyer and would have been surprised if he had not taken on a case involving his brother.  From what I know now, the plaintiff in a case normal doesn’t have to pay out until all appeals are resolved… So I would think from all of this that Corbley never had to pay out to Wilson. Lawyer fees would have been another matter.

None of the articles I’ve found so far include Wilson’s  full name or the crime he was originally accused of. I’m not completely positive of the year also….

The Supreme Court case was decided in 1878 (10/7) and in the paper is listed as Edward Corbley vs. Benj. Wilson.  So I am guessing Wilson’s name was Benjamin.  Muncie had been platted in 1875 and Corbley’s farm was sold for bankruptcy in 1881 (Sept).  Corbley was next found in Missouri in 1884.  His residence was listed in Missouri at the time he passed away in Illinois in 1891.  Interestingly enough his wife passed away in 1885 in Kankakee Illinois.  My great grandmother (their daughter) had married just a few years before (1882), so it may have been that Mary Ann Littler Corbley stayed, not wanting to leave her daughter and new grandchildren.  She may also have been in ill health.  Kankakee was the location of a hospital at the time.  Maybe even the selling of the farm caused health issues?


Same Names through History?

When looking up family history I keep running into family with the same name.  The most recent is Edwin Littler.  Edwin Littler is my g-grandfather a few generations ago – Mary Ann Littler (wife of Edward Corbly)’s father – his son is also Edwin Littler.  edwin

In Stearns Cemetery is the tombstone for Edwin Littler with no birth or death information.  It does include information about Civil War Service though.

Edwin Littler (the son) – 1843-1862  can be found in the Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Roll Database .

Edwin is listed as being in the 125th Il US Infantry which matches his tombstone.  He joined August 11,1882, mustered September 3, 1862 and was declared dead on November 25, 1862 at Bowling Green, KY.  It includes that he was 19, with black hair, light complexion, dark eyes, and was 5’8″.

Not knowing a lot about the battles in the civil war I am lost as far as cause of death.  According to a civil war driving tour write up:

By late 1861, Bowling Green became the heart of the Confederacy’s efforts in Kentucky. The new year brought serious worries to the Confederate occupation force. A Union victory at Mill Springs in Eastern Kentucky, on January 19, 1862, and General Grant’s victories at Forts Henry and Donelson to the west, made Bowling Green untenable for the Confederates. Union General Don Carlos Buell advanced his Army of the Ohio southward from the Green River. Under the command of General Ormsby Mitchel, Bowling Green was bombarded from across the Barren River. The Confederate army evacuated the city, and by mid-February 1862, the city fell into Union hands. Federal troops controlled Bowling Green and Kentucky for the rest of the war. By 1864, there was a vigorous effort by the federal government to recruit and enlist slaves in Kentucky. Bowling Green and seven other military camps were designated to receive and protect those recruits. Source

This makes me wonder if there was a push in November by the Confederate army to take back Bowling Green, or possibly Edwin was sent out with troops to take more ground and wounded in battle – returned to Bowling Green for care and to ultimately pass away.

Edwin’s father, also being named Edwin was more difficult to find in history.  He had moved from Ohio, bringing the young Edwin as a child, and set up residence in Vermilion County. Some database records have him recorded as Edward also, making identification a more difficult task. Currently I’ve identified Edwin the father in the 1840 and the 1850 census files.

Verifying that ancestors with the same name and place can be difficult.  When in doubt I have been linking information to both individuals and editing later.  Not the most ideal, but definitely helpful to keep from losing information.  Original sources are critical also.

Edwin and Ella Corbley

I always wonder when I find information about infants that died and what the circumstances were.  My ancestor Edward Corbly that I have been researching had an interesting case in his history.  My ancestor, his daughter Julia was the only surviving daughter.  In the family bible though is listed a set of twins, interesting and conflicting information is found after that.  With children that died as babies or toddlers, often only family anecdotal information, or gravestones are available.

The bible looked to me as if the twins were born on September 4, 1860 and passing out of this life on September 4, 1862.  I normally would have assumed that they died in childbirth if i wasn’t for the 2 year gap (exactly 2 years for both making it very confusing).  For twins to die on their birthdate, and both on the same day seems highly unusual.  My g-grandmother then was born in 1863.3bf9fe0b-4b52-44f4-bc04-8332ee657c64

To add to the confusion, someone that has added the gravestones (no pictures) to FindaGrave, has added Edwin as d. 9/4/1862 and Ella d. 9/4/1892.  This is in Tomlinson Cemetery in Illinois (Champaign County).  There are no other records of Ella, including in the 1870 census, so I’m sure that the death date from her tombstone is a typo, with the family bible verifying this.  This is still a family mystery that is lost to time.d1d812da-69e0-4953-b54d-38f6cbd5bda2

Interestingly enough family lore has it that Julia went on to have a stillborn baby that was then buried in the copse of trees by the road on the old Eldridge homestead – land that went on to belong to my parents.  The story is that the baby was wrapped in a baby blanket and buried shortly after being stillborn.

Later I did do more research and after realizing that Ella and Edwin’s parents got married in 1861 I looked very closely at the birth date. I’m now sure it’s really 1862.  Stillbirth explains the mystery.


Religious Freedom….

As the question is raised time and time again recently I am brought back to the question I asked previously (…..

In history the United States was founded based on separation of Church and State.  A large part of the reasons for the country involved people leaving England because the King of England was forcing his religion on the people within the country.  Ultimately a new country was founded to allow for that freedom and to protect those rights it was expressly written into the constitution that the people were free to choose.  (And this means choose what religion they believe in without being forced to follow anther’s beliefs. ) To ensure this freedom the government. To gain these rights the people went to war with the King of England and fought for our freedom.

To ensure that these rights were maintained and separation of church and state occurred – some states put in place laws that no ministers could serve office.  My ancestor being the first minister thrown out of office as a minister because of this.  We currently have people making the news making the argument that – People that don’t follow their religious beliefs can just go to another county (if you read country hear we can just go back over 200 years)….

I too am really getting tired of hearing the said person’s name and hearing her all over the news.  I’ve even seen opinion pages comparing her to Rosa Parks (The page said let Christians move to the front of the bus)….  The author obvious knows nothing about Rosa Parks history….. 1. heIMG_0743r seat was in the colored section in the front of the bus. 2. she didn’t give up her seat because she was tired – it had nothing to do with moving from the back of the bus to the front.  The segregation case was Brown vs. the Board of Education and involved school busing to the ‘white schools’.

I do want to quit hearing this in the news, but I also want everyone to have equal rights under the law.  The current case going on isn’t a case of someone being forced not to practice her own religion – it’s a case of someone trying to force others to practice her religion.

Whatever you believe in….  I think everyone should agree that kindness to strangers and treat others and you would like them to treat you should play into this.  I can’t think of one person I know that would say they haven’t done something at one point of another that they would do differently if doing it again.


Lindsey Corbley – Edward Corbley’s Brother

I am including the Lindsey Corbley exert here from “A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois”.  I find it very interesting that Edward isn’t mentioned here, yet there is land in Vermilion County (Edward owned land with his brother) and Cannon is mentioned – Edward’s land sold when it was foreclosed on to Cannon.  I still keep thinking there is so much to the story!

Source: Full text of “A Standard history of Champaign County Illinois : an authentic narrative of the past, with particular attention to the modern era in the commercial, industrial, civic and social development : a chronicle of the people, with family lineage and memoirs





Supervising Editor


Assisted by a Board of Advisory Editors


LINDSEY CORBLY. The activities of Lindsey Corbly go far back into the pioneer history of Champaign County. He was here over sixty years ago and he endured the ordeals of life on the frontier. The years have visited his efforts with abundant prosperity. Material possessions have been only part of the riches of his experience. He has lived a life of honor, peace and industry, and now in his declining years, in his home at Paxton, he enjoys the esteem of both old and young.

Mr. Corbly was born at Garrard’s Fort in Greene County, Pennsylvania, the third son of William and Rebecca (Stephens) Corbly, also natives of  Pennsylvania. The records of the Corbly family go far back into pioneer days of the Pennsylvania colony. His grandfather, Rev. John Corbly, was a pioneer Baptist minister along the frontier line of western Pennsylvania. He was a native of England, but had come to America before the Revolution and first settled in western Virginia and afterwards in Greene County, Pennsylvania. He was instrumental in building the first church at Garrard’s Fort. This was a log building and other edifices followed it, while in 1909 the congregation erected their fourth church home, a brick edifice dedicated that year and named the John Corbly Memorial Church. The name was fittingly bestowed to honor one of the most devoted churchmen of the West. The proposition had been long discussed as to some appropriate memorial to this good and worthy man, and it was finally decided to erect a church which would stand for years and recall his good deeds and unselfish labors.


Rev. John Corbly was three times married. His first wife was a cousin of President Tvler. The fate of his second wife will be mentioned presently. His third wife was a daughter of Colonel Andrew Lynn, who served with that rank in the Revolutionary War. It was his daughter Nancy Ann who married Rev. John Corbly, and she was the grandmother of Mr. Lindsey Corbly of Champaign County. Mr. Corbly in his home at Paxton has a book, entitled “Chronicles of Border Warfare,” published at Clarksburg, Virginia, in 1831. The pages of that work contain the record of a tragic incident in which Rev. John Corbly figured. It occurred on Muddy Creek, Pennsylvania, May 10, 1781. He and his wife and five children were on the way to church, the wife and children preceding, when a band of savages sprang up from the roadside and fell upon Mrs. Corbly and the children. The infant in the mother’s arms was the first victim. The mother was then struck several severe blows, and not falling, was shot through the body by a savage who had chased her husband. A little son six years old and two girls, two and four years of age, were also victims of the savage onslaught. The oldest daughter concealed herself in a fallen log and witnessed all that transpired. She came out before the Indians had retired, and was caught and slain. The only survivors of the massacre were the father and the two younger daughters, who by careful nursing were restored. Both of them grew up, though one died later as a result of the horrible treatment she had received. The other lived, married and reared a large family.


From this and other facts it is clear that the Corblys took a prominent part in the early days of western Pennsylvania. During the Centennial year a paper was published devoted to the prominent pioneer families of Pennsylvania and the Corblys were mentioned in the record.  Mr. Lindsey Corbly’s parents spent their lives in Pennsylvania and his father died in 1875 and his mother in 1855. Mr. Corbly acquired his education chiefly in the school of experience, and since the age of sixteen has made his own way in the world. For a time he worked for an uncle who had extensive interests as a live stock man in Ohio. While there he was paid wages of $7 a month. He soon became known as the “boss cattle driver” for his uncle. In those days live stock was never sent by railroad, but always driven overland. One of Mr. Corbly’s early experiences was taking a large herd of stock from Missouri to Philadelphia. Much of the country in the Middle West was then wild and infested with lawless people, and he not only experienced many difficulties in getting his stock safely over the natural difficulties of the road but also had to watch closely against highwaymen who sought his money and life.

Mr. Corbly came to Illinois in 1853. locating in Champaign County, but two years later going to Vermilion County as a farmer. In 1863 he located in Kerr Township of Champaign County and gradually built up a large enterprise as a farmer and stockman. At one time he owned over 1,700 acres of land and his business as a land holder and stockman made his name familiar all over central Illinois.

Mr. Corbly has always manifested a public spirited interest in local affairs. In Kerr Township he served twenty years as township trustee, and was one of the members of the first election board at Gibson City and also a member of the first grand jury of Ford County. He was on the first board of commissioners who divided Ford Countv into townships and was a member of the board of supervisors when the University of Illinois located at Champaign. Politically he began voting as a Whig and became an original Republican at the formation of that party over sixty years ago. He has always been staunchly aligned with this party and has been convinced that the best and most enduring principles of real democracy are expressed through the Republican party. Mr. Corbly has had many notable friendships with leading statesmen and many prominent Republicans, including Joe Cannon, have visited his home. He has always been a great admirer of Lincoln and has had personal acquaintance with Generals Sherman, Sheridan and Halleck. The spicy sayings of Lincoln have been treasured by him and have no doubt had their influence upon his life. One of these maxims which he has often quoted is “never trade horses while crossing the river.”

On moving to Kerr Township Mr. Corbly selected land which would be especially available for his stock interests. There he reared his family, built fine farm buildings, planted shade trees, and many improvements in that section stand as a monument to his labors and early enterprise.


Since December, 1875, Mr. Corbly has been an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He entered church work through the influence of J. D. Bodkin, now secretary of the State of Kansas, and Eev. James Goodspeed.

On February 24, 1856, Mr. Corbly married for his first wife Sarah Wood. She was born and reared in Vermilion County, Illinois, a daughter of Henry and Nancy Wood. Six children were born to this union, three of whom died in infancy. Those living are Henry L., William Sherman and James L. Henry L. Corbly married Julia B. Webber. He is now a retired farmer living at Paxton and his children are Mrs. Fay Flagg, Lindsey R. and Gladys. Lindsey Ross Corbly lives in Haywood Township and married Fay Goodwin of Ford County. Gladys Corbly is a sophomore in the Woman’s College of Jacksonville, Illinois.


William Sherman Corbly married Mary A. Yule of Saybrook, McLean County, Illinois, and they reside at Paxton. Their children are : George Y. and Lynn S. George Y. is a farmer in Button Township of Ford County and by his marriage to Jessie Jenkinson has a daughter, Virginia. Lynn S. Corbly is a graduate of the University of Illinois, a successful practicing attorney in Champaign County, and married Marguerite Clark of Paxton.  James L. Corbly married Ellen Sheehan of Ludlow. Their children are Frank, Ralph, “Jimmie Lee,” Owen, Ray, Elmer, Marguerite and Pauline (twins), and Irene. Of these Frank married Belle Jackson and they reside on a farm adjoining his father. Owen Corbly married Vesta Wampler and is also a farmer living near his father.


The mother of these children and first wife of Mr. Corbly entered into rest January 17, 1866, after ten years of married life. She was a good woman, a kind neighbor and a loving wife and mother. For his second wife Mr. Corbly married Mary A. Scholl. She was born near Saegerstown, Pennsylvania, daughter of Dr. Peter Scholl and Elizabeth (Woodring) Scholl of Crawford County, Pennsylvania. By Mr. Corbly’s second marriage the children are Fred M., Laura F. and Evelyn. Evelyn is the wife of P. A. Kemp of Los Angeles, California, who is a state officer of the Court of Honor. They have one son, Lynn, twelve years old. The mother of these children passed away March 10, 1907. On June 24, 1909, Mr. Corbly married Mrs. Emily Wait. She was born and reared in Vermilion County, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Copeland, natives of Ohio.


The daughter Laura F. married Oscar H. Wylie, a prominent Ford County lawyer, at Paxton, Illinois, who has filled numerous important public offices and for eight years was prosecuting attorney of Ford County, proving to be a fearless, honest public official. For four years he was Circuit Court clerk and recorder, at the time being one of the youngest officials in the state. Mr. and Mrs. Wylie have the following children: Mac, Howard, Evelyn, Emily and Francis. Mac, Howard and . Evelvn are all graduates of the Paxton High School, and Mac is a student in flip law department of the Northwestern University and also spent three years in DePauw University, in which latter institution Howard is, a student, and in the fall of 1917 Miss Evelyn proposes to enter. The two younger daughters attend the grade schools.


Ever since Mr. Corbly’s eightieth birthday it has been made an occasion of great family interest, one feature being the presentation of an immense bouquet of roses and chrysanthemums, his favorite flower, a blossom for every year, and another being the reading of a birthday poem composed by Mrs. Wylie. On the occasion of his eighty-fourth birthday, this tribute was so beautifully expressed and tenderly conceived that it deserves the prominence of an insertion in this history. In the midst of the loving family circle and with other friends present, Mr. Corbly listened to the following :


“Dear old father, with your beaming face,

Your kindly heart and whole-souled grace,

Your sterling worth as pioneer

Facing hardships without fear,

Always honest and square with the world,

Your banner for good ever unfurled,

That’s a record worth while, I say,

For this, your eighty-fourth birthday.


“Also, dear father, sweet is to me

The memory of thy charity;

Thy childlike faith in God and man,

Surprised at evil where thou didst find;

Hating deceit with all thy heart

Because for you was the honest part,

That’s a record worth while, I say,

For this, your eighty-fourth birthday.


“Again, dear father, I’ll say to thee,

That when you face eternity,

I would thy mantle of Christian love

Of charity like that above,

Should descend on those you love the best,

That our lives with good deeds may be blest,

And that our children may also say

Our records were good on each birthday.”


The record of Mr. Corbly has been such that no history of Champaign

County would be complete without its incorporation. He has stood for

the sound and worthy things of life in every relationship. On every side

may be found witnesses to his unimpeachable integrity and financial

responsibility. Some years ago after a fire in Paxton a few scattered

leaves from the reports of the Dun and Bradstreet Mercantile Credit

Agency were picked up. These gave commercial ratings of different citizens with credit attached of so many thousands of dollars to each one,

and when the name of Mr. Corbly was mentioned the rating was fixed in

the following significant language: “Good for anything he asks for.”

That his word has always been as good as his bond is not only expressive

of his business integrity but to all those other qualities which are sum and

substance of human character.


Mr. and Mrs. Corbly now occupy a pleasant and comfortable home on West State Street in Paxton. There they enjoy the confidence and esteem of a host of friends, and in the setting sun of his life Mr. Corbly has his good wife by his side, also has the solace of his children and the memory of a just and worthy career. It is an unusual retrospect which he enjoys.

He has seen a great and magnificent country develop before his eyes and with a most creditable share in its making on his own part. He has prospered, and at the same time has solved the intricate problems of experience, has reared and educated his children and has given them his own example as a guide to true and loyal citizenship.