Handley / Hanley Genealogy


John T. Handley


[Editor's note: The following is my verbatim transcription of the biographical sketch which appeared in the Portrait and Biographical Album of Coles County, Ill. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). While the information is helpful, it clearly contains errors, as do most of the county histories published during that period.]

J. T. HANLEY, a native of the Prairie State, owns and occupies a comfortable homestead in Hutton Township on section 11, and since his residence here has identified himself thoroughly with the interests of the people of his township. He was born in Edgar County, Sept. 15, 1824, and is a descendant of excellent Irish ancestry, his grandfather, Samuel Hanley, having been a native of Ireland. The father of the latter died while he was young, and when about fifteen years old he ran away from home, determined to try his fortunes on this side of the water. He had read considerably of America, and without bidding his mother, brothers or sisters good-bye, embarked on a sailing-vessel, and with the high hopes of youth, made the tedious voyage from Liverpool to New York. Thence he proceeded to Pennsylvania, where he engaged to work on a farm, and was very successful in his efforts in the New World.

Samuel Hanley married early in life, his bride being Miss Mary Ripple, and they settled near Louisville, Ky., where young Hanley established a distillery and remained in business for fifteen years. He finally sold out, and coming to this State entered forty acres of land at $1.25 per acre in Edgar County, and not long afterward started a distillery there also, which he operated in connection with farming until, his death. He departed from the scenes of his earthly labors in the spring of 1852, when about seventy-eight years of age. His wife had died three years previously, being seventy-five years old. The fifteen children born of this marriage were named respectively, Joseph, Matthew, William, Lyda, Polly, Sytha, Michael, Anthony, Samuel, Ephraim, John, David, Betsey, Sallie and Savilla. Most of these are deceased.

Joseph Hanley, the father of our subject, was the eldest child of his parents, and was born near Louisville, Ky., June 9, 1803. He received a very limited education, and upon becoming old enough to labor declined to work in the distillery and was allowed to confine his industry to the farm. Upon reaching a marriageable age he chose for his bride Miss Sallie Hendsley, who became his wife when a maiden of fifteen years. Soon afterward he entered forty acres of land in Edgar County, where he lived twelve years, then selling out went into Pike County and entered eighty acres. This also he sold two years later, and after buying and selling 160 acres, took up his residence in Hutton Township, this county, in the spring of 1836. Here he entered first eighty acres and afterward doubled his landed area, and proceeded with the improvement and cultivation of his property until his death, which took place Jan. 11, 1880. He had been a worthy and esteemed citizen, and a member in good standing of the Baptist Church.

The young wife of Joseph Hanley only lived four years after their marriage, dying while a resident of Edgar County, Oct. 4, 1828, and being only nineteen years of age. She possessed many lovable qualities and was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. There were born of this marriage four sons--William, John T., Samuel, and a babe who died unnamed. Mr. Hanley, in 1832, was married to Miss Sallie Bowen, and of this union there were born eight children, viz.: Joshua, Jacob R., Michael, Stanley, Mary Ann, David, George and Louisa. The mother of these died at the home of her husband in Hutton Township in May, 1862, aged forty-six years. She was a lady of many excellent qualities and a member of the Baptist Church. The third marriage of Joseph Hanley was with Miss Nancy Anderson, and took place in Hutton Township, Oct. 22, 1864. The only child of this marriage was a daughter, Nancy, and the mother a few days after her birth was taken with measles, and died Oct. 22, 1865. The fourth wife of Joseph Hanley was formerly Miss Mary A. Bates, to whom he was married in April, 1866. Their four children were Joseph, Arvilla, Marcus C. and Dennis. This lady is still living.

The subject of our sketch remained under the parental roof during his boyhood and youth, receiving limited school advantages, and early in life became useful around his father's homestead and has spent but few idle days during his whole life. After reaching his majority he went up into Grant County, Wis., where he remained twelve years, during the summer seasons, and spent his winters with his father. He was married, Jan 28, 1850, to Miss Nancy E., daughter of John and Nellie Donelson, who was born May 26, 1831, in Pennsylvania. Her parents were natives of Scotland, and her father was eighty years of age at the time of his death. The mother lived to be nearly as old.

After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Hanley settled on a farm in Pleasant Grove Township, this county, where they lived one year, and Mr. H. then purchased 105 acres now included in his present farm. He has been remarkably prosperous, and is the owner of 640 acres, comprising the home farm, besides twenty-five acres in Edgar County and, forty on section 12, in Hutton Township. His residence is a fine brick structure erected in 1874. The farm is situated near the banks of the Embarras River, five and one-half miles east of Charleston. Mr. Hanley and his wife have no children. They are members in good standing of the Baptist Church, and politically our subject votes with the Democratic party. He has given much attention to diseases of horses, and for the last thirty years has practiced successfully as a veterinary surgeon..


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