The neighboring state of Indiana has furnished to Marshall county this worthy citizen, for William BICKEL was born in Tippecanoe county of the Hoosier state in 1847. His parents were Samuel and Elizabeth (SMITH) BICKEL, whose family numbered ten children. The father was born in Allegheny county, Pennsylvania, April 10, 1811, and died in the year 1880. His son William remembers often hearing his father speak of making trips across the mountains on foot, for that was prior to the era of railroad travel, when all this section of the country was a wild frontier region. He came to Marshall county on the 1st of October, 1856, locating first about five miles east of Lacon, where he lived for twelve years. He then removed to McLean county, Illinois, where he resided continuously from 1868 until his demise. While his political views were in harmony with the principles of democracy he did not consider himself bound by party ties and frequently cast an independent ballot. Both he and his wife were consistent and faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mrs. BICKEL was born in Ohio in 1817 and died in Belle Plain township, Marshall county, on the 8th of May, 1887. Their children were Rebecca Ann, Barbara Ann, Susie Ann, Elizabeth, Henry, Samuel, William, Mary, David and George. Of these Rebecca Ann and Elizabeth are now deceased.
William BICKEL spent the first ten years of his life in the state of his nativity and began his education there, but largely received his schooling in Illinois. He attended the Strawn school for three years and subsequently was a student in the Belle Plain school. When not busy with his text-books he aided in the work of the fields and remained upon the home farm until the time of his marriage. On the 30th of December, 1873, he wedded Miss Diora J. JONES, who was born in Beaver county, Pennsylvania, near Freedom, February 1, 1852, her parents being Milo and Eleanor JONES. Her father, who was a farmer by occupation and followed that pursuit in Marshall county for some years, died in 1904. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Eleanor HAMILTON, was born in 1831 and died April 19, 1902. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. and Mrs. BICKEL have but one child, Earl, who married Agnes EICKELBARNER and lives just across the road from his father's home. They farm together, sharing equally with each other in all things.
At the time of their marriage Mr. and Mrs. William BICKEL located in Belle Plain township and their entire married life has been spent within four miles of their present home. In addition to general farming he handles large numbers of cattle and hogs each year and his place is an ideal stock farm, located in the edge of the timber. Mr. BICKEL took up his abode upon this place in 1887 and the years have since been devoted to its further improvement and development until now it is a splendid property. He started out in life with no capital save a practical knowledge of farming, and he determined to win and he now owns one hundred and eighty-seven acres of excellent land. He first purchased fifty acres in Belle Plain township of John Cox, whom he claims gave him his first start, for which he paid forty dollars per acre. After selling this he bought his present farm. As the years have gone by his labors have brought him a goodly measure of prosperity. In politics Mr. BICKEL is a democrat and takes an active interest in the growth and success of his party. He has been elected and served as assessor of Belle Plain township for six consecutive years and for a long period has been school trustee. The greater part of his life has been passed in this county and in a review of his history there will be found much that is commendable, his strong characteristics being in harmony with the requirements of good citizenship and of honorable manhood.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.