Marshall County

ILIFF, Robert W.

Robert W. ILIFF, whose fine farm lies on section 14, Richland township, Marshall county, is a native of the county, the family of which he is a member being numbered among the earliest settlers of this locality. The ILIFFs are of English descent, and the first of the family in America was James ILIFF, who was a son of Richard ILIFF. He was a member of the William Penn colony in Pennsylvania. The great-grandfather of our subject was John ILIFF, a native of the keystone state. His son, Robert ILIFF, married Jane WILLIAMS, and their son, John M. ILIFF, who was born in 1827, in Perry county, Ohio, is the father of our subject. This family contributed fifty-two of its number to the union army from 1861 to 1865.

The first of the family to effect a settlement in Marshall county was Robert ILIFF, the grandfather of our subject. He was a native of Pennsylvania, born in 1801, and came with his family to Illinois in 1831, first locating near Washburn, and in the spring of 1832 moving to the farm which is now the home of Robert W. ILIFF. The land was divided between timber and prairie and in its native state. At that time there were not over half a dozen families in the township and few improvements had been made. He at once commenced the development of the place and in due time had a most productive farm. On this farm his wife died in 1862, and nine years later he retired from active life and made his home with his son, John M. ILIFF, until called away by death.

Robert and Jane ILIFF were the parents of five children, only one of whom, however, grew to maturity. They were both members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and took an active interest in the work of the church, both dying as they had lived, earnest, devoted Christians. He was a man of quiet disposition, taking little part in public affairs, and caring little for the honors of this world. During almost his entire life he was noted as being a very early riser, literally following the maxim of Benjamin Franklin, “Early to bed and early to rise.” He was a soldier in the Black Hawk war.

John M. ILIFF, the father of our subject, was but four years of age when he came with the family to Illinois. Here he grew to manhood and received a good common school education. The life of a farmer he adopted as his calling, and as soon as able commenced assisting in the cultivation of the home farm.

He was united in marriage with Caroline E. HENTHORN, a native of Ohio, born June 30, 1828, and a daughter of Samuel and Penelope (BROWN) HENTHORN. Her parents were among the pioneers of the county, first locating in Lacon township, but soon after removing to Richland township, taking up the southwest quarter of section 1, which was their home until late in life, when they moved to Lacon and there died. They were the parents of nine children, four of whom are now living: Reason A., who resides in Nebraska; James P., Eliza A., and Frances STREET, living in Lacon.

After their marriage, John M. ILIFF and wife located on the northeast quarter of section 1, Richland township, where he improved a fine farm. To them were born seven children, six of whom grew to maturity: Robert W., our subject; Samuel H., who lives in Mankato, Kansas; Clarissa J., living in Bloomington, Illinois; William T., of Peoria; Ella C., now the wife of Horace RAMP, of Richland township, and Mary, widow of Professor J. R. GRAY, now residing in Bloomington, and a fine musician, having charge of the musical department of the Wesleyan university. The mother of these children died in 1864. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, a woman of lovely disposition, one who followed closely in the footsteps of the blessed Master.


Horace Greeley RAMP
husband of Lu"Ella"

Samuel RAMP
father of Horace

[Photos submitted 08 Sep 2012 by Roberta Hofmann]

John M. ILIFF was thrice married, this third wife being Miss Amelia SPRINGER, who now resides in Galesburg, Illinois. After living a life of great usefulness for fifty-four years, he was called to rest, his death occurring in 1881. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and an active worker in the same, serving the church in an official capacity for many years.

Robert W. ILIFF, our subject, was born upon the old home farm on section 1, Richland township, March 22, 1851. After receiving his primary education in the public schools of his township, he entered Wesleyan university, taking a two years’ course, but not graduating. He grew to manhood on the farm and remained at home, assisting in the work until his marriage in April 30, 1873, with Miss Alice A. BEQUEAITH, a native of Tazewell county, Illinois, and a daughter of John and Elizabeth BEQUEAITH, the former, now deceased, and the latter living in Pekin, Illinois. By this union seven children have been born: John E., who married Mary A. WILLIAMS, and now resides in Belle Plain township, and Flora C., Frank B., Herbert A., George W., Anna B., and Harry L., all at home.

Soon after their marriage the young couple removed to the farm, which is yet their home, and which has been in the family for over sixty years. It comprises eighty acres of finely improved land, everything about it evincing the thrift of its owner. In all his work he is thorough and systematic, believing in the doctrine “what is worth doing is worth doing well.” For several years he has made a specialty of raising thoroughbred Poland China hogs and has been fairly successful, though losing heavily in 1895 from hog cholera.

In 1877, Mr. ILIFF was sun-struck, the effects of which have continued with him to this day, at times causing him great suffering, but he bears his affliction patiently. Like his father, he is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which body his wife and eldest daughter are also members. For years he has served the church as trustee and steward, and has also been superintendent of the Sunday school. He believes thoroughly in the Christian religion and in the work the Lord has left to his disciples in the conversion of the world. Politically, he is a republican, by birth and inclination. Born at a time when the slavery question was the all-important topic of discussion, and when the slave power, grown arrogant by success, was determined to still farther encroach upon the free territory of the country, almost his first recollection was of hearing the discussion of the rights of the black man and the influence of slavery upon the country. As soon as old enough to express his views, he took sides with the republican party, with which organization he has continued to act. In the discharge of his duties as a citizen he has served in several local offices, and has discharged the duty of township assessor for many years.

Mr. and Mrs. ILIFF reside in a very pleasant home and no family in Marshall county is more highly esteemed. Mrs. ILIFF is a woman of excellent judgment and good business ability, and has ever been truly a helpmeet to her husband, who at all times consults with and seeks her advice on business matters.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

Visit Our Neighbors
Bureau Putnam
Stark La Salle
Peoria Woodford
Search the Archives