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Beatrice Wayne Gurney, Perth, wife of John B. Gurney

Originally posted for the Holiday Extravaganza 2003 Families

Transcribed by Joanne Murray.


John B. Gurney, a farmer and breeder and raiser of live stock, in which connection ha has attained more that local reputation, was born in Jackson Township, Will County, Illinois, January 18, 1866. His parents were Edward and Melissa (Buss) Burney. The father was born in Gloucestershire, England, April 7, 1834, and died in Wilmington, July 4, 1897, while his wife, who was born September 18, 1842, still survives him. He came to this country in 1843 with his parents, the voyage being made upon a sailing vessel, which was six weeks in crossing the Atlantic. The family landed at New York City and by canal and the Hudson River proceeded to Buffalo, thence by boat to Chicago and on by train to Channahon Township, Will County. Edward Gurney lost his parents, William and Ruth Gurney, soon after their arrival in the new world. They left a family of six children, three sons and three daughters. Being thus left an orphan; Edward Gurney made his home with Nial N. Osborn for a number of years and began farming for himself on section 17, Florence Township. Later he purchased land in Wilton and Jackson Townships. He improved his farm in Jackson Township and the year in which he married - 1859 - he built a frame house upon that place. With the breaking plow he turned the sod and transformed the wild land into richly cultivated fields. Wild game in those days was plenty, including deer, turkeys, geese, and ducks. There were also many wolves in the district and all of the evidences of frontier life could here be seen. Mr. Gurney continued farming for a considerable period and for five or six years was engaged in the grain trade at Elwood, Illinois. Subsequently he purchased a farm in Florence Township, but afterward sold the property and then purchased one hundred acres for forty dollars per acre. Later he purchased one hundred acres more at sixty dollars per acre. In 1892 he built a house in Wilmington, where his last days were passed. He was a worthy and honored pioneer settler who aided in laying broad and deep the foundation for the present development and up building of the county. He served as school director for many years, was justice of the peace and highway commissioner. His political allegiance was given to the Whig party in early life and he afterward became a stanch republican. He was a man of many excellent traits of character, esteemed for his genuine personal worth. The family numbered five children, three sons and two daughters: Edgar G., who died in 1900, at the age of thirty-nine years; Frances L., the wife of Frank Althouse, a resident of Oregon, Illinois; John B., of this review; Frank W., who is living on the old homestead in Jackson Township; and Ruth A., the wife of J. W. Herriott of Chicago. Mrs. Herriott is secretary of the King’s Daughters in Chicago and a delegate to the convention at Wheeling, West Virginia.

John B. Gurney, whose name introduces this record, pursued his early education in the district schools and afterward had the advantage of a course in the Bloomington (Illinois) Business College. He was reared to farm life, early becoming familiar with all the duties and labors incident to the development of the fields and the production of crops. When twenty-three years of age he started out upon an independent business career and has always followed farming and stock raising, at first operating eighty acres of land, which he cultivated for two years. Later he and his brother Frank farmed two hundred acres for two years. In 1892 he was married and afterward farmed two hundred acres on his own account until 1904, when he purchased an additional tract of one hundred and sixty acres, so that he is today the owner of a valuable farming property of three hundred and sixty acres. He built an addition to the old homestead in 1897 and built a fine barn in 1905. He is a breeder of full-blooded Shropshire sheep, also buys and feeds sheep, having a thousand head upon his farm at the present time. He is likewise a breeder of Percheron horses and is the joint owner of the full-blooded French Percheron stallion Jasmin; register number 48414 in the French book, and in the American register number 31367. He likewise breeds full-blooded Poland China hogs and also White Holland turkeys. His stock-raising interests are extensive and he is one of the well-known and successful representatives of his line of business in Will County.

On the 17th of August 1892, Mr. Gurney was married to Miss Beatrice Wayne, at old Perth, New York. She was born near that place May 28, 1868, and is a daughter of John and Angeline (Brower) Wayne. The father was born in England, January 13, 1828, and died February 17, 1896, at old Perth, Fulton County, New York. His wife, who was born September 12, 1830, died at Amsterdam, Montgomery County, New York, August 26, 1905. In their family were twelve children, four sons and eight daughters, of whom eight are now living: Elizabeth, the wife of Lewis Shipman; Anna E., the wife of G.W. Filmore; Frances, who married Eugene Simpkins; George B.; Catherine, the wife of Burnside McCord; Ida, the wife of J.W. McIntyre; Mrs. Gurney; and Grace D., the wife of Charles Fox. The father, John Wayne, was a glove manufacturer at Gloversville, New York, for a number of years, but spent his last years as a farmer. He was a lover of fine horses and owned some splendid specimens of the noble steed. He served as school director for many years and the cause of education found him a stalwart friend. His political allegiance was given to the Republican Party and his religious faith was indicated by his membership in the Baptist Church.

Unto Mr. And Mrs. Gurney have been born five children: Marjorie M., Edward B., George W., Archibald J., and Olive G. Mr. And Mrs. Gurney are prominent and faithful members of the Presbyterian Church at Wilmington, with which he has been identified since 1891, while for the past twelve years he has served as elder and as one of its trustees. He is also superintendent of the Sunday school at the present time and does all in his power to promote the growth of the church and extend its influence. Mr. Gurney is strictly temperate, never having tasted liquor in his life. He is a member of River camp, No. 124, M. W. A., at Wilmington. He has served as school treasurer for a number of years and was elected school director in the spring of 1906. He is deeply interested in all that pertains to public progress and his aid and co-operation can always be counted upon to assist in measures for the public good. His life has been actuated by high and honorable principles and his business career has been characterized by laudable ambition and watchfulness of all details and indications pointing to success. In all of his dealings he has been strictly reliable, so that he is an honored name in business circles.

Source: Stevens, W. W. Past And Present of Will County, Illinois, ©1907, Pp. 700-701, Chicago, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company.

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