Putnam County


Loton FRISBEY, residing on section 6, Henry township, Marshall county, is the oldest living settler in the northern part of the county, having been a continual resident of the vicinity in which he lives for a period of sixty-one years. In fact he has lived on the same section of land the entire period of time, and on his present farm for sixty years. At the time of his settlement here – just three years after the close of the Black Hawk war – the inhabitants wee few and far between, and he had but two or three neighbors within a reasonable distance from his cabin. Benijah MALLORY, an uncle of his wife, lived on the place now owned by Mrs. HARNEY, and Colonel Henry SNIDER moved in the next year.

Loton FRISBEY is a native of Vermont, that state which was the birthplace of Stephen A. Douglas, the “Little Giant,” who beat Lincoln in the race for the senate in 1858, but who was beaten by “Honest Old Abe: for the presidency two years later. Of his native state Douglas often humorously remarked that “it was a good state to be born in if you only emigrated soon enough.” Mr. FRISBEY was born in the village of Middletown, Rutland county, October 15, 1807. He grew to manhood, receiving but a limited education in the primitive subscription schools, and at the age of twenty-three married Miss Rhoda MALLORY. Five years later he fully made up his mind that Vermont was a good enough state to be born in, but that if he would prosper as he most earnestly desired, he must seek other fields where the opportunity for advancement was much greater. Illinois, the far-famed prairie state, was then favorably spoken of by emigrants from the east, who had penetrated its wilderness, and here he determined to come. The wisdom of his choice is not to be questioned, for no state ever gave greater evidence of what the future would be, and none has more fully redeemed the prophecies made of it by its friends.

On reaching Marshall county, Mr. FRISBEY determined here to “set his stakes,” and that time would be illy spent in looking farther. The change from the green mountains of Vermont to the wide prairies of Illinois, then so thinly settled and so far from the markets of the world, was great indeed. But the “Rubicon” was crossed, and with a stout heart and willing hands he went to work to make for himself and family a home in what was then the far west. In this undertaking he was ably assisted by his young wife, and toiling and suffering together they lived to see the wild prairie blossom as the rose, and neighbors gathered thickly around them, while evidences of civilization sprang up on every hand. But life was not all a burden. There came to gladden their home from time to time children, seven in number, of whom six are now living, as follows: Amanda, wife of Asa PUTNAM, of Madelia, Minnesota; Eliza, now Mrs. CULVER, of Minnesota; Hiram, of Wabasha, that state; Elvira, wife of Henry BORLAND, also of Madelia, Minnesota, and Henry, of the same place. It will be seen that all of the children have left the home nest and are now living in Minnesota.

After some thirty-eight years of a joyous wedded life, the mother was called to her heavenly reward, leaving behind a precious memory that is hallowed by those who remain. One year later Mr. FRISBEY married Mrs. Rachel MOTHERAL, of Bureau county, Illinois, a native of Ohio, and a daughter of Paul and Elizabeth (LAUGHREY) RILEY. When she was but eight years of age her parents removed to Bureau county, locating where the village of Sheffield now stands. There she grew to womanhood and married William MOTHERAL, and by that union were born six children, of whom five are yet living. The children were Elizabeth, widow of Charles STUDLEY, of Neponset, Illinois; Martha, widow of Samuel CONANT, of Van Meter, Iowa; Lavina, wife of Adam NORTON, of Westboro, Missouri; James V., of Webster City, Iowa; Emma, who married Henry FRISBEY, and died, leaving one child, who is now deceased, and Jennie, wife of George BIEDLEMAN, of Kewanee, Illinois. In 1857, Mr. MOTHERAL removed with his family to Anderson county, Kansas, took up a claim, and one year later died. Soon after his death his widow returned to Bureau county, Illinois, and was residing in the vicinity of her old home when she married Mr. FRISBEY.

Our subject and his wife, while yet residing on the old farm, are practically living retired, renting the farm and making their home with the family. Few men of his age are so well preserved, and few now living have witnessed so many and so great changes. When he settled in this locality, what is now Marshall and Putnam counties, were then Putnam county alone. Chicago, which now has one million, seven hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, was then an insignificant village with but a few hundred people. Railroads were then unknown here and the means of transportation were of a primitive order. In early life he was a whig of the old school, and since the organization of the republican party he has voted that ticket.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 272.

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