Putnam County


who for forty years has efiiciently served as county clerk of Putnam county, was born near Smithfield, Jefferson county, Ohio, March 6, 1823, and is a son of James and Margaret (Tipton) Purviance, the former a native of Redstone, Pennsylvania, and the latter of Baltimore, Maryland. In the keystone state they were married, later removed to Ohio, and in 1846 became residents of Putnam county, Illinois, locating on a farm near Hennepin, where the father died in 1877, at the age of seventy-six years. A brother of our subject. Price Purviance, now resides upon the old homestead in Granville township.

Amos spent his boyhood mainly upon the home farm, but at the age of sixteen years entered the office of the Steubenville Herald, then conducted by Judge Wilson, at Steubenville, Ohio, and during his three years' apprenticeship only received his board and clothes. Soon after learning the printer's trade, in connection with a cousin, who was an attorney, he purchased the paper, which they published for about a year, and on seUing out he came west.

Previously Mr. Purviance was married August 7, 1845, in Jefferson county, Ohio, to Miss Mary M. Ong, a native of that county, and to them were born two children. Margaretta, at home, was for one year engaged in teaching at Lacon, and has also done special work in the county clerk's office. Frank, who clerked for some time in Chicago, has for the past three years served as deputy county clerk in Putnam county.

Coming to this county in 1847, Mr. Purviance located on a farm of eighty acres, given him by his father and near the latter's farm in Granville township, and for seven years devoted himself to farming, but with not very flattering success. In 1854 he came to Hennepin, where for one year he clerked for a Mr. Pulsifer, who owned a warehouse on the west bank of the river, of which our subject took charge. He was then elected sheriff of Putnam county, in which office he served for two years, and the following year was a member of the firm of Grable, Coles & Purviance.

It was in 1857 that he was first elected county clerk, and he has been repeatedly re-elected until he has now filled the office for thirty-nine consecutive years, which will be extended to forty-one before his present term expires. His continuous service well indicates his faithful discharge of duty, always being found at the office, and was without a deputy until within the last three years, when his son, Frank, has served in that capacity. He has been the regular candidate of the republican party, twice having no opponent, but several times there has been a close contest, he at one time receiving a majority of only sixteen votes. He has never taken an active part in politics, devoting his entire time and attention to his official duties, but is well informed on the leading issues and questions of the day. He was reared in the Society of Friends, but has never identified himself with any religious organization. Socially, he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

In 1895 Mr. Purviance and his estimable wife celebrated their golden wedding, one hundred and fifty guests being present, and were entertained at their home in the woods. His friends presented him with a handsome gold-headed cane, in token of their respect and esteem.

In 1869 Mr. Purviance purchased a wooded tract of about thirty acres, including an isle of several acres in the river — the site of the old Hartzell trading post, which was established in 1817, and is now marked with a suitable stone. There are about a dozen depressions, where it is said the Indians would cache their corn where Mr. Hartzell could watch it. These holes are nearly all filled with leaves, still they are yet plainly visible.

Mr. Purviance has expended considerable time on the improvement of his place, but endeavors to leave it as near a state of nature as possible, allowing no trees to be cut, and has added many varieties of trees and plants. He has brought here hundreds of rocks which show peculiar formations, especially from various parts of Putnam county, has erected several choice rustic seats, platforms, etc., from which one gets a grand view of the river. In fact it is one of the most beautiful and attractive spots to be found for miles around. He has many interesting relics of the Indians, the stone age and of pioneer life, and his room at the court house also contains an interesting collection, many of the relics having a value from some local connection. Courteous, genial, well-informed, alert and enterprising, Mr. Purviance stands to-day one of the leading representative men of the county, holding a high place in the hearts of the people whom he has served so capably for forty years.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 419.

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