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Thomas and Rachel Beard Church

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Thomas Church was born 10/1/1813 in South Carolina, or possibly Virginia. On 1/29/1835 he married Rachel A. Beard in Wayne County, Indiana. Rachel was daughter of Patrick and Hannah Woodward Beard (see link to page on Woodward Web Site under links above). Rachel was born 1/4/1811 in Jefferson County, Tennessee.

Thomas Church came early to Mercer County and purchased the SWSE of Section 26 and the SESW Section 26 in Eliza Township (T15NR5W) on 5/30/1839. The purchase consisted of 80 acres at $1.25 per acre. Thomas and Rachel are found in Eliza Township in 1840: Thomas Church, 2 males 20-30, 1 male under 5; 1 female 20-30, 1 female under 5. We are not certain who the second male is as apparently no other Churches came to Mercer County.

Thomas and Rachel soon moved to New Boston Township (see 1875 plat map, Section 12). They are found in New Boston Township in 1850: #391 Thomas Church, 36, farmer, farm valued $800, born S. Car; Rachel, 40, born Tn; John L., 13, born In; Elizabeth, 12, born Il; Hannah, 9, Il; Patrick [Beard], 7, Il; Thomas, 4, Il; William, 1, Il; Agnes 2/12, Il. From the birthplaces of son John and daughter Elizabeth we can deduce that the Churches came to Mercer County between 1837 and 1838. A history of their son, Beard Church, in History of Mercer County, 1882 indicates Thomas came in 1835 and lived in Duncan Township, then moved to Eliza Township, and later to New Boston Township where he owned 400 acres of land. The 1835 date does not fit with John Beard's birth in Indiana in 1837 but it is possible Thomas Church came ahead of his family to scout out the land (this happened often) and then returned to Indiana for his family.

While Rachel was older than Thomas she outlived him by many years. Thomas Church died 5/8/1859 and is buried in the Mannon Cemetery in New Boston Township. Rachel lived with son Thomas in later years. She died 3/9/1881 and is also buried in Mannon Cemetery.

In 1860 Rachel is listed as head of household in New Boston Township: #1763 Rachel, 50, farmer, born Tn; John, 24, In; Hanna, 19, Il; Patrick, 18, Il; Thomas, 16, Il; William, 12, Il; Rachel [Agnes], 10, Il.

In 1870 Rachel is still head of household in New Boston Township: #15 Rachel Church, 60, keeping house, born Tn; William Church, farmer, 22, born Il; Rachel A., 20, born Il; Absalom Fullerton, 35, farm laborer, born Ohio.

In 1880 Rachel is living with son Thomas (see below). Rachel died 3/9/1881 and is buried in Mannon Cemetery.

Children of Thomas and Rachel Beard Church

John L. Church

John L. Church was born September 1836 in Wayne County, Indiana and died 5/16/1865 in Mercer County, Illinois. He is buried in Mannon Cemetery.

Elizabeth Church Griffith

Elizabeth Church was born 3/25/1838 in Mercer County. On 3/24/1859 she married Edward Griffith, son of Charles and Martha Scott Griffith, who also came early to Mercer County. They are found in Millersburg Township in 1860: Edward Griffith, 2, farmer, born Indiana; Elizabeth, 22, born Il. In 1870 they are living next door to Rachel Church in New Boston Township: #14 Edward Griffith, 36, farmer, born In; Elizabeth, 32, born Il; Mathew Milligan, 10, born New York. They apparently had no children of their own and Mathew may have been an orphan that they were raising as this was the time of the orphan trains from the east. Edward Griffith was assessor of Millersburg Township in 1873 and 1874 and he owned much land in Millersburg Township. There is a brief biography of Edward Griffith in History of Mercer County 1882, page 233 and it does not list any children for the couple. It mmentions that Edward was born November 13, 1834 in Hancock Co, In, and was the oldest child of Charles and Martha (Scott) Griffith. He came with his parents to Mercer County in 1839. We have not followed the Griffiths further since they lived in Millersburg Township.

Hannah Church Sherer/Shearer

Hannah Church was born about 1841 in Mercer County. She married Albert A. Shearer, son of Robert and Eliza Shearer, on 9/20/1860 in Mercer County. There is a biography of A. A. Sherer in History of Mercer County 1882. According to the History, his father, Robert, was a stock raiser in Mercer County and did much to improve the stock of horses in Mercer County. He carried off many blue ribbons in the county fairs. We did not see his name in the fairs we have posted on our Social Life Pages which include 1857 through 1859, but Robert died in 1861 and may have been in poor health at this time. Son Albert Sherer had a stock farm three miles south of Millersburg and dealt in fat cattle, Leicester sheep, and Poland China hogs.

Albert and Hannah are found in the 1870 census in the Millersburg census: #70 Albert Shearer, 32, farmer, born Pa; Hannah, 27, Il; Robert, 3, Il; Ella May, 8, Il; Julia, 1, Il; Cornelius Hosford, 21, farm laborer, born Ohio.

The History of Mercer County 1882, page 254 lists the following seven children: Ella M., Willie T. (deceased), Robert C., Jane E., Adda P. (deceased), Rachel C., and Frank E.

Patrick Beard Church

Beard Church was born 12/20/1842 in Mercer County. He married Mary M. McGinnis, daughter of John T. McGinnis on 10/20/1864 in Mercer County. There is a brief biography of Beard Church on page 473 of History of Mercer County 1882. It is from this history that the question comes up of Thomas Church possibly being from Virginia.

Beard and Mary are found in Millersburg Township in 1870: #140 Beard Church, 26, farmer, born Il; Mary, 24, born Il; W. Everett, 4, Il; Frank McG, 2, Il.

Beard Church was essentially a farmer but owned a store for one year in Aledo. An article in the Aledo Weekly Record 5/19/1873 "John H. Snyder and Beard Church purchased John T. Connell's stock of groceries in Aledo and set up as Snyder and Church." Beard soon returned to farming, owning land in Section 11, Ohio Grove Township.

According to the Mercer History, Beard and Mary had only the two children: Everett W., born Sept 20, 1865 and Frank M., born May 10, 1868. Frank McGinnis Church married Mary E. Decker on 1/21/1891 in Mercer County.

Mary McGinnis Church married Hugh R. Morrison 6/10/1891 in Mercer County. We have yet to look for a cemetery record for Beard Church.

Thomas Church, Jr.

Thomas Church, Jr. was born 10/18/1845 in Mercer County. He married Jane A. Childs, daughter of Augustine and Catherine Reynolds Childs, on 4/24/1870 in Mercer County. Thomas and Jennie were living two doors from Rachel Church in New Boston Township in 1870: #17 Thomas Church, 24, farmer, Il; Jennie, 18, Il.

In 1880 we find in New Boston: Thomas Church, 34, born Il, fa SC, mo Tn; Rachel A. Church, sister, 25, born Il; Rachel Church, mother, 69, Tn, parents born SC (incorrect); William T. Church, 10, Il; Friend L. Church, 2, Il. Jane Childs Church apparently died at the birth of Friend L. Church as she died 5/20/1878 and is buried in Mannon Cemetery.

On 10/19/1880 Thomas Church married Effie Fleming, daughter of Sylvester and America Dehaven Fleming of Mercer County. They married in Rock Island County. We have yet to examine the 1900 census to see if Thomas and Effie had children.

Thomas Church died 12/9/1894 and is buried in Mannon Cemetery. Effie Fleming Church died in 1932 and is buried in Mannon Cemetery. Son William Church married Bertha M. Boyd 11/7/1894 in Mercer County.

William Church

We have no further information on William Church who was age 12 in the 1860 census. There is a William Church in North Henderson Township in 1870 but he is 55 years old and from Germany. William may have "gone west" before 1870 as many young men did or he may have died, but he is not in the family plot in Mannon Cemetery.

Rachel Agnes Church

As mentioned under Thomas above Rachel was keeping house for her brother Thomas and his children and her mother in 1880. We do not find a marriage record for her in Mercer County. Since the only information we have that her middle name was Agnes comes from the 1850 census we should mention that there is a George Lakin married an Anna Church on 2/16/1883 in Mercer County and we wonder if this was possibly Rachel. We were unable to find either of them in the 1900 census to try to verify this.