Biography of John W. Church

John W. Church, supervisor of Hensley Township, has been a resident of Champaign County since 1884. Those years have marked his progressive labor toward independence as a farmer and today there is hardly a better known citizen in the northern half of Champaign County than Mr. Church.

He is a native of Vigo County, Indiana, where he was born July 5, 1860, third in a family of eight children, four sons and four daughters. Two of the family live in Illinois, his sister Ellen being the wife of Charles Roberts. Four others live in Indiana, and one in Minnesota and one in Michigan.

Erastus Church, the father, was born in Vermont in 1833, of English lineage. At the age of twenty-one he came west and settled in Vigo County, Indiana, and became one of the substantial agriculturists of that section. He started life with only a common school education, but succeeded well in all he undertook. He owned a farm of eighty-three acres in Vigo County and occupied it until his death. He was a Republican and he and his wife were active Methodists. Erastus Church married Julia Barnard, who was. born in New York State in 1832, daughter of a Baptist minister who preached in many localities of the South and at one time resided on the estate of Henry Clay.

John W. Church was reared and educated in Vigo County, and married there January 1, 1882, Miss Sarah Shanks. Two children have been born to their union, a son and daughter. The son is Clarence, who was educated in the common schools and graduated from Akers Business College at Terre Haute, Indiana. He is now doing well as an agriculturist in Edgar County, Illinois. He is a Republican, affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and Modern Woodmen of America, and with his wife is active in the Presbyterian Church. He married Miss Stella Harris and they have a daughter, Miriam. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Church is Mattie/who received a common school education and is a member of the Methodist Church. She is the wife of Arthur Epler, a farmer in Condit Township of Champaign County. Their two children are named Elmer and Helen.

Mrs. Church was born in Vigo County, Indiana, December 16, 1861, a daughter of George and Rachel (Hawkins) Shanks. She grew up in that locality, securing her advantages in the common schools, and has been a most capable helpmate and adviser to her husband.

In 1884, when Mr. and Mrs. Church came to Champaign County, they located on land as renters and raised the fruits of the soil on land belonging to others for several years. Mr. Church had a very limited capital when he came to this county, but hard work and economy on his part and the part of his wife have brought success in generous measure. At the present time the Church farm comprises eighty acres in Hensley Township, and its improvements rank it among the best places in this locality. They have remodeled the house and this farm together with another place of eighty acres in Edgar County stand as monuments to their industry, without a single dollar of indebtedness against them.

Mr. Church is a Republican, and has always been a great admirer of Theodore Roosevelt. His fellow citizens have long regarded his position in the community as valuable from an official standpoint. While living in Condit Township he served three years as supervisor, resigning that office, and has been continuously supervisor of Hensley Township for the past fourteen years. This is the most important township office under the Illinois system of local government, and Mr. Church has made his official influence count in many ways. He is also director of his local school district, and has proved a steadfast friend of popular education. He is affiliated with Champaign Lodge No. 333 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Champaign and is a charter member of Dewey Lodge of that order. Mrs. Church is active in the Royal Neighbors. Both have long been identified with the Mount Vernon Methodist Church in Hensley Township, of which Mr. Church is a trustee and teacher of the Young Men’s Class in the Sunday School.

The farm of Mr. and Mrs. Church is a fine tract of land in section 11. Its location makes its name, High View Farm, very appropriate. Besides general farming Mr. Church is much interested in good grades of live stock. His home is a place of good cheer and hospitality, and many friends have found a cordial welcome within its doors.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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