Biography of William L. Sturdyvin

William L. Sturdyvin. A resident for more than forty-five years in Champaign County has made William L. Sturdyvin one of his community’s best known citizens, and the honorable and industrious life he has led has given him a substantial place among his people. The years have dealt kindly with him and with his efforts, and he and his good wife now reside in a comfortable and hospitable home in Rantoul. Theirs is one of the fine residences facing the park in Rantoul, and stands on a street corner about two blocks from the interurban station.

Mr. Sturdyvin is a native of Illinois and was born in Tazewell County, twenty-two miles south of Peoria. He is a son of Obadiah and Cynthia (Musick) Sturdyvin. His parents were born in Ohio and in pioneer times migrated to Illinois, locating south of what was then an Indian trading post consisting of a single log cabin on the site of the present vigorous City of Peoria. In the Sturdyvin family there were the following children besides William L.: Grant, Abraham and James, deceased; Steven, Allen and Robert; and two deceased daughters. The children were able to attend school in their pioneer district of Illinois only about three months a year. The Sturdyvins lived forty-five miles from Springfield, and in the early days there were only two houses on the entire road. Besides farming the father kept a tavern and one of its guests at different times was Abraham Lincoln, then an obscure Illinois lawyer. William Sturdyvin has boyhood recollections of the great emancipator. One time he heard him plead a case in law court, and has a distinct recollection of the shrewd and effective arguments used by the Illinois statesman.

Mr. Sturdyvin married Catherine Wallace. She was born in the land of the shamrock, Ireland, a daughter of Edward and Anna Wallace. When she was two years of age her parents immigrated to America. There were no steamships crossing the Atlantic at that time and the family spent two months on the water. Mr. and Mrs. Sturdyvin began their married life in Tazewell County on a rented farm. They had hope, courage and enthusiasm, and hardships and difficulties were not sufficient to daunt their buoyant energy. From Tazewell County they removed to Bureau County, Illinois, but after a short time returned to their former home and in 1871, the year of the great Chicago fire, came to Champaign County. Here Mr. Sturdyvin bought 160 acres of land, for which he paid $15 an acre. It was raw prairie and in time was converted into a fertile and productive farm under his individual labors. He afterwards bought other land, at a much higher price, and still owns a farm estate of 200 acres.

In the meantime children came into their home. Their family, named in order of birth, is: Anna, James, George, Mamie, Edward, Joseph and Carrie. Two children died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Sturdyvin had a keen appreciation of their responsibilities to their children and in order to fit them for life’s’ responsibilities sent them to the district schools and later to the high school at Rantoul. Joseph and Carrie both graduated from the Rantoul High School and taught school several years. Anna finished her education in Champaign, and also became a successful teacher. She married Edward O’Donnell, now deceased and her children are Frank and Joseph. James Sturdyvin married Catherine Delaney of Bellflower, and has children named Evylin, Earl and Agnes. George, a real estate man at Champaign, married Kate Harney. Mamie is the wife of James E. Leonard. Edward, a piano dealer at Champaign, married Nellie Gunning, and their children are Leonard, Marie and Loretta. Joseph is in the undertaking business at Champaign and married Agnes Fitzgerald. Carrie is the wife of Thomas Callahan and lives in Rensselaer, Indiana.

Throughout his long and industrious career Mr. Sturdyvin devoted his best energies to farming. About Seventeen years ago he retired from his country place and bought his present home in Rantoul. He and his wife are active members and regular attendants of worship at St. Malachi’s Catholic Church, and their children were baptized in the same faith. To their children they have given the best of educational advantages and home training and have endeavored to make them true and loyal American citizens. Mr. Sturdyvin has always appreciated the glory and dignity of America and has told his children many times that every one coming to this country ought to appreciate the nation and the flag which waves over it.

Mr. Sturdyvin has served as school director and also as road commissioner, and in addition to his work as a farmer he has taken contracts for grading and building thirty-six miles of improved highway in the county. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Sturdyvin is characterized by hospitality and an atmosphere of cheer and comfort. They have lived long and worthily and have witnessed the transformation of Champaign County from a vast prairie district into one of the garden spots of the world.



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

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