The Conner Family of Prairie du Rocher Illinois

There are few citizens of American blood, native born in Randolph County, who date their birth back as far as does Mr. W. S. Conner, a resident of the southern part of Township five — eight. He was born within a quarter of a mile of his present residence, in the year of 1815.

He was the son of Henry Conner, who was born in Maryland and moved to Kentucky when ten years old, about the year 1795. The Conner family is of Irish extraction. The name was formerly spelled “O’Connor,” in which form it will be easily recognized as belonging to a numerous family in Ireland. Henry Conner was about twenty-two when he came to Illinois from Kentucky in the year 1807. He located at Kaskaskia then the central point and commercial emporium of the Illinois settlements, and for three years worked for Colonel Pierre Menard. While here he married Miss Elizabeth Barnet, a native of Madison County, Kentucky. Henry Conner then moved to Monroe County, and settled on a farm in the American Bottom, at a point four miles south of what is now known as Chalfin Bridge. He continued farming here till about the year 1812, when a fire swept away his buildings, whereupon he returned to Randolph County, and settled on the farm now owned and occupied by William Phegley. Here on the twenty-first of October, 1815, William S. Conner was born the third of a family of seven children. Five of these, three sons and two daughters reached maturity. All are now deceased with the exception of Mr. Conner, who is therefor the sole representative of the family generation.

Henry Conner was a man of prominence and influence in Randolph County, in his day. In 1814 he was elected Sheriff of the County, when the jurisdiction of that office extended from the boundaries of St. Clair County to the mouth of the Ohio. He filled the office of Sheriff for seven successive years. He was United States Marshall for the district in which Randolph County was included, under the administration of John Quincy Adams. He filled several other offices, and during .his life-time took a leading part in public affairs. He was an active Whig in politics, and was popular with the members of that party. He died in March, 1832, at Kaskaskia, and his remains now repose in the old cemetery at that place.

William S. Conner lived in the County till the death of his father. He then went to St. Louis to embark in business for himself, but after a stay there of only a few months he struck out for the Illinois river country, whose settlement had then but recently been be-gun. The localities which he traveled (in 1833) were new and uncultivated, among which were Peoria and Tazewell counties, new among the richest and most populous districts of Illinois. This section was his home for four years. The lead mines of the Galena region next offered themselves as a field of enterprise. Here Mr. Conner spent twenty-one years in mining lead, principally in south-west Wisconsin and Iowa. He acquired an intimate and practical knowledge of the processes of mining but met with varied vicissitudes of fortune. It was during his residence in Wisconsin that he married Nancy Stonier, a native of the State of Pennsylvania.

In 1858 he returned to Randolph County, and settled within a quarter of a mile from the place of his birth, on land inherited from his father. Mr. and Mrs. Conner have had six children, of whom three are living, Harriet Louisa, Alice and Lucy. The oldest daughter, Harriet Louisa, was married to Charles Phegley, and now lives in Pettis County, Missouri.

Theodore P. Memoirs of a French Village: A Chronicle of Old Prairie du Rocher, 1722-1972.

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