Biography - Uriah Converse

URIAH CONVERSE, who is now living a retired life in Greenfield but who for more than fifty years was one of the active and successful farmers of Greene County, has been a resident of this portion of the state since 1844. A detailed account of his life would present a faithful picture of conditions here in pioneer times and through the era of later development and progress. He is a native of Vermont, his birth having occurred in Addison County on the 24th of December, 1824. His father, Alfred Converse, was a native of New Hampshire, and a son of Bernard Converse, who was also a native of New England and was of English lineage. Alfred Converse was reared to manhood in New Hampshire and when a young man went to the Green Mountain state, where he was married to Betsey Corey, a native of Vermont. He was a carpenter by trade and in early life followed that pursuit. He served his country as a soldier in the war of 1812 and a number of years later he received a land warrant from the government in recognition of the aid which he had rendered to his country in the second war with England. He removed westward to Illinois in 1844, settling in Rubicon township, Greene county, where he spent his remaining days, devoting his attention to agricultural pursuits here until about 1860. His wife survived him for but a few years.
Uriah Converse spent the first twenty years of his life in Vermont and enjoyed the advantages afforded by the common schools of that state. He is, however, largely self-educated, experience, observation and reading adding largely to his knowledge since he has attained man's estate. In early life it became necessary for him to earn his own living and whatever he has achieved has come as the direct reward of his earnest labor. He worked as a farm hand by the month for a number of years and then entered a tract of land of forty acres, which joined his father's farm and on which not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made, and this he at once broke and improved. He then returned home and cared for his parents in their declining years and succeeded in the ownership of the old homestead farm. He afterward purchased land from time to time until he owned over five hundred acres in two well improved farms. He continued to actively engage in the cultivation of this property until 1893, when he rented his home farm and removed to Greenfield, where is now living retired, enjoying the rest that he has so well earned and truly deserves.
Mr. Converse was married in Greene county, December 24, 1848 to Miss Elmira Corey, also a native of Vermont but her death occurred in 1851 after a short but happy married life of but three years. There were two children by this marriage, of whom one is now living. Flora Alice, the wife of Horace Landon, a substantial farmer of Sangamon County.
Mr. Converse was again married in 1856, the lady of his choice being Miss Minerva Standefer, who was born in Tennessee and in her early girlhood accompanied her parents on their removal to Missouri. Her father was Alfred Standefer, who died in Texas. There are five children by this union: Otis E., a substantial farmer of Greene county; Fannie Dora, the wife of Henry Cooper, also a farmer of Greene county; Harry, a practicing physician of Greenfield; Jennie, the wife of Charles Woodward, a leading hardware merchant of Carlinville, Illinois; and Truman Uriah, who is married and operates the old home farm.
Politically Mr. Converse is a stanch Republican and a believer in protection to American industries, in a sound currency and in other of the leading principles of the party. He has never sought or desired public office, preferring to give his attention to his farming and business interests. He did, however, serve as highway commissioner and was a member of the school board for several years, being a stanch champion of the cause of public education. He and his wife held membership in the Methodist Episcopal church and the sterling traits of honesty; industry, kindliness and charity have many times been manifest in them in their relations with their fellow men. Mr. Converse started out in life on his own account a poor boy and, dependent upon his own resources from youth to the present time, he has won creditable success. Through his labor, his enterprise and frugality he has accumulated two large and valuable farms and is also the owner of a good home in Greenfield. Mrs. Converse, who has ever been a faithful companion and helpmate to her husband, has been an invalid for about twenty years and for the past ten years has lost the entire use of her limbs but she is a patient sufferer and receives the kind and unremitting care of her husband. Both are held in the highest esteem in Greene county. For sixty years Mr. Converse has witnessed the growth and development of this part of the state, aiding in its material improvement. He is well known among the old settlers and his life exemplifies many commendable traits of character such as have ever commanded respect and confidence in every land and clime.

Extracted by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Greene County, Illinois, by Ed Miner, published in 1905, pages 361-363.

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