Settlers left their mark here

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The westward movement was still going strong in the late 1800s and many new families were still coming to Edgar County and Paris. 

Granville Collier was born in 1862 at Campbellsburg, Ind.,  which is near Salem and Pekin, Ind. The terrain is a little different from Edgar County with its rolling hills, little streams and rocky farm ground, although there were fields in the area good for crop farming. 

The darker soils of Edgar County were just becoming productive with drainage and better land practices, yet there were good places to build or find a home on the higher elevations. 

Collier was not as famous as John Hay from Salem, but he left quite a mark on Edgar County because of his offspring. Hay’s fame came from his role as a statesman, diplomat, author and he was Abraham Lincoln’s assistant and secretary. A few years later, he served as the U.S. Secretary of State during the time William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt were presidents. 

Collier relocated to Pekin, the second largest town in the county, but somewhere near the turn of the 20th century he decided to move to Illinois. Some family member may have enticed him to visit Edgar County and through a discussion and observing the way the land laid near Paris, he decided to make his new home there. 

At that time he and his wife, Wena Schiagel, who were married in 1887 in Salem, already had their nine children. They had traveled west before because their first daughter was born in Winfield, Kan., where the family lived for two years. 

Sometime in 1909, the Colliers loaded themselves and their belongings on a train at Pekin and headed for Paris. The horses, cows, pigs and some farm equipment were packed into the waiting train cars and they were off on a great adventure. At the time of their arrival in Paris, the population of Edgar County was at an apex of more than 28,000. Now it is only 18,000. Maybe the Collier family just followed the crowd.

They settled on a tenant farm on the Moss Road near the Indian Boundary Line. They were neighbors to the Kimbles and not far from the road to Baldwinsville in Hunter Township. This area became important to the Collier family when their children were old enough to marry and raise families. Mabel, the oldest daughter married Gilbert Phillips in 1908, and that family stayed in the area of Pekin, Ind. 

The second daughter, Grace Ellen Collier married George Alvis Moody. They lived in Coles County and had three children. Leon Moody, who later moved to Edgar County but never married; Charles Edward Moody married Rosemary Lu Bandy in 1945 and they became established on a farm in Hunter Township where they had four kids. Then there is Elsie Louise Moody who married Donald McClellean Keys in 1943 and raised seven youngsters on the livestock and crop farm also in Hunter Township. 

Granville Collier’s third child, Gilbert Collier, who was born in a log cabin in Washington County, Ind., found a spouse from Kansas, Ill., and he lived in that area. They got married while he was on furlough during World War I, and they raised one adopted daughter. 

Addie Collier, the fourth sibling, married William Kretchmer and raised two sons. She died at an early age of 48 from diphtheria near Louisville, Ky.   

Fifth child Melissa May Collier met and married William Stanley Propst from Edgar in 1925. They eventually lived in a home just across the road from the home place of the senior Colliers on Moss Road. They had two children. The daughter Betty married John Edwin Mattingly, and they lived in Paris. The son Robert Stanley Propst was born in 1938 at Paris and married made their homes away from the Paris area. Since my uncle had no sons and my aunt had a different name after marriage, only my dad carried on the Stanley name. As a result, The Stanley clan needed my brother John Henry and me to continue the name.

I am the only decedent from George P. Stanley in this area. I do have a nephew in Indianapolis and a niece in Peoria. My kids are also scattered with Junior, in San Antonio, Texas, Ginger in Spencer, Ind., and Gina in Robinson so we don’t see them every day, but we do keep in contact with Facebook. 

Even though there are no direct descendants from the Colliers by the name of Collier in this area there is a very large proliferation of families and their offspring in and all around Paris. Oh yes we have family, but they are strung around all over the country, and I am not likely to see anyone of my family on a given day except for Ginger, our daughter who visits once a week. Compared to the offspring of the Collier family, I run into them all the time. Doc and Donna Moody are my neighbors, their son and I wave as we herd farm machinery. I have taught Max Moody and Carrah Colvin in school and see them in classes. 

Even though I don’t see them every day, Bob Colvin, Richard McCoulloch and Donna Moody used to serve on the Unit 4 school board when I did. I remember Chuck and Rosemary Moody waiting in the elevator line; Horace and Elsie McCoulloch at Pine Grove Community Club events and Dick and Nema at their feed store. Ronnie McCoulloch was a good friend from the Pine Grove Ag. Club along with Joe Sheehy. 

I remember Evelyn and Georgia Keys hauling hay past our farm south of town. I even see a couple of Keys girls as teachers at Paris High School. I have dealt with Chuck, Don and Joe with their fertilizer business and Bill married my wife’s second cousin. Does that mean maybe I am related to that clan? I just can’t get away from them. 

The Francis family was involved in 4-H softball when I was. This is only a sample of the people that I have met from the original Collier family. It just goes to show you that no matter how many people are the direct descendants from a grandfather and grandmother in one area, they still are important. 

In my case, I just have to travel a little further to visit with them in person. I ain’t complaining ’cause that gives Rosie and me an excuse to travel and see our wonderful relatives and beautiful country. It appears that I have had the pleasure of meeting about 35 or 40 of the Collier family in the Paris area. Does that mean that folks should feel sorry for me, because I am the only Stanley left around here? I certainly can’t make up for 40 people and I don’t intend to, but I thank them for letting me aggravate them with my presence.