Richland County


Among the residents of Richland county. Illinois, who are especially worthy of notice as having been active in the improvement and prosperity of the county, and have built up reputations which shall endure for decades to come, none have figured more prominently in their respective communities or exerted a more beneficial influence on those about him than Mr. Coan, whose life since coming to this county has been closely interwoven with the progress of the same. His leading aim has been to provide well for his own and do good to others, and those who have reason to know are authority for the statement that no one has dispensed his means with more liberal hand to the deserving poor than has the large-hearted, generous subject of this brief review, whose long and unusually active life has been so full of incident and worthy deeds that it would be impossible here to set forth all of them in detail. He early realized the necessity for good citizenship, and with strong mind and determined purpose addressed himself to bringing about this deserved result. His life has been a power for good and his influence has always been exerted in behalf of whatever tended to promote morality in his neighborhood. When a mere boy he determined to become a good man and a useful citizen, and that he has successfully carried out his original intentions is attested by a long life fraught with so many beneficial results to humanity. He has always been optimistic enough to look on the bright side of life, partly due to the encouragement and sympathy of his worthy life companion, and, unlike the majority of old men, he still retains much of his youthful spirit and is popular with all who know him.

He has indeed, borne well his part, and now as life wanes and he proceeds toward the twilight and the journey's end, he carries with him the respect and love of numerous friends whose prayers are that his years may yet be many in the land of the living.

William Elice Coan, the scion of a sturdy Southern family, was born in the state of South Carolina, November 16, 1826. He is the son of Isaac Coan, a man who bore well his part in the pioneer days of the old Palmetto state, established a good home and reared a good family.

The parents of the subject of this sketch were natives of Ireland and Virginia, the mother's side of the house being well known and influential in their native locality.

Mr. Coan had little opportunity to obtain a high intellectual training, owing to the fact that during his youth primitive schools were taught only a few months out of each year, and also the children of the pioneers were compelled to assist in the important work of home building, but William E. has been a close observer and has done much extensive miscellaneous reading so that he is well informed on general topics.

When he reached man's estate Mr. Coan was united in marriage with Mary Ann Whaley, daughter of a sterling old Hoosier family, having been born in Pike county, Indiana. Her father was William Whaley.

To Mr. and Mrs. William Elice Coan four children were born, namely: Francis, Allen, William and Malica.

Mr. Coan has devoted his life principally to agricultural pursuits which he has made a success, having always been a hard worker and economical, so that in his old age he is enjoying the well earned fruits of the labor of his earlier years.

In his political relations Mr. Coan loyally supports the Democratic ticket.

Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 500-501.

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