Richland County


Among the native born residents of Richland county who have reached a well-merited success we must certainly include the name of Harrison Umfleet. He is now approaching his eightieth year and has been prosperous in his agricultural calling. Few men are better known in this township and county than he. Honesty and fair dealing have been his watchwords, and these twin virtues have been personified in his active life.

Harrison Umfleet was born on October 26, 1829, in Richland county, or as it was then known, Lawrence county. His family lived in the vicinity of Claremont. He was the son of Seth and Rebecca Umfleet, his mother's maiden name being Cummings, a daughter of Daniel and (Durman) Cummings. His father was born in North Carolina and his mother in Kentucky, her birth occurring in 1810. His father came with his parents from North Carolina to Kentucky in the year 1815, in which state they settled on a farm. Here he remained with his parents until he married Rebecca Cummings, February 4, 1827. They then went to farming for themselves, and in 1828, moved to Lawrence county, Illinois, making the long journey on horseback and ferrying the Ohio and Wabash rivers. He did not sell his farm on leaving Kentucky, possibly for the reason that he regarded his journey as a tentative one. Seth Umfleet first entered forty acres near Sumner on government license, paying one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre for it. It was all prairie land at the time. He, however, quickly set to work and erected a log house and stable and a rail fence on the settlement. At the time he was possessor of only one horse and it was much of a drawback to him. In order to draw the rails he hitched his horse to a sled and loaded three rails on at a time, carrying another on his shoulder, during the building of the fence. At the same time he was busy in another occupation. He taught country school in Claremont township at the same time. When Harrison Umfleet was but an infant his parents returned to Kentucky on a visit to his grandparents, making the journey once more on horseback. It was then a bad time for such a journey, being late in the fall of 1829. They returned to Illinois again in the early winter of 1830, where they farmed in Claremont township. Soon afterwards they sold the place and moved into Lawrence county, buying forty acres on state road. Here they remained five or six years when they moved to South Sumner, which was their home until 1865, whereupon they again moved, this time to Olney, Illinois. Here the family remained until the death of Mrs. Seth Umfleet, in the fall of 1871, at the age of sixty-one years. Seth Umfleet married again, secondly a widow Truskett, and Harrison Umfleet lived near his father until his death in February, 1892, at the age of eighty-seven years.

Harrison's mother was the daughter of Daniel and Mrs. Kilburn, both natives of Kentucky, where they died on a farm near Crab Orchard. Her mother died when she was but ten years of age and her father survived for many years, eventually dying in Kentucky at a period after she had married.

The subject of our sketch remained at home with his parents, helping and assisting them in their daily round of work, until his marriage to Martha Elston, on April 3, 1853. His wife was the daughter of Martha and Lucy Elston, her mother's name being Cropper. They were natives of Kentucky, who had moved from there to Ohio, where Martha was born on June 10, 1837. At an early age she removed with her parents to Richland county, Illinois, where her father died at the age of seventy-nine, after he had survived her mother who died at the age of fifty-seven years on February 1, 1858; her father's death occurring in the fall of 1879. Mrs. Umfleet remained with her parents up to the time of her marriage in 1853. She was the seventh in order of birth of ten children who all grew to maturity. One of her brothers participated in the Civil war.

Harrison Umfleet was the second in order of birth of a family of four children, all ci whom grew to maturity. His oldest brother, James Fountain, served in the Mexican war under the gallant General Taylor (well known as "Old Rough-and-Ready"), for about three or four years and was never wounded in any encounter.

When Harrison Umfleet married in 1853 he moved onto a forty-acre farm in Lawrence county, inherited from his father, and lived en it until 1864, when he sold the place and bought two hundred acres in Preston township, Richland county, for which he paid six dollars an acre. This is the spot on which he and his wife now live. He has prospered in his farming business and has greatly improved the farmstead. The land is mostly all under cultivation, an improved type of buildings have been erected, and fencing and other improvements have been carried out upon the property. He and his wife are now living on the place, having retired from active work. He has divided up some of his land among his children, but yet has one hundred acres in his possession. This is being taken care of by one of his sons, who, with his youngest sister, lives upon the place with their parents.

Harrison Umfleet obtained his early education during his attendance at the subscription schools in Lawrence county. Owing to the conditions prevalent in those days he was not able to attain very much in the educational way, although his younger brother Benjamin went very far in that line. He taught school for years in Richland and Lawrence county, and served through the greater part of the Civil war. On enlisting a second time he was assigned to a post in the Christian Commission.

To Harrison Umfleet and his wife six children have been born, namely: Olive, Lucy, William, Seth, Matthew and Rebecca. All married with the exception of Rebecca, who is the youngest. He and his wife have led a married life of singular happiness, and their sons and daughters have always been a source of much gratification to them.

Harrison Umfleet has played an active part in county and township politics. In the old regime his father and elder brother belonged to the Whig party. He is himself a Republican and a loyal supporter of his party. John C. Fremont was the first Presidential candidate he recorded his vote for. He has been for several terms a School Trustee and as a School Director and he has been also road overseer for many terms.

Practical religious work has been one of the characteristics of Harrison Umfleet and his family, being staunch believers in the Bible and church work. Though he himself favors the Baptist communion, his wife and children are members of the Christian church and work actively for its expansion.

Extracted 21 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 454-456.

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