1925 Biography - Lawrence Fern

Lawrence W. Fern was a native of England, born in Derbyshire, Jan. 14, 1818. He came with his parents to the United States when only six years old, and states in his biography that they sailed from Liverpool, with a Captain Collins, and were sixty-nine days on the voyage. They lost their way in a fog, and when it cleared they found themselves on the coast of Nova Scotia. Mr. Fern's parents settled in New York State, where he received a liberal education, and was admitted to the bar when twenty-one years old and practiced in both New York and Illinois, coming to the latter state as a resident, in 1843, although a lawyer he followed farming and teaching a greater part of his life. He was one of the pioneer educators of this county and was county surveyor in 1865. He purchased one thousand acres of land which was thought to be a very foolish idea at that time, his neighbors called him land poor. He paid one dollar taxes in 1846, and for forty-five years paid forty-five dollars a year taxes. His wife was Ellen Lasley, a native of Kentucky. Their children were W. J. (2), Andrew J. (2), a farmer of this county, Sarah E. (2), wife of E. H. Lemons, Missouri L. (2), wife of J. J. Whiteside, a merchant of Simpson, India L. (2), wife of William Simpson, Fransis (2), wife of Alfred Willis. Mr. Fern was a mason, a republican and in religion, a Missionary Baptist. He died in 1890. W. J. Fern (2) was born in this county in 1846. He remained on his father’s farm till about sixteen years old, receiving a good education in the district school. He afterward attended College Hill Seminary and later graduated from Rush Medical College, Chicago, Ill., when twenty-one years of age. He began the practice of medicine in Grantsburg, this county, 1868. The following year he married Sarah J., the daughter of S. D. and S. J. Poor. They lived five years in that community, two years in Vienna, and removed to Tunnel Hill, where they resided the remainder of their lives. He had an extensive practice and was a trusted physician, also owned a drug store there for many years. Dr. and Mrs. Fern had three children, Nora (3), who married R. S. Gilliam, Lawrence D. (3) of Vienna, who is engaged in the drug business who married Margaret Whitehead, two sons were born to them, Herbert (4) and Louis (4). Herbert was drowned at New Orleans, La., 1924. W. J. (3) married Ada Taylor and their children are William, a pharmacist, and Lucile (4), a teacher who married Mr. McCuan, 1924.

Extracted 06 Feb 2017 by Norma Hass from 1925 A History of Johnson County, Illinois, by Mrs. P. T. Chapman, pages 375-376.

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