Among the representative citizens and leading farmers of Serena township,
LaSalle county, none perhaps is better known or more highly respected than
the subject of this sketch, William Perry Warren.
Mr. Warren is a son of one of the early pioneers of LaSalle county, Nathan Warren. Nathan Warren was born in the state of Maine, in the year 1806, a son of Samuel Warren, also a native of that state; emigrated to New York state with his parents when a child, and in 1836, accompanied by his family, came west to Illinois, making the journey hither by wagon, spending a month en route and landing in safety at his destination, Serena township, LaSalle county, October 20. He bought land from the government, in section 8, and here improved a farm and reared his family. Considering the many obstacles he had to encounter incident to life in a new locality while he improved and cultivated his farm and supplied the wants of a family, his success was remarkable. He had little or no advantages for obtaining an education in his youth, and it was not until he was the head of a family that he learned to read and write, then being taught to do so by his wife. Later in life a great reader, well informed on the topics of the day, and possessing a strong individuality, he became a potent factor in the pioneer locality. On all political matters he entertained decided views. The Morgan incident made him a radical anti-Mason man and the slavery question found him on the side of the most intense abolitionists. When the Republican party was organized he identified himself with it and became one of the leading Republicans in Serena township, which from time to time he served in various official capacities, always promoting the best interests of the public. In every sense of the word he was a Christian gentleman, and was a member of the old "close communion" Baptist church. He died in Serena, in 1886. Of his family, we record that his first wife, whose maiden name was Lydia Baxter, was the daughter of Connecticut parents. She died in 1846. Subsequently he married Maria Lester. The children of the first marriage were named William P., Fannie M. and Lucien L. The daughter is married and lives in Ottawa, Illinois, and the son Lucien is a resident of Galesburg, this state. There were four daughters by the second marriage, all now deceased, namely: Laura and Emily; Mary, the wife of Almon Bristol; and Florence, wife of Elmer Perkins.
Returning now to the immediate subject of this sketch, William P. Warren, we find that he was born in Madison county, New York, June 28, 1828, and was eight years old when he accompanied his parents to Illinois. In the pioneer schools of the locality in which they settled he received his early training. He relates an incident of his experience as a school-boy calculated to undeceive the modern youth as to the actual conditions under which the pioneer boys and girls of the west were educated. Many of the early schools were kept in dwellings that had been abandoned or for any reason were unoccupied, and in this instance a double log house was being used by the school. One night it rained and some roaming cattle took shelter on the porch connecting the two buildings. One of the animals found the leather latch-string and began chewing it, which caused the door to open, and in walked the cows and took possession of the school-room! Books were scattered about the room and there were other evidences that cattle were not the tidiest housekeepers in the world. The puncheon floor had a passage through to the cellar and one of the cows found its way thither, where it was found by our subject the next morning when he went to school! The children of the closing days of the nineteenth century are scarcely able to imagine that very many such incidents, and even more laughable ones, actually occurred where now are to be found such modern and greatly superior accommodations and appliances for their instruction.
On reaching manhood Mr. Warren continued in the occupation in which he had been reared, that of farming, and settled down to it in earnest after his return from the Pacific coast, whither he went in quest of gold. It was March 20, 1850, that he started for California. This journey he made across the plains, by caravan, and after five months of weary travel he landed in "Hangtown,"' now Placerville, California, where he began work as a prospector. While he did not, in the language of the miner, "strike it rich," in the course of two years he got enough of the shining metal together to pay for a large piece of the land he now owns. He returned home by the way of the Nicaragua route, purchased the partial swamp that is now so well improved and so tillable, and has been a successful farmer ever since. The prairies of Illinois in their wild state were full of "rattlers" and it was a continuous battle between the snake and the settler as to supremacy. The ground was rife with them in the spring, the fields were overrun with them in summer and the meadows were guarded by them in the autumn. While stacking wheat on a chilly day one season, these pests (having secreted there for warmth) would fall out of the bundles upon Mr. Warren's head or be thrown from the load by his father to be killed by the son, and on that particular day he killed twenty! He says he never let a snake get away that he saw, heard or smelled!
Mr. Warren has ever been a Republican in politics, interested in the success of his party and the general good of his township and county. He has filled the office of deputy county surveyor, which business he acquired while acting as assistant for Surveyor Brumback many years ago. He makes plans for bridges and other structures requiring the services of a civil engineer, and has acquired an excellent reputation for his work in this line.
During the latter part of the civil war Mr. Warren was in the Union armv ten months; was stationed at Mobile, Alabama, as a member of the Forty-seventh Illinois Infantry, and saw the surrender of Fort Blakely. At the close of the war he received an honorable discharge and returned to his home.
At the age of twenty-six years Mr. Warren was united in marriage to Miss Delia A., daughter of Samuel Flint, of Ohio. She died March 7, 1893. To this union we record the birth of these children, namely: Marion A., the eldest; Horace, who married Lyda Roe; Geneva (deceased), who was the wife of John Woolsey; Lewis E., who married Helga Holmba; and Harry and Sherman, both single and still at home. In 1894 Mr. Warren married for a second wife Mrs. Louise Granteer, nee Dann, of Pennsylvania birth.
Extracted 19 Dec 2018 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 578-580.