Mrs. Mary A. Raber


Comparatively few ladies are possessed of the executive ability and good judgment which characterizes the subject of this sketch. She owns and operates successfully a good farm of 240 acres on section 33, and also has twenty acres of timber on section 20, in Ward's Grove Township. She has been a resident of this township many years, and, as the wife of one of its pioneers, has seen the country developed from a wild and uncultivated stretch of land into fertile farms and beautiful homesteads. Since having been left a widow she has managed her property with rare good judgment, having an excellent understanding of the best methods employed to carry on agriculture successfully.

Mrs. Raber was born at Reading, Pa., June 30, 1843, and is the daughter of John H. and Elizabeth (Bowen) Fisher, who were also natives of the Keystone State; the father born Sept. 24, 1817, and the mother in 1819. The paternal grandfather, Joseph Fisher, was a native of New Jersey, where he spent his entire life engaged in farming pursuits, and died in 1833. He traced his descent to England, and it is probable that the family was represented in America during the Colonial days. The grandfather, Samuel Bowen, was born in Pennsylvania, in 1783, and labored as a coal miner in Schuylkill County during the years of his active life. He died in Pennsylvania, in 1853. His father was a native of England, and upon coming to America located first in New Jersey.

The father of Mrs. Raber learned the miller's trade, and was engaged in this business on the banks of the Susquehanna until 1855. He then emigrated to Illinois, and located in Stephenson County, near Lena, where he sojourned a period of five years. Next he came to Pleasant Valley, this county, and purchased forty acres of railroad land, which he improved, and upon which he erected good buildings. In the meantime he also engaged in milling on Plum River. In 1873 he sold out and removed to Lancaster County, Neb., settling on eighty acres of land near Bennett, which he still owns and occupies. Here also he has effected good improvements. He is now retired from active labor and rents his land. Both he and his estimable wife are people highly respected in their community, and are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Politically, he is a stanch Republican.

The four children born to the parents of Mrs. Raber included three daughters and a son, of whom Mary A. was the eldest. Her sister Elizabeth is a resident of Firth, Neb.; Ida lives near Bennett, Neb.; William is farming in Nebraska. The subject of this sketch was a child of twelve years when she removed with her parents to Illinois, in 1855. She was a maiden of seventeen years when they located in this county. She received a good education, and at the age of eighteen occupied herself as a school-teacher two summers. Later she engaged in dressmaking at Freeport, which she followed until her marriage.

William Raber became the husband of our subject at Freeport, Ill., Feb. 24, 1867. He was born in Ward's Grove, this county, July 24, 1841, and is the son of Jacob and Sarah (Kern) Raber, who were natives of Rabersburg, Centre Co., Pa. The paternal grandfather, Jacob Raber, Sr., carried on farming in his native State of Pennsylvania until 1838, when he came to Illinois and purchased a farm in Kent Township, Stephenson County. He accumulated a good property and died there. He was an honest and reliable citizen, a fine representative of his substantial German ancestry. Grandfather Kern spent his last years in Pennsylvania.

Jacob Raber, upon coming to this county, located in Ward's Grove Township, and in due time became thc owner of 469 acres of land. Upon this he effected good improvements, and engaged in farming and stock-raising. He put up a large house and barn, and died there in June, 1882, at the age of seventy-five years. Politically, he voted the Democratic ticket, and in religious matters was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he officiated as Class-Leader, and was one of its chief pillars. He contributed liberally to the building of the church edifice, and ever maintained the deepest interest in the welfare and advancement of the society. The mother passed away thirty-five years prior to the decease of her husband, in 1847, at the age of forty-six years.

To the parents of Mr. Raber there were born six children. The eldest, a daughter, Eliza, is a resident of Freeport, Ill.; Mary operates eighty-eight acres of land in Antelope County, Neb.; John is farming in Washington State; Catherine is the wife of Dr. Fishburn, of Orangeville, Ill.; Jacob is occupied at farming in O'Brien County, Iowa; William was the youngest of the family. The latter was reared to manhood on his father's farm, and mostly through his own efforts acquired a very good education. For two years he was employed as a clerk in his father's store, and officiated one year in the same capacity in a drug-store at Lena. During the progress of the Civil War he enlisted as a Union soldier, Aug. 9, 1862, in Company G, 92d Illinois Mounted Infantry, and served until the close. He endured the usual privations and hardships of a soldier's life, and contracted a disease of the eyes from which he suffered ever afterward.

William Raber, upon returning from the army, engaged in farming at his father's homestead until his marriage. In the spring of 1868 he purchased 160 acres of land, upon which there were no improvements to speak of, and worked this until 1871, with good results. He then purchased eighty acres adjoining, and thus had a farm of 240 acres, where he effected good improvements and continued to live until 1879. Then, renting his land, he removed to Mt. Carroll, and engaged in the manufacture of farm gates and pumps, and resided there until 1881. In that year he returned to the farm, and engaged in agricultural pursuits. He rested from his earthly labors on the 7th of November, 1883. Of this union there were born three children - Louemma, John O., and Winnie M. The eldest daughter is teaching school in Stephenson County; the others are at home with their mother. Mr. Raber was decidedly Democratic in his political views, and had served on the Grand and Petit Juries. He was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Kent.

Mrs. Raber differs somewhat in political views from her husband, she being a stanch Republican. She is a lady of decided ideas, and keeps herself posted in regard to current events. She has managed the farm since the death of her husband, and has put up most of the out-buildings, sheds, etc. A branch of Plum River affords sufficient water to the farm, which is largely devoted to stock-raising. Mrs. Raber usually keeps about fifty head of cattle, together with a number of graded draft horses, two teams of which are used in the operations of the farm. These operations she superintends herself wholly, and has displayed the sound sense and good management which not often falls to the lot even of a man.

Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)