Peter Yeager


The snug homestead of this gentleman is pleasantly located on section 21, in Ward's Grove Township, and consists of ninety-five acres of well-cultivated land, with neat and substantial buildings. Mr. Yeager may properly be numbered among the prominent men of his community, and occupies the office of Township Collector. He is a stanch Democrat politically, and made for himself a good record during the Civil War, serving in the Union army about one year. He is a man of more than ordinary intelligence, and keeps himself posted upon matters of general interest. He has contributed his full quota in developing the resources of his township, and in raising the standard of morality and good order.

Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, was the native place of our subject, he having been born in the vicinity of Frankfort, on the 5th of March, 1847, and when a little lad four years of age was brought by his parents to America. They left Mainz, July 4, and embarked at Bremen on a sailing ship, which landed them in New York City forty-eight days later. For a period of four years thereafter they sojourned in the city of Buffalo, then removed to Stephenson County, this State, where our subject grew to manhood on a farm, and walked four miles to school to obtain the little schooling which he secured. Later he employed his leisure time with instructive books, and picked up what useful information he could, and is now, without question, a well-informed man.

On the 13th of August, 1864, when a youth of seventeen years, and during the progress of the Civil War, Mr. Yeager enlisted in Company E, 146th Illinois Infantry, an independent regiment, and was mustered into service at Camp Butler, near Springfield, on the 5th of September. He went with his comrades through Kentucky to Memphis, Tenn., and thence to Huntsville, Ala., skirmishing frequently with the enemy, although their duty was largely to guard prisoners. They did not sojourn very long in any one place, and in the meantime went to and from Springfield six or eight times. Upon the death of President Lincoln our subject was one of those detailed to guard his remains, and took part in the funeral ceremonies, accompanying the immense procession to the cemetery. On the 8th of July, 1865, our subject received his honorable discharge, and soon afterward returned to Stephenson County.

Mr. Yeager now remained on the farm with his father until twenty-two years old. He then engaged in agriculture on his own account, renting land in Kent Township, upon which he operated three years. Thence he removed to his present place, to which he has since given his time and attention, with the results which the passing traveler to-day views with admiring eyes. He operated as a renter the first three years, then purchased ninety-five acres, forty of which were improved, he has fifteen acres of timber, and brought the balance to a good state of cultivation. In addition to this he works eighty acres of rented land adjoining.

Upon this farm a house had been built, but our subject put up the barn and other buildings. The land is watered by a running stream, and Mr. Yeager avails himself of labor-saving machinery. There is a goodly assortment of forest and fruit trees and an apple orchard two acres in extent. In his stock operations Mr. Yeager has become a successful breeder of graded Short-horn cattle, Norman and English draft horses, of which he keeps about eight head, and Poland-China swine, having of the latter a full-blooded male. He utilizes two teams in the cultivation of his land and the general farm work, and raises quantities of grain, largely corn and oats. It is hardly necessary to state that these various industries yield our subject a handsome income.

The 29th of June, 1869, witnessed the marriage of our subject with Miss Mary A. Strange, at Grariot, Wis. This lady is the daughter of John and Matilda (Bogenrief) Strange, the former a native of Greene Mount, Mass., and the latter of Pennsylvania. John Strange, the paternal grandfather of Mrs. Yeager, was a well-to-do Massachusetts farmer, but left the Bay State in early manhood, locating first in Stephenson County, Ill. Later he came to this county, where he spent his last days. Grandfather Samuel Bogenrief removed from Pennsylvania to Stephenson County, Ill., at an early day, and became the owner of 300 acres of well-improved land, from which he made quite a little fortune. He died there about 1874.

The father of the wife of our subject came a single man to Stephenson County, this State, where he was married. Later he purchased eighty acres of land in Ward's Grove Township, this county, which he improved, and upon which he farmed until his death, in 1862, at the age of forty-five years. The mother survived her husband until 1865, and died when a young woman, aged thirty-three. Of their four children, the eldest, a son, Samuel, died in Ward's Grove, when about twenty-four years old; Mary, Mrs. Yeager, was the second born; Eliza and Ira are deceased.

Mrs. Yeager was born in Ward's Grove, this county, June 14, 1853. She remained a member of the parental household until her marriage, and is the mother of four children: Charles H., Samuel William, Oliver (who died when two years old), and Emmert. The three surviving are all at home with their parents. Mr. Yeager has occupied most of the local offices. In addition to his office of Collector he has been Township Clerk for the last eight years and School Director for a period of thirteen years, also has been Commissioner of Highways and Road Overseer. He has had a material influence in the councils of his party, serving on the Central Committee, and otherwise making himself useful in the ranks of the Democracy. He has also served on the Grand and Petit Juries. In religious matters he belongs to the United Brethren Church at Kent, in which he has served as Steward, Trustee, Secretary, and Superintendent of the Sunday-school. Socially, he belongs to William R. Goddard Post, G. A. R., at Lena. He is directly interested in the Ward's Grove and Stockton Mutual Fire and Lightning Insurance Companies.

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