Mr. William Farrell

On April 12, 1887, there passes away, under the most distressing circumstances, one of the oldest settlers of Pleasant Valley, Mr. William Farrell.  About half past eleven o'clock on that day he went a short distance from the house to watch a fire which was burning in the timber close by.  He did not return at the dinner hour, but no significance was attached to his absence by his family, owing to the nature of his errand.  In the meantime the fire advanced and when the family came out after dinner, they found a large portion of an adjoining fence in flames.  They set to work to put out the fire, and while doing so were horrified beyond the power of pen to relate, to find their father lying dead beside the fence at a point in a ravine some twenty five or thirty rods distant from the house, but hidden from the house by an intervening hill covered with young timber.  The general opinion is that he died a painless death, dying from over-exertion or over-heating or probably both.  The fire had passed over the remains, consuming a portion of the clothing on the lower portions of the body, but not burning any portion of the body itself sufficient to cause death.

Mr. Farrell came to Boston direct from Ireland, forty-eight years ago.  He drifted from there westward, stopping at different points in the East on his way to Chicago, from which point seven years after landing in America, he sailed for the gold fields of Australia.  He was absent about twenty two months, one-half of which time was spent on the ocean in traveling forth and back, and abounded throughout is startling adventure and many appalling dangers.  His venture, however, was quite successful and on his return to Chicago he invested there in real estate, which he always retained and which has now grown to be very valuable property.  One year after his return from Australia he removed to Pleasant Valley, and purchased the homestead on which he always resided and which contains one hundred and eighty acres of land.

Those of his family who survive him are his widow and son William and daughter Maggie, living on the old homestead; and their son John who is married and resides on an adjoining farm.  It is not exaggeration to say of his memory that he was a quiet, orderly peace-loving Christian citizen, a man of temperate even habits of a cheerful, sunny disposition and of an exceptionally respectful and gentlemanly bearing.  He left not one enemy behind.  This is saying much but it is strictly true and proves that Mr. Farrell possessed in an ample measure the qualities ascribed to him.  Throughout his remarkable model life no mortal ever spoke his name in anger; against his character no harsh word ever spoken; against his reputation no dart was ever hurled.  The circle of his friends was co-existent with his acquaintances.  His life was a monumental argument in favor of sobriety and moderation.  Owing to his genial nature and orderly life he was a stranger to sickness, and the sunshine of his life seemed as bright and spirited at the ripe old age of 77 as ever it did in his youth.

A large concourse of sorrowing friends followed the remains to the Catholic churchyard in Pleasant Valley where they now repose and let us hope that his spirit has entered upon the reward of the just.

(William Farrell's widow, Catherine (Griffin) Farrell, died two years later on June 5, 1879 after falling out of a hack (buggy) in Mt. Carroll.  They are both buried in St.. Patrick's Cemetery south of Stockton, IL.)

Submitted by Shari Warren