Iles, Elijah (1796-1883)
Family Papers, 1824-1911 [bulk 1824-1887]
1.8 linear feet (1 ½ manuscript boxes + 6 oversize bound volumes and 1 oversize folder)
Elijah Iles (1796-1883), a shopkeeper, farmer, politician, landowner and real estate developer in Springfield, Illinois; Washington Iles (1800-1871), Elijah’s brother, a farmer and businessman in Sangamon County and Springfield, Illinois; and their relatives and descendants. Born in Kentucky to Thomas and Elizabeth (Crockett) Iles, both Iles brothers had settled in Illinoisby 1825. Elijah Iles opened the first retail store in Springfieldin 1821, and, with 3 other investors, bought, surveyed and platted the town site in 1822-1823. He was a State Senator (1826-1834), and a Winnebago (1827) and Black Hawk (1831) Indian War veteran. He spend the major part of his life investing in business, developing land and promoting Springfield, Illinois, and died a very wealthy man with no direct heirs. Washington Iles settled in Woodside Township in 1825. Besides farming, he had a wool carding business and other investments. He and his wife, Ann (Foster) Iles had 11 children. They and Elijah’s many other nieces and nephews inherited his fortune.
Correspondence, general merchandise account books, land sale accounts and records, real estate plat maps, deeds and other real estate contracts and conveyances, estate records, genealogical materials, clippings. Most of the business records are those of Elijah Iles. The genealogical materials cover the Iles, Crockett, Foster, Mauzy (W. Iles’ mother-in-law’s maiden name), Lewis (Obed Lewis was W. Iles’ son-in-law), and other related families. Of special interest: letters from Elijah to his son, Thomas, in 1861 discussing the breakup of the Union; and the records of payments from A. Lincoln (BV 5, page 40 & Box 1, Folder 11 (BV) 2nd page #13) for a lot in Iles’ development, and from William D. Herndon for materials for building the new State Capitol (BV 5, September 20 & November 15, 1837).
The following items were transferred out of the collection: 3 broadsides, numerous magazines, 3 newspapers, 1 book, 17 photographs, 1 photo album, 53 cartes-de-visites, 4 tintypes, and a silk handkerchief illustrated with the likeness of T. Roosevelt.
Access: Open for Research
Acc. No: P.A., 72-3, 85-51-6
Processed by: Cheryl Schnirring (February 1985) and John Stassi (July 1998)
Elijah Iles Page 2 Biographical Sketches
Elijah Iles (1796-1883) was born on March 28, 1796, the second child and eldest son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Crockett) Iles, in a one room log cabin in the wilderness that later became Bath County, Kentucky. His mother died in 1802, leaving 5 children: Polly, Elijah,William,Washington, and 8 day old Betsey, most of whom were sent off to live with relatives. His schooling consisted of his father’s tutoring and four winters in area schools, 4 to 15 miles away. After this was completed, he taught school for a winter to neighboring children. Meanwhile, he continued to help his father with their farm, carrying on alone from 1810, when his father remarried and moved to another part of the county. In 1816, his father gave him $300 to get him started for himself. Fifty years and many wise investments later, he retired a millionaire landowner and real estate developer.
After 5 years spent herding and breeding cattle in Kentucky, and land speculating and storekeeping in Missouri, Elijah arrived in 1821 at what had been designated Springfield, county seat of newly created Sangamon County,Illinois. He opened the first retail store in the area in July of that year, and began buying up the land that the new town would be built upon. In 1822, he arranged for a town site to be surveyed, and in the following year joined up with Pascal Enos, Thomas Cox, and John Taylor to buy up 4 adjoining quarter sections and plat the town they called Calhoun. Local residents continued to call it Springfield, which became its official name when the town was incorporated in 1832.
Elijah served in the militia as a major during the Winnebago Indian War (1827), a private during the Black Hawk War (1831), and a captain in the frontier guard in 1832, but it was the first rank he held that stuck; he was known as “Major” Iles for the rest of his life.
In 1826, Elijah was elected to the Illinois State Senate and served there until 1834. He sold his store in 1831, and took up farming and investing in businesses and properties. In 1838, he donated the site of the Home for the Friendless, later the Family Service Center. In 1865, he was one of the pallbearers for Abraham Lincoln’s funeral.
Elijah married Malinda Benjamin, a native of Lima, N.Y.in 1824. They had two children: Louisa Elizabeth (1825-1857) and Ira Thomas (1830-1877), both of whom died without issue before Elijah did. When his wife died in 1866, Elijah retired from active business pursuits, and spent his winters in Florida. He wrote an autobiography, Sketches of Early Life and Times in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois, in 1883, just months before he died in September 4. Much of his fortune was left to his many nieces, nephews and other relatives.
Washington Iles (1800-1871), Elijah’s brother, was born inBath County,Kentucky, on July 18, 1800; He first visited Illinois in 1818, sent by a wealthy neighbor to collect the money owed to him for horses sold on credit to settlers there. Back in Kentucky, he married Ann Foster (1804-1866) in 1822, and they lived near Owensville, Kentucky, for a few years before moving with their two children to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1825.
Iles and his family settled and farmed in Woodside Township, eventually owning more than 2000 acres of land there. Besides farming, Washingtonhad a wool-carding business, and engaged in various mercantile activities in Springfield. He served in the militia during the Winnebago (1827) and Black Hawk (1831) Wars; aided in bringing the steamboat Talisman to Springfield in March 1832; contributed to the cost of moving the state capitol to Springfield in 1838; and was among the first aldermen elected to the Springfield City Council when the city was chartered in 1840.
Elijah Iles Page 3 Biographical Sketches
Washington Iles (cont)Washington and Ann Iles had a total of 11 children. Of their 8 daughters, Cordelia became the wife of Springfield carriage-maker, Obed Lewis, and Nancy V., the wife of Norman M. Broadwell, who was a state legislator, judge, and mayor of Springfield.
Ann Foster Iles died August 28, 1866, and her husband, Washington, on July 4, 1871.
Elijah Iles Page 4
1 1 Correspondence, 1824-1911 and no date
2 Deeds, 1838-1876
3 Division 3Sale Notebook and loose items, 1836-1878
4 Elijah Iles Estate Papers, 1884-1887
5 Washington Iles Estate Papers, 1858, 1871-1878
6 Washington Iles Miscellaneous Papers, 1834, 1835
7 Bank Books, 1865-1870 and 1883-1887 [two items]
8 Genealogy, 1878 and no date
9 Blank Forms and Printed Material, 1836, 1858, and no date
10 (BV) Record Book of Lands and Town Lots, November 7, 1823-March
10, 1870 [includes plats]
Oversize MS 1-4 Plats of Farm Property and Town Lots, no date [includes E. Iles
Addition toSpringfield, 1836]
11 (BV) Real EstateSale Book, April 20, 1836-September 29, 1875
Oversize BV 1 Ledger, November 17, 1824-November 2, 1826
Oversize BV 2 Ledger, May 1, 1827-December 21, 1829
Oversize BV 3 Daily Sales Journal, September 25, 1828-January 29, 1830
Oversize BV 4 Daily Sales Journal, February 10, 1830-August 30, 1830
Oversize BV 5 Daybook, September 6, 1836-December 11, 1871
Oversize BV 6 Ledger, 1836-1876 [indexed]
1 ½ 1 (BV) Blotter, January 5, 1838-November 10, 1860
2 (BV) Record of Lands and Lots Listed to be Assessed, 1868
3 (BV) Cord Wood Accounts, 1869-1871
4 (BV) Memoranda and Agreements re:PastureLand, 1871-1872