Oliver Stevenson from Dr. Craig Stevenson's History compiled 1984
Oliver Stevenson married Margaret Sable on March 4, 1896 in Newark, Illinois. At the time of their marriage, Oliver was farming on the Ed Fletcher farm on the east side of the road one half mile south of Route 52 on Route 47.
The Stevensons had two children while they lived on the Fletcher farm. Hattie Amanda was born December 16, 1896 and Arthur Barnhart was born September 7, 1898. Oliver initially worked as a farm hand for Ed Fletcher but Fletcher later lent Oliver money to buy equipment and Oliver became a tenant on Mr. Fletcher’s farm.
February 27, 1900 Oliver bought a 160 acre farm in Kendall Township, Kendall County, Illinois, for $75 per acre from Ed Runner. Oliver, Maggie, and the two children moved to their new home in the spring of 1900. Here more children joined the family. Lyle Edwin was born November 8, 1900; Bernice Theodora was born November 20, 1903; and Henry Lee was born November 19, 1905.
While on the farm, Oliver built an addition to the house, a scale house, a crib, tool shed, hay shed, hog houses, and a steam power building where the washing machine, cream separator, and shop were housed. A steam engine was linked to an overhead shaft that powered the impliments via belts. He also moved a granary from the field northeast of the buildings to the farm yard.
Oliver was a community-minded individual. He served as the Lisbon Township tax assessor from 1904-1906 and was a member of the Board of Education for the Pletcher Country School for a number of years. The Stevenson children attended the Pletcher School, which was located one-fourth mile west of their home. While Oliver was serving on the school board, a discipline problem arose. Many new young immigrants in their teens and twenties attended Pletcher School to learn English. A female teacher had a difficult time handling the older boys when they became unruly. Oliver had an answer to the problem. He contacted his cousin, Ole Thompson, from Paxton and asked him to teach at Fletcher. Ole accepted and there were no more problems with discipline.
Perhaps it was appropriate that Oliver serve on the school board, since his own children probably made up a large percentage of the school’s population. To the five children already crowding the dinner table, some new additions were added. Orville Milford arrived on October 23, 1907 and was followed by a sister Edith Marie on February 11, 1911. Helen Margaret was born February 3, 1914. Sadly a stillborn daughter arrived in 1916.
While Oliver was on the Pletcher school board, he asked the board to allow the Helmar Lutheran Church confirmation class to be held in the school. The board decision was to keep church and state separate and the request was denied. Instead, the class was held on the west side of the Stevenson corn crib.
The new Helmar Lutheran church as built in 1901, and Oliver was active in the building process. He would leave home at 4:00 a.m. with a lumber wagon and travel to Joliet to get the large timbers needed for the church. Late in the evening Maggie would listen for the lumber wagon crossing the bridge down the road, knowing that Oliver would soon be home.
On December 2, 1908, Oliver for $157 per acre purchased a 320 29 acre farm in southern Ford County, Illinois, between Paxton and Ludlow. The land was purchased from Augustana College and Theological Seminary then located in Paxton. The Illinois Central Railroad had been given parcels of land by the government along the railroad’s right of way. The land was to be sold and the proceeds to be used to build the railroad. The railroad had made an agreement with Augustana College that the college would buy the land from the railroad for a relatively low price and resell the land, using the profit to benefit the college. The college sent representatives to Scandinavia, especially Sweden, to convince people to immigrate to the area and buy the land. The land purchased by Oliver was one of these parcels. When Oliver purchased the land there were no buildings on it and the land needed to be tiled. He borrowed some money and started the improvements. John Thompson and A. J. Lawrence managed the land until the family moved there. In March of 1918 the Stevenson family moved to this new Ford County farm. They loaded four train cars at Kentland station with cattle, horses, tools, and household goods and traveled to their new home. The old Kendall County farm was rented to Hugh Van Cleve, the young man who had recently married Oliver and Margaret’s oldest daughter Hattie.
Two more children were born to Oliver and Margaret after the move to the Ford County farm. Oliver Thomas was born September 10, 1918, and Howard Raymond was October 28, 1920.
On March 4, 1921, Oliver and Margaret celebratd their 25th wedding anniversary with a party at their home. One of the common Sunday afternoon past times was sitting 30 around the dining room table and reading spiritual passages from the “brown book" in Norwegian. Card playing was never allowed in the Stevenson house, for Oliver felt it was a sin to play cards.
January 9, 1925, was a warm sunny winter day and Oliver decided to catch the interurban railroad train, which stopped one fourth mile from the farm, and go to Paxton to settle up with the grain elevator about some corn that had been harvested and sold the previous fall. He had not dressed too warmly since he knew the train schedule and realized that he would not have to wait very long. He was unaware that the schedule had changed. He had to wait for an hour. In that time he got chilled and came down with pneumonia. His family came home to help him, but despite the good care, he died January 11, 1925. Oliver was known by his friends, neighbors, and relatives as being a generous and helpful man. If anyone needed help, they would go to Oliver.
At the time of his death, Oliver owned 480 acres of land but due to the hard times, it was heavily mortgaged.
Art took over management of the farm with the other boys that were at home helping out. They hired a number of hired men over the years including Percy Paulson. Percy was a brother to Sadie Paulson, who had married Lyle. Margaret remained living with her children on the farm for the rest of her life. On April 1, 1952, Margaret died at the age of 75 while visiting her daughter, Hattie, and daughter-in-law, Sadie Paulson Stevenson in Kendall County. Both Oliver and Margaret were buried in the Helmar cemetery in Kendall County.
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