Monday, February 18, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge Day 18 - Bringing Families Together

Jasper County within

 Merging families in Jasper County, Illinois

Willow Hill in Jasper County
 Jasper County, Illinois was formed in 1831 from parts of Clay and Crawford counties.  It was named for a Revolutionary War hero, Sgt William Jasper of North Carolina.[i]  Jasper County, Illinois is situated in the southeasterly part of Illinois and has an area of 475 square miles.  The population in 1840 was 1,472 and had more than doubled by 1850 to 3,220.[ii] 

About 1848 Jeremiah Ferguson and his wife Harriett moved their family from Decatur, Indiana to Jasper County, Illinois.  In the 1850 federal census Jeremiah was listed as a farmer in Newton, Jasper County, Illinois with real estate valued at $1000.  In 1880 Jeremiah had moved to Willow Hill and owned 122 acres of which 38 were tilled and 44 were wetlands or forest.  His total farm value was $4000.00.  He also had $200 in livestock.  In 1879 Jeremiah realized about $200 from the sale of farm products.[iii] 
Now there are two families at the same place and time.  The Sempsrott family moved to Jasper County in the early 1860s and the Ferguson family that was there prior to 1850.  Jeremiah’s youngest son would marry Mary E Stewart and have a son John in 1875.  Frederich Sempsrott’s son Charles would marry Elmira Stiffle and they would have nine children.  Two of Charles Sempsrott’s daughters would marry into the Ferguson family.  Leila (b 1893) married David Ferguson’s son Roy (b 1900) and Naomi Sempsrott (b 1903) married David Ferguson’s grandson Murl Ferguson (b 1898 ).  Naomi and Murl would become the parents of Wanda Bernice Ferguson.
Ferguson Family
The pull of Willow Hill remained strong and there are still members of both families in the area even though later generations moved to cities like Chicago and Danville for work.  The Mound Cemetery has the names of many generations of the Fergusons and the Sempsrotts.    
Mound Church and Cemetery
Willow Hill, Jasper County
Burl Ives a famous son
of Willow Hill

[i] Wikipedia

[ii] Fanning's Illustrated Gazetteer of the United States p372

[iii] 1870 Federal Census Non-Population Schedule
Photo Credit: photo by Matt Hucke  Graveyards of Illinois


  1. Love the photo of the Ferguson family, Donna! A great family momento. And seeing Burl Ives' tombstone - oh my - how lovely! You're doing a great job on this writing challenge!

    1. Thanks Celia. This was my husbands family on his maternal side. I was lucky enough to have experienced Willow Hill and its environs several times.