Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
In keeping with our policy of providing free information on the Internet, data and images may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or for other presentation without express permission by the contributor(s).

By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Ancestor of  Dan Dixon

Ancestor of Bob Drennan

WILLIAM DRENNAN - One of the oldest families of Sangamon county is the Drennan family, which was established here in the year in which the state was admitted to the Union. Representatives of the name have since been active in agricultural, commercial and professional life and the part which they have played in the upbuilding and improvement of central Illinois has been an important one so that the district owes to them a debt of gratitude for services rendered. William Drennan was born April 9, 1768, in the Pendleton district of South Carolina, and after arriving at years of maturity he was married in 1781 to Mary Thomas, whose birth occurred in the same state on the 13th of January, 1771. After the birth of six of their children they removed to Caldwell county, Kentucky, about 1813 and there six other children were added to their family. In the fall of 1817 they came to Illinois, locating first on Wood river about two miles from Alton. Their destination, however, was th e Sangamo country, but they spent the winter in Madison county and early in 1818 William Drennan and his half brother, Joseph Drennan, his son-in-law, Joseph Dodds, and George Cox left their families, near Alton. The men with teams, farming implements and provisions started for the San-ga-mo. They also brought with them all the young men and boys who were able to work and the party was piloted by a man named William Moore, who had belonged to a military company and had traversed this country in fighting the Indians. He was called an Indian ranger.

On the 10th of March, 1818, the party arrived on the spot where William Drennan built his cabin and when the government survey was made this proved to be section 32, town 14, range 5 west. It was on the northwest side of Sugar creek and about twelve miles south of Springfield. The party built two cabins and began the cultivation of the land as best they could. They found it impossible to break the sod, however, try as they might with the implements which they had. Fortunately one of the young men took a hoe and began to shave the grass off. This furnished the party with an idea which proved of great value as they treated the prairie land in this manner and raised that year an immense crop. Before harvest time, however, they lived literally in the land of milk and honey, for one of their chief articles of food was wild honey, and as they brought cows with them they had plenty of milk. The meat which they had was what they could shoot with their rifles and some of this they cured so as to have it ready at any time. When the stock of their provisions run out they would send one of their number back to the settlements, sixty or seventy miles away, for necessities which would be brought on the backs of horses. When the first crops were harvested the men who had families returned to them and the next spring brought their wives and children to their new homes. These early settlers endured many hardships, yet there were many pleasures and a spirit of friendliness existed which made their early pioneer homes noted for their hospitality.

William Drennan was one of the three commissioners who were appointed by the governor of Illinois to locate the county seat of Sangamon county, his associates being Zachariah Peters and Revere Cormack. They located the site by driving a stake into the ground and calling the place Springfield. In the work of reclaiming the wild land for the purposes of civilization and in carrying forward the labors which led to the substantial development of this portion of the state William Drennan took an active part. He was a sturdy pioneer well fitted to cope with the difficulties which surrounded him and as the years passed he established for his family a good frontier home. He died October 23, 1847, and his wife passed away October 2, 1856, both departing this life upon the farm which they had settled on in 1818. They reared a large family of children, of whom Mattie, the eldest, became the wife of Joseph Dodds. Samuel, the second one,died in Kentucky. William, born October 15, 1797, was married May 30, 1822, to Margaret Andersen and they had twelve children, including John T., who was born January 13, 1832, and who enlisted in Company 1, Seventy-third Illinois Infantry, for three years' service. He was wounded in the battle of Chickamauga September 20, 1863, and lay for five days on the battlefield before he received medical aid, his injuries permanently disabling him. Another son, William Drennan, the third, enlisted in Company F, Thirty-seventh Missouri Infantry, to aid in suppressing the slaveholders in that state and he and eighty others were ambushed and slaughtered near Centralia, Boone county, Missouri, September 27, 1864. Rachel, the next member of the family of William Drennan, became the wife of Alexander Richey. Thomas married Eveline Moffitt and they bad seven children. He died in 1848. Ezekiel N., born i n 1802 was married in 1825 to Mary Viney and had ten children. In 1859 he removed to Adair county, Missouri in 1872 while his wife passed away in 1871. Margaret Drennan became the wife of John Richey, by whom she had five children. They removed to Henry county, Iowa, where Mr. Richey died. John L. Drennan, the next member of the family, is mentioned in connection with this sketch of his son, Dr. David Drennan, on another page of this work. Elizabeth became the wife of Lewis Laughlin, of Henry county, Iowa, and they had five children. Mary Ann, born in 1811, was married in 1831 to Urbana Alexander, who was a son of Joshua C. Alexander, who settled in I820 in Richland creek. He was a member of the military company which was commanded by Abraham Lincoln during the Black Hawk war. Of his children John S., born in 1838, enlisted in 1861, as a member of Company K, Ninth Regiment of Texas Cavalry, under Brigadier General L. S. Ross of the, Southern Confederacy, and Thomas C., born in 1851, enlisted in Gurley's Texas Cavalry. which operated in Louisiana, &rkansas and the Indian Territory. Rebecca Drennan became the wife of George Latimer and after his death married William Allison. David, born July 3, 1816, married Nancy Wilson in 1833 and they also removed to Texas. None of the children of William Drennan, Sr., are now living, though all reached mature years.

Return to 1904 Biographies Index
Return to Sangamon County ILGenWeb