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Eli and Valinda Melvin (Owens) Conant
of
Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois

Eli CONANT, born 11 Oct 1870, Marion County, Illinois, son of John Berry and Mary Elizabeth (ATKINS) CONANT. He died 14 Oct 1914, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois. He is buried next to his wife in Sandy Branch Cemetery, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois.

Eli married Valinda Melvin OWENS, 2 Jul 1892, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois, by Rev. W. N. GERARD. She was born 27 Feb 1873 (according to family bible in her own writing), the daughter of George William and Margaret Frances (ATKINS) OWENS. Margaret was the first cousin of Mary. Making Eli and Valinda second cousins. Margaret was the daughter of Nathan and Mary (GARRETT) ATKINS. Nathan was the son of Bartlett and Mary (MORGAN) ATKINS. Bartlett was the son of Martha "Patsy" (WHALEY) ATKINS, sister of Mary (WHALEY) JONES, the mother of the Foster Township Jones. Bartlett was the grandson of Bartlett ATKINS, a Revolutionary War Soldier from Virginia. Mary (GARRETT) ATKINS was the daughter of Moses "Squire" GARRETT, Esq. and Hannah (MORRIS) GARRETT. Moses was born in Georgia, the son of Thomas GARRETT. Hannah was the daughter of Thomas J. and Elizabeth "Betsy" (WHALEY) MORRIS. Elizabeth was the sister of Martha (WHALEY) ATKINS and Mary (WHALEY) JONES and Ester (WHALEY) PEPPER, who was the mother of Mary (PEPPER) CONANT.

Eli had the privilege of growing up in a well-to-do family, his father being quite prosperous.

In 1892, after their marriage, Eli and Valinda moved to Oklahoma Territory, having heard stories of the great west. (This was before Oklahoma was a state. It was still Indian Territory.) After living there for a few years and the birth of their first two children, their second child, Margaret Velma, was kidnapped by the Cherokee Indians. Valinda traded her jewelry for Velma and then they immediately returned to Illinois.

After returning to Illinois, Eli bought 220 acres of land on section 24 of Foster Township. The area was known as Sandy Branch. He bought the land from his brother, Ira Conant, who had a small home on the hill south of Sandy Branch Cemetery. The home consisted of two rooms. One be ing the bed room and the other the combined kitchen-dining-living room. Eli built a two story addition onto the house. The new addition consisted to two bedrooms on the second floor and on the first floor a parlor and two small bedrooms. He turned the old bedroom into a family room and divided the kitchen-dinning room into two separate rooms. He also bought 55 acres of land in Kinmundy Township, adjoining the other land in Foster Township. The land was mostly timber and pasture, with gentle rolling hills, in as beautiful of setting as one could find in the State of Illinois. He also built a very large barn and several out-buildings. (Note: This house was torn down in 2003. As of 2004, the barn remains.)

In 11 Jun 1900, the census shows Eli (28) and Valinda (28) CONANT living in Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois. With them were their children Ellen age 3; Nellie age 2; and Willa age 1; and Ervin age 5 months. (Note: Wherever they got this information, obviously not from Eli and Valinda. All the children's info is totally wrong.SF) Eli owned his farm free of morgage.

In 1906, Eli was elected School Trustee as a Democrat in Foster Township.

On 21 Apr 1910, the census shows Eli (39) and Valinda (38) CONANT living in Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois. Living with them were children Velma M. age 15; J. E. age 12; Nellie E. age 11; Ira M. age 9; and Geo. W. age 7. Eli owned his farm free of morgage.

In 1914, Eli was elected Highway Commissioner of Foster Township, but died shortly after the election, three days after his 44th birthday. With the help of her two youngest sons, "Bish" and "Willie", ages 14 and 12, Valinda was able to payoff all Eli's debts and therefore was able to keep her home and land. Bish and Willie had to quit school and go to work. They cut down a lot of trees, made them into railroad ties, hauled them by wagon to the village of Alma, about 10 miles away. Therefore the Conant land stayed in the family.

On 22 Oct 1914, the Kinmundy Express has, "Eli CONANT Passed Away: Eli CONANT, son of John B. and Mary B. CONANT, was born in Marion Co., Ill., Oct. 11, 1870, and departed this life at his home in Foster twp., Oct. 14, 1914, heart trouble being the cause. He was 44 years and 3 days of age. On July 2, 1892, he was united in marriage to Miss Valinda OWENS and to this union six children were born, three sons and three daughters: Mrs. Elma HARVEY, Mrs. Velma LAWRENCE, Mrs. Nellie ROBB, Elvin, Marvin and Willie CONANT, all living at or near the old home. He also leaves his loving companion, 2 grandchildren, 2 brothers and 5 sisters and a host of other relatives and friends. He was a good neighbor, a loving husband, a kind and affectionate father, well known by all as the greater part of his life had been spent in this community. The funeral services were held at his home six miles west of this city, on Friday morning at ten o’clock, conducted by Rev. J.W. WILLIS, interment in Sandy Branch cemetery."

On 30 Jan 1920, the census shows the widowed Valinda CONANT age 46, living in Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois. Living with her were her sons John Elvin age 22; Marvin Odell age 19; and George William age 17. Lists her as a farmer. She owned her farm free of morgage.

On 8 May 1930, the census shows Valinda CONANT age 57 living in Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois. Living with her was her son Elvin CONANT age 32. (Note: The census shows Elvin as head of the household, but the census is wrong. Valinda was head until she died. She wasn't the type to let her son be head over her. It was her other son, George William who took over the home place after her death. SF)

Valinda, known by her relatives and friends as "Vindy", was only two years old when her mother died. She then went to live with her grandparents, Nathan and Mary (GARRETT) ATKINS. Her father remarried. She had two full brothers, William Elvin OWENS and Marvin OWENS, but Marvin died shortly after birth. William Elvin married Lucy A. HAYDEN and had five children: Valinda Elizabeth, George Wesley, Daisy Florence, Richard Cecil and Hannah Catherine. She also had a half-sister, Effa May “Effie” OWENS, who married Joseph FIELDS, and a half-brother, Abe OWENS. Abe married Elizabeth Boone GRAY, Eli's first cousin.

With the help of her two youngest sons, "Bish" and "Willie," ages 14 and 12, Valinda was able to pay off all of Eli?s debts and therefore was able to keep her home and land. Bish and Willie had to quit school and go to work. They cut down a lot of trees, made them into railroad ties and then hauled them by wagon to the Village of Alma, about 10 miles away. By doing this, they were able to keep the Conant Family home and land.

Valinda, known by her relatives and friends as "Vindy," was only two years old when her mother died. She then went to live with her grandparents, Nathan and Mary (Garrett) Atkins. Her father remarried. She had two full brothers, William Elvin Owens and Marvin Owens. Marvin died shortly after birth. William Elvin married Lucy A. Hayden and had five children: Valinda Elizabeth Owens, George Wesley Owens, Daisy Florence Owens, Richard Cecil Owens and Hannah Catherine Owens. She also had a half-sister, Effa M. Owens and a half-brother, Abe Owens. Abe married Elizabeth Boone Gray, Eli's first cousin.

Vindy was also known as a healer (some say a witch, but not black magic), using herbs, etc. She was also psychic. She would have visions. When her daughter Velma died, she saw six flames on the fence rail next to the house with the second flame suddenly going out. She knew exactly what it meant. It wasn?t too long after that that someone drove up to the house. She said, "I know, you don?t have to tell me. Velma is dead." She was also said to have magical powers.


Left to Right: Marvin, Elvin and Willie Conant.

After the death of Eli, Vindy lived out the remaining years of her life on the home place in Sandy Branch. She was a very particular person. She had to have the best of everything, especially in clothing for herself and her children. She was not liked by her daughters-in-law or her sons-in-law, as she was a very difficult person, but she was greatly loved by her children.

Vindy became ill about fifteen weeks before her death. Her children, Willie, Nellie and Bish, along with their spouses, Grace, Mack and Lovell, had to take turns staying with her until she died. She could not be left alone. She died at the age of 65, outliving Eli almost fourteen years.

They had six children.

Children of Eli and Valinda Margaret (Owens) Conant:

1. Mary Elma Conant, born 10 July 1893, Oklahoma Territory (Indian Territory).
    Elma married Elsworth Harvey 13 Jan 1909. They had four children: William Cecil Harvey, Orval Melvin Harvey, William Eli "Billy" Harvey and Winnefred Harvey.(You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.)

2. Margaret Velma "Velmie" Conant, born 2 Aug 1894, Oklahoma Territory (Indian Territory).
    Velma married 1st Homer E. Lawrence.
    Velma married 2nd James Moadinger.
    Velma married 3rd Julius "Pike" Farney.
    (See #2 following)

3. John Elvin "Peck" Conant, born 15 Jul 1897, Marion County, Illinois.
    Peck married Carrie Organ. They had five children: Elma May (Conant) Walker, Mack Odell Conant, Valinda Martha (Conant) Pratt, Nellie Florence (Conant) Fisher and Fleta Louis (Conant) Lybarger. (You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.)

4. Nellie May Conant, born 22 Aug 1898, Marion County, Illinois.
    Nellie married Samuel McKendra "Mack" Robb 13 Sep 1914. They had one son: Eli Kenneth Robb. (You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.)

5. Ira Marvin "Bish" Conant, born 11 Nov 1900, Marion County, Illinois.
    Bish married Lovell Naomi Green 18 Nov 1922. They had three children: Velma Jean (Conant) Robb, Samuel Eli Conant and Rosemary Conant. (You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.)

6. George William "Willie" "Bill" Conant, born 18 Apr 1902, Marion County, Illinois.
    Bill married Grace BASSETT. ( See George William and Grace (BASSETT) CONANT )

The Eli Conant Family, left to right: Valinda M. (Owens) Conant, John Elvin Conant, Nellie May Conant, George William Conant -in front, Mary Elma Conant, Margaret Velma Conant, Eli Conant and Ira Marvin Conant. The photo was taken at their home in Sandy Branch, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois.


    Front, left to right: Margaret Velma Conant, Valinda Melvin (Owens) Conant, Mary Elma Conant.
    Back, left to right: John Elvin "Peck" Conant, Ira Marvin Odell "Bish" Conant and George William "Bill" Conant.



#2
Margaret Velma Conant
Lawrence Moadinger Farney

of
Elgin, Kane County, Illinois

Margaret Velma CONANT, born 2 Aug 1894, Oklahoma City, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), daughter of Eli and Valinda Melvin (OWENS) CONANT (See Chapter 10). Velma died 7 Jan 1935, Roselle, DuPage County, Illinois (Death Certificate #1031). Burial 10 Jan 1935, Sandy Branch Cemetery, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois, with Velma CONANT on her grave stone.
    Velma married 1st Homer Ellis LAWRENCE Tuesday, 2 Aug 1910, Salem, Marion County, Illinois. Homer was born 4 Sep 1879, Missouri. His family lived in Elgin, Illinois, which is where they moved after the marriage, moving in with his parents. They divorced.
    Velma married 2nd James Henry MOADINGER, born 30 Jul 1896. James died 31 May 1989. Last place of residence was Walnut, Bureau County, Illinois. They divorced.
    Velma married 3rd Julius E. "Pike" FARNEY. He was born 4 Jul 1893, Elgin, Kane County, Illinois, son of Aaron and Jennie FARNEY. Julius died 7 Jan 1935, Roselle, DuPage County, Illinois (Death Certificate #1030). He shot and killed himself after killing Velma. (Julius' father, Aaron was from New York. He was a grocer, owned his own store.) Julius had a daughter from a previous marriage. Her name was Jennelle FARNEY.
    On 5 Jun 1917, Pike's World War 1 Draft Registration Card has, Julius FARNEY age 24, born 4 Jul 1893, Elgin, Kane County, Illinois. He was living at 273 Hill Street, Elgin, Kane County, Illinois. He was listed as married with a child. He was listed as being employed as a truck driver and that his employer was A. FARNEY. He had blue eyes and light brown hair, partly balding. (Note: Julius' wife was Alta. They had a daughter Jennette. Julius also had a brother named Edward FARNEY.)
    On 10 Jun 1918, James' World War 1 Draft Registration Card has, James Henry MOADINGER born 30 Jul 1897. He was living with his father at 51 Orchard, Walden, Orange County, New York. William MOADINGER was his nearest relative. His father was born in New York. His father signed the card, W. H. MOADINGER. James was tall with medium build. He had gray eyes with light brown hair.
    On 12 Sep 1918, Homer's World War 1 Draft Registration Card has, Homer Ellis LAWRENCE age 38, born 4 Dec 1879. He was living Alma, Marion County, Illinois. He was employed as Supt. with Midwest Product Company, out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His nearest relative was Velma LAWRENCE. He was medium height and build with blue eyes. (Note: Could not make out the color of hair.)
    Velma's life story reads like a book. It started in the Territory of Oklahoma. (Oklahoma did not become a state until 1907. Up till then it was Indian Territory.) When she was a toddler, she was taken by some Cherokee Indians. Her mother managed to get her back by trading her jewelry for Velma's return. The family then moved back to Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois, where she was able to grow up among her relatives.
    At the tender age of 16, on her birthday, she was married to a much older man. This was the first of three bad marriages. The last one to end in tragedy.
    On 17 Jan 1920, the census shows Homer E. (40) and Margarett (25) LAWRENCE living in Alma, Marion County, Illinois. He was said to have been born in Missouri and his parents in Missouri. Margarett was said to have been born in Oklahoma and her parents in Illinois. He was a supervisor for midwest products. They owned their home free of mortgage.
    On 7 Apr 1930, the census shows the divorced Julius FARNEY age 36, living at 301 Hill Street, Elgin, Kane County, Illinois. He was said to have been born in Illinois, his father in New York and mother in Germany. He wa a butcher in a retail market. He was not a veteran. He was living with his parents, Aaron (67) and Jennie (61) FARNEY.
    On 11 Apr 1930, the census shows Velma M. MOADINGER age 37 living at 366 Seneca, Elgin, Kane County, Illinois. She was said to have been born in Oklahoma. She was listed as married. She was said to have been 16 the first time she married. She was propiertor of a meat market. (Note: ancestry.com has her last name listed as MOODNIGER.)
    Velma owned and operated her own store, which was quite unusual for a woman at that time. She was quite prominent in Elgin.
    On 7 Jan 1935, Velma was talking to a friend on the telephone when she heard her husband, Pike, at the door. She told her friend that he was home and she might as well go face him in his drunken state and get it over with, so she told her friend good bye, not knowing it was her last. She went to check on Pike and in his drunken state he shot and killed her. A tragic end of a life of a woman who was known for her friendliness and charm. Evidently, she had plans to divorce Pike and go back to her second husband. Her husband and ex-husband worked in her store.
    On 10 Jan 1935, the Kinmundy Express has, "The body of Mrs. Julius VARNEY, formerly Miss Velma CONANT of the Sandy Branch Community, was brought here yesterday on the I.C. Train No. 1. The body was taken to the Linton & Beery Undertaking Establishment where it was viewed by many friends, before being taken to the home of her mother, Mrs. Valinda CONANT, west of this city. Services will be held from the CONANT home and interment made in Sandy Branch Cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. VARNEY were proprietors of a high class meat market in Elgin, Illinois. On Monday, for some unknown reason, Mr. VARNEY shot and killed his wife and then killed himself. News of the catastrophe did not reach here until Tuesday. Mr. B. F. LINTON, in company with 2 of Mrs. VARNEY’s brothers, Marvin and William, set out Tuesday for Elgin to bring the body back. Mr. and Mrs. Ellsworth HARVEY had been notified Tuesday morning and immediately left their home in Ridgefarm for Elgin and were there when the boys arrived."
    On 17 Jan 1935, the Kinmundy Express has, "Margaret Velma, daughter of Eli and Valinda CONANT, was born Aug. 2, 1894, in Oklahoma and died in Roselle, Illinois on Jan. 7, 1935. When a tiny babe, she came with her parents to Illinois and they settled on a farm west of Kinmundy, near the present home of her mother. On Aug. 2, 1910, she was united in marriage to H. E. LAWRENCE and in later years was again married to James MOODINGER and again to Julius VARNEY. On Oct. 14, 1914, her father died. She leaves her mother, Mrs. Valinda CONANT, 2 sisters and 3 brothers, namely, Elma HARVEY of Ridgefarm, Ill., Nelle ROBB, Marvin, Elvin and William, of near Kinmundy, and 18 nephews and nieces. Services were held at the home of Mrs. Valinda CONANT with interment in Sandy Branch Cemetery."
    In 1942, James H. MOADINGER age 46, born 30 Jul 1896, Walden, Orange County, New York. He was living at 612 Bluff City Blvd, Elgin, Kane County, Illinois. He was self-employed at 813 South Charles Street, Elgin, Illinois. Easter MOADINGER was given as his nearest relative.
    Her sister-in-law, Grace (BASSETT) CONANT said she was proud to be her sister-in-law, that she was one of the nicest persons she ever knew and that she was more like a sister than a sister-in-law.
    Velma never had any children.


Velma (Conant)(Moadinger) Farney on the left in her store-meat market.





Our Conant Links


Airs and Mary "Polly" (Pepper) Conant


John Berry and Mary "Polly" (PEPPER) CONANT


George William and Grace (BASSETT) CONANT




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Sandy Branch, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois

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Kinmundy, Kinmundy Township, Marion County, Illinois

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Genealogical Sources


***United States Census Records 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
(Note: All census records are transcribed as is, including mispellings and wrong dates, etc., as to be accurate to the record.)
***United States Social Security Records
***Birth Records of Illinois
***Marriage Records of Illinois
***Death Records of Illinois
***Land Records of Illinois
***United States Military Records
***Letters
***Information from backs of photos
***Brinkerhoff's History of Marion County, Illinois

*********************




Compiled by:
(Great-Grandson of Eli and Valinda Melvin (OWENS) CONANT)

Stephen P.H. Frakes
321 South Franklin Street
Salem, Illinois 62881-2120


Updated:
9 October 2016


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