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John Berry Conant
&
Mary Elizabeth (Atkins) Conant

John Berry CONANT, born 17 Feb 1839, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois, son of Airs and Mary "Polly" (PEPPER) CONANT. He died 4:30 a.m., 28 Nov 1910, of Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Kinmundy Township, Marion County, Illinois. He was buried 29 Nov 1910, 2:00 p.m., Evergreen Cemetery, Kinmundy, Illinois.

John married Mary Elizabeth Atkins at her father's home on 11 Apr 1861, by Rev. Jesse DOOLEN. She was born 23 Mar 1845, Alabama, the daughter of John and Margaret "Peggy" (HAMILTON)(PICKENS) ATKINS. John ATKINS was the son of Bartlett and Mary (MORGAN) ATKINS. Bart was from Virginia. His mother was Martha "Patsy" (Whaley) ATKINS, the sister of the Widow Mary (WHALEY) JONES and the aunt of Mary (PEPPER) CONANT. Mary (MORGAN) ATKINS was the daughter of George and Mary "Polly" "Sally" (ARNOLD) MORGAN. George Morgan was a Revolutionary War Soldier. He had a plantation in Georgia and was a distiller of whiskey. He owned over 100 slaves. Mary Elizabeth died 25 Feb 1914, Kinmundy Township, Marion County, Illinois. She is buried next to John in the Conant family plot at Evergreen Cemetery, Kinmundy, Illinois.

John's first eight years were spent comfortably with his parents, then suddenly he lost them both within a week of each other. He then went to live with his older brother, William Rice Conant. But when John turned 14, he chose his own guardian, Mr. Mark COLE, who treated him very well, as if he was his own son.

John had his first piece of land, which was procured for him as a land warrant, with the help of Mark Cole. John lost the land because he was unable to make the payment of $100.00.

John received a good education from his father (who was a school teacher), until his father died. He then attended the area's public schools. He was said to have been very intelligent.

On 17 Jun 1870, the census shows John and Mary E. CONANT living in Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois. Lester Post Office. With them were children Fannie, Ayres, Polly, Margaret and Martha CONANT. John’s real estate was valued at $4,000.00, which was a lot at that time. His personal property valued at $800.00. He was listed as a farmer. He was living next to his nephew, George Airs and Catherine Catherine CONANT.

In the spring of 1875, John and Mary Elizabeth and John's sister, "Patsy" and seven children, Fannie, Airs, Polly, Margaret, Eli, Ida and Mae, all moved by train to Dennison, Texas. They were packed and ready to go when it rained very hard. The East Fork Creek overflowed its banks. They then had to stay three days at Uncle Jim SWIFT's house. (It is interesting to note that they still referred to Jim Swift as uncle, even though John's sister, Mary, was deceased and he was remarried. It shows that there was a closeness there.) When they first arrived in Texas, they stayed with Mary Elizabeth's parents, John and Margaret ATKINS, who had previously moved to Texas. John did not like Texas. He therefore moved his family back to Marion County, Illinois. They first stayed at Aunt "Sude" HOLT's (Susan Frances (ATKINS) HOLT, sister of Mary Elizabeth).

In 1875, John bought the Wes ROBB home and was settled in by autumn. They turned the home into quite a fine home. The home was inherited by John's daughter, Ida (CONANT) GRAY. It was owned by Harold B. JONES when it was torn down in the 1980's. It was a beautiful home in a beautiful setting. It was located on the very northeast corner of Section 8 in Kinmundy Township, on what is now called Virgil Road. To get to the location from Kinmundy, take Robb Road west until you get to Press Road, when goes right (north) after you cross over East Fork Creek. Take Press Road to Simmons Road (Press Road turns). Go right (north) on Simmons until you get to Virgil Road, which will be a right (east) turn. When you come to where there is a turn in the road, the farm was there, as the road went around the barns and house.

On 4 Jun 1880, the census shows John B. and Mary E. CONANT living in Kinmundy Township, Marion County, Illinois. With them were their children Airs, Fanny, Polly, Margaret, Eli, Ida and May CONANT. Also sister Martha A. CONANT Also with them was Frances M. EAGAN. The census said that both of John’s parents were born in Georgia. It said that both of Mary’s parents were born in Alabama.

Taken from "Brinkerhoff's History of Marion County, Illinois": "As the architect of his (John Berry Conant's) own fortunes he has builded wisely and well and the success that crown his efforts is well merited. He is broad-minded, liberal, progressive, public spirited and is well known and highly respected in the community which has been his home for so many years and where he has done so much faithful work, which has resulted in good not only to himself and family, but also to this neighbors and the community at large."

In 1889, John Berry CONANT was listed as the second richest man in Kinmundy Township. John began with nothing, but he put forth all of his energy and intelligence and managed to accumulate 700 acres of good and improved land in Marion County, Illinois. He had a store in Kinmundy, which sold farming implements and telephone lines. At that time each person built their own line and paid for the privilege of connecting to the mutual-owned switch boards. He was also a stock dealer from his farm.

By 1892, John owned 356.96 acres in Kinmundy Township. His home was in section 8, which included 140 acres. The rest breaks down as follows: Section 2, 80 acres; Section 4, 31.96 acres; Section 5, 80 acres; Section 9, 70 acres; and Section 11, 55 acres.

On 30 Jun 1900, the census has John and Mary CONANT living in Kinmundy Township. With them was their son Ira CONANT and daughter Martha CONANT. Only 8 of their 12 children were still living. The census said that Mary’s father was born in Alabama and that her mother was born in Tennessee. It said that John’s father was born in Georgia and his mother was born in Tennessee.

Politically, John was a member of the Democratic Party, of which he had been elected to be School Director and Road Overseer of Foster Township. John lived in Foster Township before he moved to Texas, but when he moved back, he bought property in Kinmundy Township.

At the age of 20, John became a member of the Methodist-Episcopal Church, the religion of his father, but he later changed his membership to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, remaining in that denomination until his death.

John was a very thin man, but very prominent looking in his later years with his white hair and beard. Mary was a heavy woman, taking up a whole buggy seat by herself. John was said to have been "a very friendly gentleman."

On 28 Nov 1910, John died, following ten months and five days of illness. He had been in the care of Dr. J. C. R. WITTSTEIN of St. Peter, Fayette County, Illinois.

On 8 Dec 1910, the Kinmundy Express has, “Obituary: John Berry CONANT, youngest son of Airs and Polly CONANT, was born in Marion county, Ill., Feb. 17, 1839 and died Nov. 28, 1910. He professed religion and united with the Methodist church in 1859, but later united with the Cumberland Presbyterian of which church he remained a member until death. He was united in marriage with Mary ATKINS, daughter of Uncle Johnnie and Aunt Peggy ATKINS, April 11, 1861. To this union was born 12 children: Fannie, Airs, Polly, Eli, Ida, May, Emmet, Rheufina, Ira, Martha, Hulda; four of whom have preceded the father to the better world, the others with the faithful wife and mother being left to mourn their loss. He had three sisters and four brothers, all of whom have preceded him to the grave. His father was one of the first settlers of this community and Mr. CONANT has resided near the old homestead all but about six months of his life.”

On 5 Mar 1914, the Kinmundy Express has, “Ira CONANT of Springfield was called here last Wednesday by the death of his mother, Mrs. John B. CONANT.”

On 26 Mar 1914, the Kinmundy Express has, “The eight heirs of Mrs. Mary CONANT, who died a few weeks ago, have set aside the will and settled the estate out of the courts. In the division Mrs. Frank REESE bought the old home place and Ira CONANT of Springfield got the place formerly occupied by Frank REESE.”

John and Mary had 12 children.

Children of John Berry and Mary Elizabeth (ATKINS) CONANT:

1. Fannie CONANT, born 1 May 1862, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois.
    Fannie married J. Isham Lansford, 1881.
    You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.
    or at the Kinmundy Yahoo Group in the files section.

2. Airs CONANT, born 21 Nov 1864, Foster Township.
    Airs married Maggie Door, 1894.
    You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.
    or at the Kinmundy Yahoo Group in the files section.
    You can find a web page of their grandson at: (John Conant).

3. Polly CONANT, born 17 Nov 1866, Foster Township.
    Polly married Noble H. Neeper, 1889.
    You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.
    or at the Kinmundy Yahoo Group in the files section.

4. Margaret Emma CONANT, born 11 Nov 1868, Foster Township.
    Margaret married Guy Neeper, 1889.
    You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.
    or at the Kinmundy Yahoo Group in the files section.

5. Eli CONANT, born 11 Oct 1870, Foster Township.
    Eli married Valinda Margaret Owens, 1892.
    You can find this family genealogy at the Eli Conant web page.

6. Ida CONANT, born 19 Jul 1872, Foster Township.
    Ida married James M. Gray, 1894.
    You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.
    or at the Kinmundy Yahoo Group in the files section.

7. Mae CONANT, born 21 Aug 1874, Foster Township. She died 26 Feb 1885, Kinmundy Township, Marion County, Illinois. Burial in Evergreen Cemetery in the Conant Plot.

8. Emmet CONANT, born 30 Oct 1876, Kinmundy Township, Marion County, Illinois. He died 28 Sep 1878, Kinmundy Township. Burial in Evergreen Cemetery in the Conant Plot.

9. Rhue CONANT, born 5 Oct 1880, Kinmundy Township. She died 30 Oct 1882, Kinmundy Township. She is buried in the Conant Plot in Evergreen Cemetery, Kinmundy, Illinois.

10. Ira Denton CONANT, born 13 Mar 1883, Kinmundy Township.
    Ira married Hattie Bell Harvey, 1906.
    You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.
    or at the Kinmundy Yahoo Group in the files section.

11. Martha Susan CONANT, born 11 Jul 1885, Kinmundy Township.
    Martha married Francis M. "Frank" Reese, 1906.
    You can find this family genealogy at the Conant Family Group in the files section.
    or at the Kinmundy Yahoo Group in the files section.

12. Huldah Boone CONANT, born 15 Mar 1888, Kinmundy Township. Hulda died 10 Aug 1896, Kinmundy Township. Burial in the John Berry Conant Family Plot in Evergreen Cemetery, Kinmundy, Illinois.





Our Conant Links


Airs and Mary "Polly" (Pepper) Conant


Eli and Valinda Melvin (OWENS) CONANT


George William and Grace (BASSETT) CONANT




Conant Family Heritage Group on Yahoo
Click here to join conantheritage
Click to join Conant Heritage




Sandy Branch, Foster Township, Marion County, Illinois

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Click to join Sandy Branch, Foster Township




Kinmundy, Kinmundy Township, Marion County, Illinois

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Click to join Kinmundy Township



Genealogical Sources


***United States Census Records1840, 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

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Compiled by:
(Great-Great-Grandson of John Berry and Mary Elizabeth (ATKINS) CONANT)

Stephen P.H. Frakes
321 South Franklin Street
Salem, Illinois 62881-2120
stephenfrakes@yahoo.com

Additions and Corrections Greatly Appreciated

Updated:
12 March 2017


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