The 1878 Illinois Farmers’ Directory

Those of us with rural American ancestors don’t find directories with any regularity. While cities and urban areas generally had annual directories by the mid of the 19th century, rural area had sporadic directories–if they had them at all. Researchers with farming ancestors in the United States expect to find periodic plat books. Directories are not always as high on our list of priorities–with the exception of the farmers’ directories published by the Prairie Farmer magazine in the 1910-1922 era.

So I was a little surprised to find this gem, an 1878 directory of Illinois farmers in the “U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989” at

This clipping from page 60 contains a reference to J. Upkes [Ufkes], my ancestor and R. Hubben [Habben] my uncle. The names are spelled somewhat creatively,  “Halsclaw” probably refers to Holtsclaw, Garelt to Garrelts, and Monmier to Monnier. There’s not much here about the individuals listed other than their name and town/village of residence. But it could be a clue.


However the directory does not include other relatives who were also farming in Hancock County in 1878:

  • John, George, and Theodore Trautvetter
  • James, James, Riley, John, and Thomas Rampley
  • Andrew Newman
  • “family of Mimke Habben”–Mimke died in 1877, but the farm was under family control at that time. There are actually a handful of women named in the reference.

George and Theodore Trautvetter farmed in Rocky Run Township and John Trautvetter and the Rampleys farmed in Walker Township which is adjacent to Rocky Run. Given that these townships are in the southern part of Hancock County, it’s possible that they were included with entries from Adams County. Newman and the Habbens were in Prairie Township, which given its central location within the county would not seem to have the same problem.

The potential that the Habbens were overlooked because they were new immigrants doesn’t hold any water. Ufkes and R. Habben were just as recent arrivals as the Habben family and they are included in the directory. In fact, there are several other Ostfriesian surnames that appear in the Basco section.

And it could also be that the directory simply isn’t complete.



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