Biography of Perry Stancliff of Wyoming Illinois

One of the first settlers of the town of Wyoming, Stark County, IL was Perry Stancliff who in 1844, five years after Stark County was formed in 1839, moved to Illinois and purchased the land one mile south of the Village of Wyoming, Stark County, Illinois, upon which he developed “Sunnyside Farm”. The house built by Perry stood in 1995 on the outskirts of Wyoming.

On Aug. 17, 1848, Perry Stancliff and Martha Caroline Davis daughter of Daniel and Rachael [Ennis] Davis were married. Daniel Davis is one of the Pioneers listed in the Stark County “Old Settlers Association” and is said to have arrived in Stark County in 1832.

Perry was active in community affairs in addition to being a devoted father, farmer, and stone mason. He served on the school board for many years and according to his son, Lewis Albert Stancliff, built the first schoolhouse in Wyoming and the first school building in Peoria. He built the first cellar wall in the City of Peoria and piers for a wagon bridge over the Illinois river there. He was told that it was impossible to build piers which would stand, but according to son Lewis Albert, the bridge was still in use “the last time I knew of it”.

He became well known for his expertise in Horticulture. He planted and maintained a large fruit orchard upon his farm. In addition to the trees, Perry also raised stock and kept bees. To process the apples that he grew, he built a cider mill for his own use and that of his neighbors. It was said that he did not want for help operating that mill, the local youths volunteered in numbers when it became known that wages included “all you can drink” of the sweet cider.

Perry helped General Thomas lay out Thomas Park in Wyoming, and he planted the native trees that stand there today. He also selected and set out the “Garfield Oak” which was planted in the Wyoming Cemetery to commemorate the death of President James A. Garfield. It was standing in 1993.

According to a letter written by Perry’s son, Lewis Albert Stancliff, and published in the Wyoming Post Herald August 19, 1936 and reprinted in the Wyoming Post Herald Centennial Edition, 1986, the last Indian raid that occurred in Stark County, IL took place over ten years after the Black Hawk wars had ceased. An Indian raiding or hunting party was traveling by boat down the Spoon River, which the Indians called “Feather River”, and on this occasion the Indians disembarked near Modena, Stark County, IL and killed a settler and his red haired wife. The Indians again moved down river, but the news of the attack reached Wyoming first and the settlers were ready. The settlers determined that the Indians would probably come ashore again at the bend of the river where General Samuel Thomas had a cabin located near the bank of the river. A number of the men of Wyoming armed themselves and waited in the cabin. When the Indians came ashore and surrounded the cabin, the chief was wearing the apron he had taken from the body of the murdered woman and her easily identified scalp of red hair hung from his belt. Perry Stancliff “had an old army rifle, muzzle loader, loaded with a greased lead bullet. He placed it to the keyhole in the door, which was a large one using a key twice the size of the ones of today, took good aim and killed the chief. That broke up the raid and the Indians never returned after that.”

Perry and Martha’s ten sons and daughters married in the Wyoming area. Spouses from the Wyoming area included Sarah Standeven, Emeline Argenbright, Martha Jordan, Hannah Mae Standeven, Esther Standeven, Alfred Neely, Mathew Duffy, and Frederick Alvin Ingram.

Information about this family can be found at: Stancliff Home Page

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