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Vermilion County, Illinois


John and Sarah Eleanor “Ella” Evans Petry Family

Contributed by Suzanne Petry Jones  *my second cousin 

Ester Petry was a sister to John Newell Allen, my grandfather

            There were just the two of them that autumn day—a tall slim young man with a Mustache and his bride, a short, spirited young lady with a keen sense of humor. The Date was October 12, 1881. In the 35 years they were married, they would bring eight Sons into the world. Their names were John H. Petry Sr. And Sarah Eleanor Evans.

Thanks to the research of Eleanor Petry Thomas, we have the following facts about the family*:

             John H. Petry Sr. Was born on March 15, 1856 in Millersburg, Ohio, and died Sept. 20, 1916. His parents were John Petry (born in Germany in 1813) and Elizabeth Stuber Petry (born in Germany in 1816), who were married on April 16, 1839.

            Sarah Eleanor “Ella” Evans was born Aug. 28, 1855, in Gosport, IN to James And Amanda Hutton Evans. She died Dec. 31, 1942.

            The couple had eight sons, Walter, Herbert, Lloyd, Lawrence, John, George, Louis and Donald. All are buried in Hoopeston’s Floral Hill Cemetery.



            None of us actually remembers John Petry Sr., so we have to rely on written accounts About his life. His detailed obituary (note the lengthy sentences written in the style of the Times) in Hoopeston’s Daily Chronicle states:

          “John Petry, secretary and manager of the Hoopeston Grain & Coal Company, one of Hoopeston’s substantial business men, died yesterday morning on a C.&E.I. Train just this Side of Saint Anne, while on the way to the Hahnemann hospital in Chicago for an operation For a lesion or knot in the intestines, from which he had been suffering severely for about Forty hours. The body was brought to Hoopeston on the 3:07 train yesterday to be prepared For burial, which will not occur until the arrival of his son Lloyd, sergeant in Company B, From San Antonio to Austin, Texas.

         “At three o’clock Monday afternoon Mr. Petry was seized with a pain in his intestines, and attributed it to some peaches he had eaten a short time before. He was assisted to his home, 638 Honeywell Avenue, and a physician summoned. Not being able to bring relief, the physician advised an operation at a hospital, and accordingly the sick man was taken to the train Wednesday morning, accompanied by Mrs. Petry, his sons Walter and George and Dr. A. M. Earel. He began to sink after leaving Watseka and died just before the train

Reached St. Anne.

          “John Petry was born at Millersburg, Ohio, March 15, 1856, and was consequently a little past sixty years of age at the time of his death. He lived through boyhood in Ohio, and when a young man he came to Chillicothe, Illinois, where he was employed by Lott & Murphy in the grain business. He came with the firm to Hoopeston in the latter seventies and remained in the business, through its different changes in ownership until he and H. L. Bushnell organized the Hoopeston Grain & Coal Company more than thirty years ago, And he has been with it ever since. Mr. Bushnell died last March, and the business will now be run by their heirs.

          “Mr. Petry was united in marriage to Miss Ella E. Evans (sic) October 12, 1881. Eight sons were born to them, all of whom are living but one, Lawrence, who died a few years ago. They are Walter, Herbert, Lloyd, John, George, Lewis (sic) and Donald, all of whom live in Hoopeston but Herbert, who is engaged in the drug business in Chicago. Besides the wife and children there is one sister, Mrs. Robert McDowell of Ames, Iowa.

Mr. Petry was an excellent citizen and a good business man. He had an extended acquaintance with the farmers for many miles around Hoopeston, for he had done business with them for nearly forty years, and not one but who has a good word for him. He served the city as city clerk and city treasurer. He was honorable and upright in all his dealings and had the respect of everybody. He was essentially a home man, thinking more of his

Home and family than anything else on earth, and he will be long and sadly missed.”

          Family lore says that John Petry Sr. Died when the train gave a sudden lurch near St. Anne. Although that occurrence most likely was coincidental, it does add a bit of drama to his death. We can’t help but reflect on the shock and pain suffered by Grandma Petry, Walter and George as the train continued to move north. Other Daily Chronicle clippings State that “the body was carried to Momence where it was placed in charge of an undertaker.

          Following the death of the husband and father and the sad interruption of their journey

Mrs. Petry and sons returned to Hoopeston.”

          We know that John Petry Sr. was of German descent, that he had an eighth-grade

education, and that he appreciated good music and the theater. He raised roses as a hobby

and was honest and charitable to the poor.


Sarah Eleanor Evans was born Aug. 28, 1855, in Gosport, IN, to James and Amanda Hutton Evans. Her siblings were George Evans and Eva Evans Lyons, and she was of

English-Welsh descent.

          A widow for 26 years, she lived to see all 13 of her grandchildren and, sadly, outlived her four oldest sons. Her eight sons were born during an 18-year span. The first place she went after her last son, Don, was born was to the high-school graduation of her oldest son, Walter.

          She had an eighth-grade education and attended Illinois State Normal. An active lady who contributed to the society in which she lived, she served as president of the Mary Hartwell Catherwood Club, twice president of the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Univeralist Church and secretary of the history and literature department of the Woman’s Club. She died of a stroke on New Year’s Eve in 1942.

          Those who remember her have called her a wonderful cook and a lively person with a great sense of humor. She thoroughly enjoyed attending her club meetings and listening to her favorite soap operas and Cubs ball games on the radio.


The Eight Sons were:

1. Walter Evans Petry, born Dec. 2, 1882, and died April 1, 1936. Professional musician. Married Bess Harper.

2. Herbert Arthur Petry, born Jan. 21, 1885, and died April 1940. Druggist. Single.

3. Lloyd Philip Petry, born April 13, 1888, and died March 27, 1940. Clothing store proprietor, government distillery inspector. Married Beryl Wicks.

4. Lawrence Hutton Petry, born Oct. 14. 1889, and died on Aug. 6, 1909, just before his twentieth birthday. Single.

5. John Petry, born March 15, 1892, and died July 19, 1963. Jeweler and Post Master. Married Floy  Hickman.

6. George Emmett Petry, born July 19, 1894, and died Aug. 24, 1970. Cooperator, Hoopeston Grain & Coal Company. Married Lois Wicks.

7. Louis Victor Petry, born Aug. 8, 1897, and died June 9, 1977. Co-operator, Hoopeston Grain & Coal Company. Married Esther Allen.

8. Donald Richard Petry, born April 30, 1900, and died Jan. 2, 1971. Treasurer, Hoopeston Grain & Coal Company. Married Josephine Overton.




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