William Henry Judy, an enterprising grain merchant of Coatsburg, was born in Gilmer township, October 8, 1847. His father, William Judy, was a native of Kentucky, living in Gallatin county until almost twenty-five years of age, when he came to Illinois and settled in Gilmer township, Adams county, where he carried on general farming and stock raising, being one of the pioneer residents of this part of the state, and aiding largely in early agricultural development.
As he entered the land from the government not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made upon the place, but he soon broke the soil, planted the seed, and in course of time harvested good crops. He was soon recognized as one of the leading farmers of his community, worthy of all respect.
He had two brothers who came to Adams county in 1835, P. G. and P. S. Judy. They, too, accumulated large tracts of land and became representative agriculturists of this part of the state. William Judy is one to whom the county owes a debt of gratitude for what he did in promoting the pioneer development, for he aided in laying broad and deep the foundation for the present prosperity and progress of this part of the state.
He married Miss Mary A. Lawless, who was born in Grant county, Kentucky, in 1823, and came to Illinois with her parents in a wagon drawn by oxen, the family settling in Gilmer township. She became the wife of Mr. Judy in July 1845, and two years later his death occurred. Mrs. Judy is still living and she can relate many interesting incidents of the pioneer days. When the family came to Adams county, the journey across the Ohio river was made in a flatboat, Mrs. Judy being at that time twelve years of age. The only hotel in Quincy was then a log building under the hill. When her father planned to build a house he had to put up a pole in order to mark the site for there were no landmarks of any kind around. The little building was constructed of logs, had a puncheon floor and clapboard door and roof. The cracks between the logs were filled with mud and there was no plaster.
It was necessary to go to Quincy for the mail and the now beautiful city was then a mere hamlet. There was no paper published there and few business enterprises had been established. Following their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Judy located on a farm, and after her husband’s death she returned with her little son, William Henry Judy, to her father’s home. She is still living at the advanced age of eighty-two years.
William Henry Judy attended the district schools in his early boyhood and continued his studies in the public schools and high school of Quincy. Following the completion of his education he returned home and began teaching in the public schools of the county, entering upon the work at the age of sixteen years. During the summer months he worked upon the home farm and employed a man to aid in the farm work throughout the remainder of the year. He continued teaching in connection with his agricultural interests until thirty-nine years of age, when he went to Kansas for his health. While there he formed the acquaintance of Effa May Lillie and they were married. They returned to Illinois, settling in Honey Creek township. They lived upon the home farm until 1901, and then established their home in Coatsburg, where he engaged in the hay and grain business, meeting with excellent success in this undertaking. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Judy were born four children: Ethel M., Inez K., William Blaine and Albert S.
Mr. Judy was prominent in republican circles and served on the central committee. He acted as school director and filled other local offices and could have had any office within the gift of his fellow townsmen, but his ambitions were not in the direction of political preferment. The cause of education found in him a warm friend and he was an advocate of anything that tended to promote the moral development of his community. At one time he owned one hundred and twenty acres of land northwest of Coatsburg, but sold that place on his removal to the village. He had a wide acquaintance in the county where almost his entire life was spent and where he had so lived and directed his efforts that he retained the friendship and regard of those with whom he was associated from his boyhood days. Mr. Judy died Jan. 16, 1905, his remains being interred at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Gilmer township.
Source: Past and present of the city of Quincy and Adams County, Illinois, p. 542; by William H. Collins, Cicero F. Perry, joint author; John Tillson. History of the city of Quincy, Illinois. [from old catalog]. Chicago, S. J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1905.