Purnell Stout Outten

The eldest son of Thomas and Mary Outten was named Purnell Stout. The name “Purnell” has been a favorite name down through the years in every branch of the Outten family. Perhaps this was because the two families were intimately associated and intermarried in the early days of our history. They may have crossed the Atlantic Ocean together. The name “Outten” has been used as a Christian name by many of our allied families, viz; Outten Sturgis, Outten Laws, Outten Spicer, Purnell Outten Wilson and Wm. Outten Skillman. The middle name “Stout” was his mother’s maiden name.

Purnell S. Outten was born midway between Georgetown and Lexington, Ky. Aug 17, 1809. Not much is known of his childhood or education but he grew to maturity on the home farm. His mother died when he was about nineteen years of age and an Aunt Polly Dykes managed the household until his father’s death in 1835.

In the Fayette County Deed Book 9, page 4, April 4, 1833, Thomas Outten assigned to Purnell S. Outten for the consideration of five shillings all the estate, personal and mixed, viz; negroes, namely: Rachel, Lucy, Allen, John Robert, Pummoe and Winnie, 8 head of horses, 15 head of cattle, 4 tons of hemp, 80 barrels of corn, 4 stacks of rye, 3000 lb. of bacon, 75 head of sheep, 27 head of hogs, clock, four beds and furniture and all my farm utensils to Pernell S. Outen and his heirs forever.

Rene Outten Swink of Cincinnati is in possession of the record of a transaction whereby P. S. Outten sold to Mathias Outten, her grandfather, 41 acres (1 road and 34 1/2 poles) for the sum of $2973.19 dated Sept. 2, 1836. The land was located in Fayette Co., Ky. on the waters of Cane Run.

In March and May, 1836 P. S. Outten patented 447 acres of land in Mt. Zion twp., Macon County, Ill. He did not remain long in Mt. Zion but continued on to Virginia in Cass County, where members of the Stout family had settled and here he, his brother Luther, and sister Sarah, married and established homes.

The mine Run, Orange County, Virginia Rachel Keeling married Col. Thos. Rowe in 1774. Col. Rowe was born in Gloucester Co., Va. and served in the Revolutionary War 1776-78 in Capt. Sam’l Colston’s Company, Col, Joseph Parker’s 5th Va. Reg. Orange County Militia. Thomas and Rachel (Keeling) Rowe were the parents of Rachel Rowe who married Wm. Stribling Berry in 1807. Wm. Berry was the son of Antony Berry, who moved from Stafford County, Va. to Orange County about 1810. Wm. and Rachel Berry were the parents of eight children viz; William, James, Thomas, Keeling, Frances, Rachel, Benjamin, and Mildred. Wm. Berry was a short, smooth-faced man, severe and stubborn in disposition. He wore knee breeches all of his life but would permit his daughters to dress only in the plainest of fashion.

William, the eldest son, received an appointment to West Point but died before entering. James and Thomas came first to Illinois settling in Cass County. Thomas returned to Virginia in the fall of 1833 and piloted the family to Illinois. They were camped in Kentucky at the time of the famous meteoric shower in November of that year. This surely did not frighten them as much as it did some people as they let their ten year old son, Benjamin, sleep through it. The others were preparing breakfast by the campfire when the stars began to fall. The family patented land south of Virginia and here, on Sept. 14, 1837, Rachel R. Berry (born Feb. 16, 1815) was married to Purnell S. Outten. They lived on a farm near Virginia. The brick house occupied by the family is still standing. To this union the following children were born, viz; Mary, Rachel Keeling, Wm. Carrol, and Sarah Francis.

I. Mary Outten was born Dec. 11, 1838. She married R. D. Wilson April 12, 1855. A full account of this family is given in chapter two of the Wilson history. Line of Prudence Wilson Scott.

II. Rachel Keeling was born Jan. 30, 1841. Judging from a daguerreotype we have in our possession, she was a very lovely girl and was said to have been “born with a silver spoon in her mouth”. She married Ninian Gregory Jan. 30, 1861. They lived on a farm near Hervey City. Their infant son, Samuel Purnell died Sept. 4, 1863 aged twenty-two months and Rachel died just two days later at the age of twenty-two years. Both are buried at Mt. Gilead Cemetery.

III. Wm. Carrol was born July 23, 1843 and married Sarah Farrell Sept. 25, 1865. They were the parents of three children; Anna Mary, Carrol Francis and Henrietta, all of whom died in infancy.

Wm. Outten was educated in the common schools of Virginia and Mt. Zion and attended the Mt. Zion Academy, later assisting Dr. Wallace there. He graduated from the law school of the U. of Michigan in 1875, returning to Decatur to become a partner of Nelson and Roby, under the firm name of Nelson, Roby and Outten. When Nelson was elected to the bench they continued as Boby and Outten. Later it became Roby, Outten and Vail. At one time Henry Page husband of Anna Farrell Page, was his partner. At the time of his death he was a member of the firm of Outten, Ewing, McCullough and Wierman.

In a series of articles on early members of the Decatur bar, Judge M. R. Davidson writes “Wm. Outten occupied a unique place among the bar members. He was never seen as an active participant in any big criminal case, yet he was one of the busiest lawyers at the bar. When he died, a thousand Macon County people felt a sense of personal loss. He was a sage and sane adviser, a keen, level-headed and fair-minded lawyer to whom men liked to take their business affairs, their deeds, their wells, their estates. Also he was more than that. He was an exemplary citizen, a courteous gentleman, a man who stood high in the counsels of civic, church and educational affairs. He was a member of the Methodist church and politically a Democrat. The statement “all who knew him loved him is an epitome of the life of Outten”. He died Dec. 25, 1914 and is buried in Mt. Gilead Cemetery by the side of his wife, children and two sisters, Rachel and Sarah. Sarah Farrell Outten died in 1901.

IV. Sarah Frances was born Nov. 14, 1845. She married Christopher Skillman Nov. 11, 1862. Mr. Skillman operated the first store and post office in Mt. Zion under the name of Skillman and Mays. One son Wm. Francis was born in 1863, the mother dying April 10, 1864, at the age of eighteen years, when her infant son was five months old.

Wm. Francis Skillman was reared in Texas, returning to Mt. Zion when became of age. His grandfather then gave him 130 acres of land in Mt. Zion Twp. and sent him to Illinois College at Jacksonville. He returned to Sulphur Spring, Texas where he married Alice Sheppard in 1898. She was a sister of the late Sen. Morris Sheppard of Texas. The family later moved to Dallas where W. F. Skillman was president of the First National Bank. He died in Dallas in 1936. They were the parents of five children, namely;

1. Wm. Outten born Oct. 22, 1900. He was a banker and died unmarried March 19, 1943.

2. Margaret Sheppard, born march 28, 1903. Married E. Y. Holt. They have two children.1955 address – 4132 St. Charles Ave, New Orleans La Ap

a. E. Y. Holt, Jr. born Feb. 1, 1926

b. Margaret Skillman Holt, born Mar. 28, 1931 m-1955

3. Mary Frances, born Nov. 15, 1907. Married J. Wylie Harris.

a. Francis Skillman Harris, born Oct. 5, 1941

4. Olga Bernice, born Sept. 20, 1910. MarriedE. H. Banta, who died in 1941.

5. Alice Virginia, born Dec. 1, 1912. Alice, Olga and their mother live at 8 Willow Wood, Highland Park, Dallas, Texas.
Alice m- Thos. Weld Finney May 12, 1951 – Lives with Olga at above address 19

Rachel Berry Outten, first wife of P. S. Outten died Nov. 6, 1846. She is buried in the old Berry farm south of Virginia in the family plot. An acre embracing the burying ground was willed to Mildred Berry, youngest daughter of Wm. and Rachel Berry. At her death it passed to all her heirs, among whom we are numbered. There are six successive generations of Rachels in our family, viz; Rachel Keeling, Rachel Rowe, Rachel R. Berry, Rachel Keeling Outten, Sarah Rachel Julia Wilson and Rachel Marie Wilson. The last mentioned was given the name at our annual Thanksgiving Dinner in 1908, following her birth the previous September.

On Feb. 3, 1848 Purnell Outten married Mary J. Ross (born July 25, 1811). They had one son, George Thomas, who was born June 4, 1849. George Thos. married Margaret Lucinda Bell, daughter of A. W. Bell of Mr. Zion Nov. 9, 1781. Their children were:

1. George Carrol, born Jan. 11, 1873. Died Sept 23, 1933. He married Ethel Myers, April 4, 1904. They have an adopted daughter Carrol Annabelle, born June 11, 1918. Mrs. Outten and Annabelle live in the Commodore Apts., Decatur, Ill. G. C. Outten was a grain buyer at Hervey City, Prairie Hall and High Station and was supervisor of Mt. Zion Twp. for years.

Ethel Outten lives 1955 – 251 N. Church St. Decatur, Ill.

2. Cora Thomas, born Jan. 22, 1876. Died Dec. 22, 1942. She married Arthur Kessler of Auburn, Ill, on Aug. 30, 1899. (at Mt. Zion)

a. Margaret Marie, born July 17, 1803 married J. R. Marshal Aug. 30, 1930.

George Thomas Outten died May 22, 1884 and Margaret Outten died Nov. 22, 1917. Both are buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetary.

In Virginia and Kentucky the family keep the French pronunciation of the Oot-en, while the Delaware, Maryland, and Illinois branches have Anglicized it, calling themselves Out-tens. P. S. Outten changed from the French to English pronunciation when he moved to Illinois.

The town of Virginia, Ill. was laid out in May, 1836 by a Dr. Hall, who deeded lot 64 to the Protestant Methodist Church, who built there. The early members comprised the Freemans, the Coxes, the Beadles, the Outtens and others. (Historical Sketches by J. N. Gridley and others Vol. 1, page 263)

Purnell Outten was reared in the Methodist faith and was affiliated with various churches of this denomination. There was an early Methodist Church at Mr. Gilard and some of the family are buried in the cemetery there. This is located on the true Lincoln Trail south of Decatur. At one time there was no Methodist Church in Mr. Zion and on Sept. 20, 1866 church records show that he joined the Cumberland Presbyterian there. In 1874 the Sulphur Springs Church moved to Mt. Zion and both P. S. and Geo. T. Outten families were active members of this congregation. Politically the Outten family were members of the Democratic party.


Written by Rev. John Perry Outten converted to Hypertext by Karen Stephens