Wren, Aquilla

Born: 1797

Died: 1844-08-16 Peoria, Illinois

Wren and his wife Clarissa (Jones) Wren moved from Ohio to Springfield, Illinois, in 1829. After living for a year in Springfield, they moved to Peoria, where Wren became a prominent entrepreneur and a justice of the peace. He purchased 209 acres of land in Peoria County and additional land in neighboring Tazewell County. He operated a mill in Tazewell County, was a partner in a dry goods store in Peoria, and owned a ferry across the Illinois River at Peoria for a time. He served in the Black Hawk War as a sergeant in Captain Abner Eads's company. After the war, Wren served as a county commissioner from 1832 to 1836. He also served as a trustee of the town of Peoria. In 1840, he was still in the county with five people in his household. In 1843, Wren sued his wife for divorce, and Abraham Lincoln was one of the attorneys who represented her. The court granted a divorce in June 1844, just two months before Wren's death, but the legal contest over her property rights continued beyond his death and to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Peoria County Death Records 1837-1863 (Peoria, IL: Mrs. Frank J. Sherman, 1945), 10; Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, ed. by David McCulloch (Chicago: Munsell, 1902), 2:67-68, 203; The History of Peoria County, Illinois (Chicago: Johnson, 1880), 639; U.S. Census Office, Sixth Census of the United States (1840), Peoria County, IL, 26; Ellen M. Whitney, comp., The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832: Illinois Volunteers, vol. 35 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1970), 1:182, 197; Daniel W. Stowell et al., eds., The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), 1:338-39, 342, 361, 368-84; Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales, Peoria County, 697:110, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL.