Patience Ann Champion was born in New Jersey in 1804. She met and married Federal Champion who was also from New Jersey and was 4 years older than she. The year they were married is unknown. In March of 1830 when Patience was 26 they had their first daughter and named her Mary F. Champion. This baby was rapidly followed by the birth of Jane Janette born in July of 1831. Patience surely had her hands full with two children born only fourteen months apart! In February of 1833 the Champions had their first son and he was named Benjamin Franklin Champion.
In March of 1835 they became parents again, naming the new baby girl Margaret C. They must have thought their family was complete, but in October of 1838 they had a fourth baby girl and named her Arabella Geneva Champion. Sadly this little girl died at the age of 3 years and 18 months of age.
Federal Champion was an ambitious man, and sometime around 1840, the family relocated to Belleville, Illinois. He established a pill and potion factory in Belleville near Church Street. Patience assisted Federal with the business while raising their children. Their daughter Jane Janette married William Henry Snyder of Belleville, who became a judge. They had a son that they named Frederick Champion after Jane’s father. Frederick eventually became a doctor, but he died in 1877.
Federal Champion became ill and died in November, 1847 of unknown causes. He left the pill factory and some property to his wife Patience, with the expectation that their son Benjamin Franklin would take over his business. Patience was 43 years old, and the only child still at home was Benjamin who was fourteen when his father passed on. Patience was also an ambitious and independent woman, when she was fifty she had a home built at 218 Charles Street in Belleville. A biography of Federal Champion was published Friday, October 02, 1896 in the Belleville Semi-Weekly Advocate – View Article
The house was started in 1854 and it is not known when she moved into the home, but her son Benjamin would have been about 21 when they moved in. Benjamin had become a “druggist” and had an advertisement in the Belleville newspapers in 1860. Sadly he died December 31, 1860, leaving his mother to live alone in their large house on Charles Street.
The house was of the Italianate style with foot high windows and doors. There were three bedroom/living areas on the second floor. (The views from the second floor windows was of the spires of Calvary Church at 215 S. Jackson Street, and Cathedral of St. Peter. The Cathedral parish was founded in 1847, the present day church was dedicated in 1866). A bathroom was located on the landing between the first and second floors. There was an attic area for whatever staff she had working for her, and they would have had to come down two flights of stairs to use the bathroom at the landing. There was a fireplace in the sitting area of Patience’s bedroom and a fireplace in the dining room and living rooms. In the basement were the pipes for the bathrooms, which was later an area for wiring for electricity. To this day, the house has radiators in each room for heating.
Patience lived for four years in the house after the death of Benjamin but most likely keeping up with such a large house on her own became a burden, and she sold the house to Julius Liese in 1864. She may have moved in with one of her two daughters who were still living, either Jane Janette or Margaret C. She died at the age of 88 in 1892, out living all her children except Jane Janette Snyder who died in 1894.
The family are buried close together in the Green Mount Protestant Cemetery in Belleville. A monument is dedicated to the remains of Patience, Federal, Arabella and Benjamin Champion. It is presumed that Mary and Margaret are also buried at this location,at Lot 39- Section 34-35. Next to the Champion monument are gravestones for Jane (Champion) Snyder, William Henry Snyder and his son Frederick Champion Snyder, and other members of the Snyder family.
The family are buried close together in the Green Mount Protestant Cemetery in Belleville. A monument is dedicated to the remains of Patience, Federal, Arabella and Benjamin Champion. It is presumed that Mary and Margaret are also buried at this location, at Lot 39- Section 34-35. Next to the Champion monument are gravestones for Jane (Champion) Snyder, William Henry Snyder and his son Frederick Champion Snyder, and other members of the Snyder family.
B. F. Champion’s Close Call with the The Kate Kearney steamboat disaster
B. F. Champion was the son of Patience and Federal Champion and the eldest child, who took over the Champion Pill Factory after his father’s death. A particularly interesting story about B. F. Champion was his near close call on Thursday February 14th, 1854 when the river steamboat The Kate Kearney exploded. B. F. Champion took The Kate Kearney the night before, and was on the way to take it again when the explosion occurred.
The explosion aboard the Kate Kearny occurred when one of its eight boilers exploded just after the departure bell rang. Between fifty and sixty souls were on board, with at least 8 killed and twice as many serious injured, according to the The Belleville Semi-Weekly Advocate.
Read more about the explosion of The Kate Kearny in this steamboats.org article.
See the full article from February 22nd, 1854 from The Belleville Semi-Weekly Advocate