Some say that John was born the same year his father died, an only child, raised by his Uncle William Purvis, and so migrated with William's family.
Family tradition is that he was a government surveyor. There is a dispute among branches whether John was a heavy user of whiskey or not. Earlier family members were traditionally closed mouth when it came to anything derogatory concerning other family members so who knows for sure?
Residences & other events in his life:
Abt 1795 Culpeper Co, VA He joined a party preparing to go west which consisted of the family of his uncle, William Purvis, the Burks, and possibly the Ginns, all from Culpeper Co. The journey took them through the mountains of MD and PA, then down the Ohio River on a flatboat.
Maysville, Mason Co, KY. Leaving the river, the journey would continue by land after his marriage and a short stay there.
1808 Hardin Co, KY, in the Licking River Valley near Elizabethtown, where son, William, was born. Sarah's brother, James, was in the next county east while her parents were 2 counties away.
1810 Fleming Co, KY. He and Uncle William were the only "Purvisses" in KY according to the census. They were neighbors, just 5 doors apart.
1811 His father being deceased, he was instead mentioned in the will of his Uncle James Purvis.
11/10/1814 Owingsville, Bath Co, KY. With the US threatened by British invasion on all borders, John enlisted in the 28th Inf of KY, commanded by Thomas Owings, and was sent to the Canadian border.
Following the War of 1812, he remained in the army for his 5 yr enlistment, serving as Pvt in 3rd Inf, Capt Daniel Baker's Co, because the 28th Inf had been disbanded. For his service he received 160 acres of land "to be located agreeably to the said act on any unlocated parts of the six millions of acres appropriated by law for the original grantees of such military warrants; and this warrant is not assignable or transferable in any manner whatever."
1819 Bath Co, KY. Returning from the service he returned to farming.
1820 Bath Co, KY. He bought 70 acres of land.
1820 Sva (?) Co, KY. John was the only Purvis in the county at census time while William, Charles, and George, were all in Nelson.
1820s He became infected by "Illinois Fever" which was raging in KY and moved on. Some family researchers say he moved to OH in 1820 but nothing to date supports that view.
8/7/1826 Sangamon Co, IL. John voted at the Springfield Courthouse, the only Purvis listed.
10/3/1826 Sangamon Co, IL. John and a Leroy Hill were named in early probate records in connection with the estate of a Jesse Southwick, both with notes due on 4/1/1829.
John sold some land to Thomas Morgan, details unknown.
1828/1829 Sugar Creek Twp, Sangamon Co, IL. John bought the county's first water mill which had been built in 1827 in Section 2 on Sugar Creek from A Lathrop. It was then used as a saw mill but he added a grist mill and ran a distillery as well. The distillery, "like others at that day, was extensively patronized." He sold out to Leroy Hill, mentioned above.
He sold more land, this time to Bennet C Johnson, other details unknown.
2/22/1830 Springfield, Sangamon Co, IL. Listed among the voters at the courthouse were John (Pervis) and sons, Isaac, William, and Thomas.
The History of Shelby and Moultrie Co, IL says:
"EAST NELSON TOWNSHIP.* (MOULTRIE COUNTY.)
*We are indebted to George Purvis for the facts related in this township history.
The first settlers were Joel and Peter Freeman, brothers, with their families, and James and George Purvis, who arrived early in the spring of 1830.....
James and George Purvis came April 1st, 1830, and built a cabin of rough unhewn logs on section 7, where George Purvis still continues to live. They broke the first prairie and put in a crop, and in the following month their father, John Purvis, his wife, and daughter Malinda came from Sangamon county. They all lived in this cabin one year, after which the elder Purvis moved to the " Mill Seat " at the bend of the river, where he lived with his sons John and James G., who had also arrived and built a cabi n. The bend in the river is nearly the shape of a horse-shoe, and is three and one-half miles around, and at the neck it is only seventy steps between the streams. At this point it is said there is about nine feet fall. The eighty acres, including the ben d, was entered by James Purvis in 1829. He, in company with this brother, John G., built a water mill on this neck in 1833, and it has ever since been know as the "Mill seat." It was a grist and saw mill, and was operated for several years by the Purvises and others, and finally washed away.
Maj. James Poor settled a half mile west of George Purvis in the fall of 1832. He had a family of five children, many of whose descendants are still living in the county. At one time Maj. Poor was owner of the Mill Seat. He died in 1850. Alfred Wood settl ed in 1833. Frederick Price, Thomas Purvis, a Mr. Sims, Absolun Brown, Mr. Fox, Boswell, Thomas Isaac and William Purvis, John Spencer, John Bracken, Milton Cox, Isaac Munson, John Goldsby, Samuel Martin, Joseph Lilly, Samuel Hughes, William Snyder, Alfr ed G. De Bruder, the Elders and Landers were all early settlers. Grandfather Purvis, who died in January, 1833, was probably the first death in the township. The first marriage was that of George Purvis, to Cassie Waller, in 1833....The first post-office was established at Nelson."
However, according to the next item, John moved later than 5/1830.
8/2/1830 Springfield, Sangamon Co, IL. Again voting at the courthouse were John G Purvis, son William, and son-in-law John Bracken.
1830 3rd Pct, Shelby Co, IL. The census taker recorded John Purvis at age 50-60 with a family consisting of 1 male age 15-20, 1 at 20-30, 1 female under 5, 1 age 15-20, and 1 at 40-50. Down the road was son Thomas. Son Isaac and John Bracken were still in Sangamon Co.
It is unlikely that John ever owned land in either Shelby or Moultrie counties as no records have been found for him, only the children. He probably just came along with the family.
At least one descendant believed he was born in England. Probably it was his ancestor who was born there.