1894 Plat Book of Morgan County Illinois






1894 Plat Book of Morgan County Illinois
"Statistics of the Population of Morgan County By Townships, With Abstract of Agricultural Productions"




Samuel Adams, M.D., was born in Gilead, Maine, December 19, 1806. He entered Boudoin College at the age of twenty and graduated in 1831. He then engaged as a teacher of modern language in the same institution, which he followed for two years, studying medicine in the mean time. He received his degree while a tutor at the college in 1835. He next practiced medicine nearly two years at Brunswick, Maine, and in the mean time was married (September, 1836), to Miss Mary J. Moulton, daughter of Dr. Jonathan Moulton. They have had four children, one of whom is now deceased. Dr. Adams was called to the professorship of chemistry and philosophy in Illinois college, at Jacksonville, in October. 1837. Except president Sturdevant, he is the oldest professor connected with the Illinois college, having held his position thirty-five years. His only son, Frank Adams, enlisted, in July, 1861, in the thirty-third regiment Illinois volunteers. He was only eighteen years of age, but from a first lieutenancy he was promoted step by step for gallantry in the service, and his record was a brilliant one until his discharge in August, 1865. He was breveted major and lieutenant colonel. On his return, he taught a short time in Illinois college. Then he was about one year in business in Wheeling, Virginia, when he engaged in the engineer corps on the Pacific railroad, but his health failing, he returned home, where he died, November, 1868. Professor Adams and wife are active members of the congregational church.

Rev. Peter Akers, D.D., was born in Campbell county, Virginia, September 1, 1790. He received his early education in his native state, completing his classical course at New London Academy, Virginia, and Hyco Academy, North Carolina. In the fall of 1815, he went to Kentucky, and taught six months in the State Institution, at Mt. Sterling, being president of the institution at the same time. During this term senator Davis, of Kentucky, was a pupil. He commenced a thorough course of study preparatory to entering upon the practice of law, which he completed at Flemingsburg, when he was admitted to the bar, in December, 1816, and entering into a copartnership with Major William Fleming, commenced practice. He continued his profession until June, 1821 (being in the meantime editor of The Star, a political paper, advocating the doctrines of Henry Clay), when he turned his attention to the ministry. He was converted June 24, 1821. He was a close student, using his leisure in mastering Hebrew. He has filled up the measure of fifty-one years, as a Methodist preacher; commencing as a pioneer circuit rider in the states of Virginia, Kentucky, and Illinois. He was first sent as a delegate to the general conference, in 1828, and the last mission of that kind was in May, 1872; being forty-four years known in the general conference, a record that no other man in this country can truthfully claim. He first became a citizen of Morgan county in 1832. On his return from the session of the general conference, he was called to fill the chair of McKendree College, which, with reluctance, he accepted for one year. Since he has had charge of various districts. Again he was called to McKendree College five years, making, in the aggregate, over half a century of pastoral labor. He is now on the superannuated list, although often in the pulpit.
Dr. Akers was first married March 12th, 1818. His wife, to use his own language, was his "spiritual mother." By this union he has one son now living, William Dennis Akers. He was married to Miss Betsey Bird, of Morgan county, April 21, 1825, by which marriage he had eleven children, five of whom are now living. He was married to his present wife, Miss Ann Goheen, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, May 12, 1846. By this marriage he had one son, now deceased. We do not propose to even give the outlines of the life of Dr. Akers, but we will say that in his life he has been studious, active, zealous, and devoted. His labors have resulted in grant moral and intellectual good to his fellows; and there are now living in the northwest more people, doubtless, who have listened to his ministrations of the gospel, than to those of almost any other preacher. He was a pioneer preacher in several states.

John T. Alexander is a native of Western Virginia. He was born on the 15th of September, 1820. His father, William Alexander, was born in the town of Dungannan, County of Tyrone, Ireland, in the year 1797, his parents having early in life moved from Scotland to Ireland. Mr. Alexander was married to Miss Ann Smith, soon after which they emigrated to Western Virginia, which was about 1818. Immediately after arriving there, he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits. He resided in that state five years, then moved to Jefferson county, Ohio, and lived there for a period of seventeen years. He there soon became largely engaged in stock dealing, and while residing in Ohio he handled more stock than any other dealer of that state. His markets at that time comprised the cities of New York and Philadelphia, and in getting his large herds to those markets it was necessary to drive them across the mountains. In 1840 Mr. Alexander emigrated to Morgan county, Illinois, with his family, which then consisted of eleven children. Being a man of great energy, and possessing that genuine pluck for which Scotch blood has long been noted, he here soon became a large farmer and stock dealer. When he came to the state, the capital which he possessed amounted to about two thousand dollars. But he soon set to work to make a home for himself and family, and, by that energy which ever characterized him in the course of his business, he acquired a competence. Mr. Alexander and wife both became active and efficient members of the First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville. As a business man, during his long life, he preserved a purity and honesty in his dealings which mark but few men of his age. His word could always be relied on. Whenever he agreed to do a particular thing at a specified time, it was always sure to be done. Such is but a brief recital of the life and work of the venerable father of the subject of this sketch, coming, as he did, to America, poor and friendless, and accomplishing in life what he did, can but enhance the estimation in which his neighbors and friends held the straightforward principles and policy which actuated his whole career as a business man. He died at the residence of his son-in-law, D. R. Fitch, on the 6th of August, 1872. His widow is yet surviving at the advanced age of seventy-eight years, and is in the enjoyment of good health.
Mr. John T. Alexander received his early education in the common schools of Ohio, attaining what would now be considered a very meager education; his knowledge of the mathematics extended only to about single rule of three. His culture was most all obtained in the log school houses of that day; and, with no other assistance than an education of that character, in conjunction with the native powers of his mind, he was thrown upon the world to battle with its realities. At the age of thirteen years, he accompanied his father on the trip made with their cattle over the mountains to Philadelphia, and when fifteen years of age his father would entrust him with the care of taking over to Philadelphia droves of cattle, paying all expenses on the way, riding ahead and securing feed for the night; and when, having arrived at his destination, he would make a good sale of his stock, then tie the money in belts on his body, and in due time deliver it up to his father. He sometimes had in charge two or three droves at a time. When a small lad he tried raising hogs, and afterwards colts, but meeting with no success in these he turned his attention to the growing of calves, which proved successful, and seemingly gave him a love for handling cattle. The first impression of those youthful days, the carrying out of which ultimately determined his future success, placed him foremost among American farmers; or, more happily expressed in the language of Governor Yates, "The Napoleon farmer of the northwest". Until his father moved to Illinois, Mr. Alexander's time was principally spent at home. When about seventeen years of age he made several trips to this state to buy cattle to take to the Ohio, Philadelphia, and New York markets, and while on a prospecting tour with another young man, when for the first time he saw the extensive and almost treeless prairies of Illinois, he made use of the following expression: "This is God's own country; for me goodbye to the timber and hills of Ohio." He came to Morgan county at the time stated above with his parents. In Mr. Alexander we find a man whose whole life has been one of methodical thought and systematic care in the management of his extensive business; great, from the single fact that he inaugurated new systems in the furthering of his business aims, and carried them out to their legitimate conclusions. While others doubted the correctness of the means employed, he never for once felt but that he was adequate for the task. The first drove of fat cattle that was ever driven from Illinois to eastern markets was taken by Mr. Alexander and his father. When he commenced life on his own account he had only about one thousand dollars, and his course of business was step by step upwards. One thing commendable in Mr. Alexander's career was, that he always had warm financial friends; the greatest deference was always paid to the truth of his word, which was never doubted when given in candor. About 1855 he commenced his large shipments to New York, and his career in the cattle trade has eclipsed anything ever before done in that line in the United States. His name has become as familiarly known to the people of this country as the names of Vanderbilt or Fisk in the railroad world, or Stewart or Astor in mercantile life. At one time Mr. Alexander owned over thirty-two thousand acres of land, some of the most valuable lands of Illinois, situated in Champaign and Morgan counties, and at times he has owned as many as seventeen thousand head of cattle. Now, a mind which could superintend the varied and extensive businesses with which Mr. Alexander had to deal was of no common kind, but most certainly embraced in its composition rare qualities and eminent traits. He united maturity of judgment, far-reaching sagacity, and correctness of business principles with an executive ability that would have done honor to any station. The systems which he inaugurated in his transactions were so new and varied in their application, that men wondered how it was that one mind could penetrate to the results of so extensive a business when we take into consideration that, sometimes in a single year, his transactions in cattle alone amounted to five million dollars. While railroad and mercantile transactions are always governed by systematic rules, he could not so readily establish regulations for the minute control of his business, but seemingly he would launch out on a speculation with nothing for his guide but his well-poised judgment (and that, by all of his friends, was considered equal to all emergencies) and undoubtedly the chances of trade would never have turned against him, had it not been for the dishonest transactions of some of his numerous agents. Yet his friends claim that the energy which now lies dormant will soon again assert itself, and that in a few years his cattle business will be as great and extensive as ever before. However that may be, he has already achieved a great success in life as the result of his great energy and eminent qualifications for business; and when it is considered that he began life poor, the greatness of his achievements stands out in striking contract to his humble beginning. He is, indeed, a great man - great in his sphere, as many others, not more highly endowed, have been in more conspicuous circles; and one cannot be in his presence and converse with him without being impressed by the power of his intellect, - without feeling that he is no common man. We need not eulogize the subject of this notice. His achievements, what he has done, speak more eloquently than words in attestation of the force and excellence of his character. He is a man of fine feelings and gentlemanly qualities, and marked by the same purity of conduct in his business career as in his deportment at home. During the late war he was among the prominent supporters of the Union cause, and his name is associated with many a benevolent act for the alleviation of our suffering soldiers.
At the age of twenty-four Mr. Alexander was married to Miss Mary DeWeese, the daughter of Nimrod and Elizabeth DeWeese, or Morgan County, Illinois. They had a family of eight children, five of whom are still living. Politically, Mr. A. is a strong supporter of the principles of the republican party.

Stephen G. Allis was born in Georgia, Franklin county, Vermont, January 5th, 1805. At the age of fifteen he commenced learning the trade of a tanner, and currier, which business, however, he followed only for a few years. In the spring of 1838, he came to Morgan county, and for one year remained three miles south of Jacksonville, when he settled on section 26, township 13, range 8, where he has since resided. Mr. Allis was married, December 28, 835, to Miss Ann Chapin, of Newport, New Hampshire. They had by this union six children; all of them died in infancy.

Those precious gems of earthly love,
Were early called to realms above.


Mr. Allis has made farming a specialty since he has been a citizen of Morgan county. His motto is, "That which is worth doing at all is worth doing well." He had taken a prominent part in sustaining all institutions, both moral and intellectual, which tend to ameliorate and elevate the condition of our race. His purity of life and disinterested Christian benevolence, his system and method as a practical business man, coupled with his domestic virtues, are among the traits by which he is known and appreciated among his numerous acquaintances, who can best estimate his worth. He is a good practical farmer, and has been quite successful. A fine view of his residence may be seen elsewhere in this work.

Robert Allison was born near Selby, Yorkshire, England, September 12, 1801. He embarked for America in the spring of 1821, and spent a few months after his arrival with his brother Thomas, in Indiana. He came into Morgan county and settled about four miles northwest of the present site of Jacksonville, in the spring of 1822. He bought the Mount Pleasant farm, where he now lives about two years after. He established the first mill, using ox power in grinding corn and wheat, and had customers from a great distance. He visited England in 1829. After his return he was married to Miss Mary, third daughter of Robert Norwood. He had six children by this marriage, four of whom are now living; viz.: Sarah, present wife of Robert Hill; Mary, present wife of George Branham; Adam, still residing with his father; and Ann, present wife of John Funk. Mr. Allison is still enjoying health and mental faculties almost unimpaired by age. His family are comfortably located near him, and he has one of the most desirable locations in the county - a good farm, situated on section 22, township 15, range 11, which is one of the best townships in the state. Mr. Allison has been a witness of the gradual and stead y growth of Morgan county almost from its first settlement for half a century, and is one of the few pioneers of fifty years ago who are still residing in the county.

William Armstrong - THIS GENTLEMAN WAS BORN IN Greene County, Kentucky, on the first of September, 1795. Joshua Armstrong the father of the above, was an old revolutionary soldier. He served under the direct command of Washington for several years. The Armstrongs originally were of Irish descent, and settled in Pennsylvania some years previous to the war of the revolution. The old hero entered the army from that state. After the war, he went from Pittsburg, by water, to Kentucky, and located in Greene county. Not liking this section he removed to Warren county. From the latter he emigrated to Illinois, and settled in Madison county. This county at that time comprised nearly one-third of the state. Again he removed, to Jersey county, where he died about twenty years ago. The old soldier's widow (whose maiden name was Sarah Moss) only lived about eight years after her husband's decease. They sleep side by side in the Richwoods cemetery. "United in life, they were not separated in death." There were nine children, six boys and three girls, all of whom arrived at maturity, and were an honor to their patriotic parents. Truly the old hero was rewarded in some measure for his fidelity and love of country. The education of Mr. A. was obtained under the subscription system. As was the case in many of the poor and thinly-settled districts, the schools were of little importance, owing not only to the limited continuance of the terms, but also the incapacity of the instructors. He attended several sessions in Greene and Warren, in Kentucky, and also in Madison county, Illinois. In the latter county, the remaining days of his pupilage were used to some advantage. The memory of Mr. A. is ever fresh with the scenes that transpired in that little log cabin, called, by courtesy, a school house. Mr. Armstrong learned the saddlery business under the instruction and guidance of Capt. Chambers, of Chambers' Fort, St. Clair county, Ill. After having served an apprenticeship of over three years, he went into business on his own account. (Capt. Chambers, whose name is mentioned above, was one of the celebrated settlers of that section of the state.) Mr. Armstrong was particularly fortunate in securing a position in his establishment, as Capt. Chambers was one of those good-hearted men who looked closely after the interests of his employees. In connection with Capt. Chambers we would state that the subject of this history was a member of his company during the war of 1812. They were engaged in garrisoning the forts, reinforcing the same, and guarding supplies. Mr. Armstrong was discharged a short time after the battle of New Orleans. Peace had been declared several days previous to the engagement, but the official notification did not reach the army until several days after the battle. He returned home to Madison county after his indenture was cancelled, and purchased a building on his father's land, which he used for s shop. Previous to this time, he had assisted his father in conducting the labor on the farm; and now he worked at the saddle and harness business, and in conjunction with the same, afforded considerable aid in the field.
Mr. Armstrong was married in Madison county to Miss Susan H. Oden, daughter of Thomas Oden, Esq., of St. Charles county, Mo. Having purchased a farm in Madison county, he remained on the same several years. His labors were varied, either by tilling the soil, working at his trade, or making some improvement about his house. In 1825 he stared, with his family, to Morgan county, arriving there in the spring of that year. The old pioneer saw the stakes set for the location of Jacksonville, and witnessed the survey and sale of the lots. The excitement was great in regard to the location of the court house and other public buildings. Even in 1825 the people understood the art of lobbying, and well practiced that scientific mode of influencing officers and citizens in favor of their schemes for the site of the court house and other prominent buildings. Mr. Armstrong saw many hunting parties of the Indians who roamed unmolested over this portion of Illinois. The game was plenty on the prairies and in the timber. The rivers and creeks were stocked with fish that would please the appetite of the epicure. Well might the aborigines regard Morgan as their favorite hunting ground, and watch the approach and increase of the whites with feelings of commingled fear and vengeance. Soon hostilities commenced, and many a poor farmer's house and buildings were burned, his stock carried off, and, perhaps his wife and children scalped and massacred by their wily foe. Mr. Armstrong often was engaged in conflict with the Indians, but was fortunate in receiving no wounds. Many a day and night were passed in burying the dead or dressing the fearful wounds caused by the tomahawk, arrow, or musket. Peace was soon declared, and the settler once more returned to his avocation. About this time (1827) Mr. A. killed two black bears while out hunting. Many a day was spent in chasing the deer, treeing the coon, or in setting the traps for the fur-bearing animal. Those were halcyon days, when venison was so common and cheap that much was wasted or thrown to the dogs. It seems like a dream, to think of the deer, the wolf, and the buffalo, to have roamed over the present situation of Jacksonville. Verily, "truth is stranger than fiction."
Mr. Armstrong did not take part in the Black Hawk war. Many of the pioneers hastened to the fray, but owing to his large family, Mr. Armstrong, though much against his inclination, remained at home. Mrs. Armstrong, an estimable lady, died about fifteen years ago, leaving a large family to mourn her departure. There were eleven children in all, three of whom have since died. We understand that the veteran receives a pension as some compensation for his services in the war of 1812. His father before him was also a pensioner, the patriotic feeling seeming hereditary in the family. Mr. Armstrong is over seventy-nine years of age, and keep house all by himself. His health appears good, and, judging from his energetic stride, we should count him as yet good for a hard day's work. The old hero remains to tell us of the past, and to remind the present generation of the labors and privations incident to the founding of a state. He is fortunate in living in the present age, and contrasting its luxuries with the necessities of former times. Yatesville is fortunate in having the old pioneer as one of her citizens. He has been foremost in all works of improvement or of a philanthropic character. He, moreover, has aided in a substantial manner many of the present generation. We trust that when the time comes to close his pilgrimage on earth, he will feel that he is rewarded in some measure for all his troubles, anxieties, and distresses in the cause of liberty and free government. We trust that the time is far distant when the old hero shall be removed from the midst of his relations and friends, endeared as he is by ties of consanguinity and friendship. May we copy his patriotism, energy, and love of improvement, that we, like him, may accomplish much of good for our country. We could dwell more at length upon the history of Mr. Armstrong, but we feel that the above may give some idea of his eventful life as a pioneer, soldier, and citizen farmer.

Hon. Henry J. Atkins is a native of Mt. Vernon, Maine, and was born February 23, 1835. He was the eldest son of Joseph and Eunice Atkins. At an early age he entered Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, and in consequence of ill health, was prevented from completing a full collegiate course. After leaving school he made a trip west, in order to recuperate his energies, and traveled considerably in the territories. In 1858, Mr. Atkins opened a law office in Jacksonville, and, by his energy and strong intellect, rose rapidly in the profession, until he had attained a reputation as a lawyer, surpassed by few members of the bar of central Illinois. He filled with marked ability, the position of State Attorney, of this district, for a considerable period. In 1869, was elected a member of the constitutional convention, from Morgan county; and, although an invalid during its entire session, proved himself a useful and valuable member, being the youngest in that convention except one member.
On the 15th December, 1861, Mr. Atkins was married to Miss Laura A. French, the daughter of Samuel and Nancy French, of Morgan county. Mrs. Atkins was educated in the grammar school of Roxbury, Massachusetts. They have had three children, Herbert T. Atkins, is the only one now living. Mr. Atkins, for a short period, was private secretary to Gov. Yates. After a brief illness, he died at his residence, December 4, 1870.

David B. Ayers - Among the men who early became identified with the moral and intellectual welfare of Jacksonville and Morgan county, no one has left a more desirable record than the subject of this biography. The great aim of his life, like that of His whom he humbly sought to imitate, was to do good. He was active and energetic among the few pioneers of the Sabbath School work of his time. His history shows conclusively, that for nearly half a century of life, he fully comprehended its importance. He has left to the world a brilliant record of his faith, shown by his untiring zeal and energy in this work. As one of the original trustees of the Jacksonville Female Academy, which position he occupied till his death, he exhibited his love and devotion to the cause of education. One of the channels of his benevolence was furnishing finances, aid, and encouragement to young men who were striving to obtain an education. These private acts of his beneficence are still treasured up in grateful hearts living today. David B. Ayres was born Nov. 21, 1798, in Newark, New Jersey. He was the son of David and Abigail Ayres, and removed to Philadelphia, where he engaged in the sale of drugs and medicines. Here the subject of this sketch was educated, and was married November 1, 1821, to Miss Eliza, daughter of Daniel and Mary Freytag. He continued his business in the sale of drugs until 1830, when with his family, he settled in the village of Jacksonville, where he established, on east State street, near the Public Square, the first drug store in Morgan county, which was doubtless the first in the state. He erected the building on the corner of west State street and the Square, now occupied by John Carter and the banking house of M. P. Ayres & Co., which he moved into in 1832. He soon added books to his trade, which was the first stock of importance in that line in the county. As agent of Mr. John Grigg, of Philadelphia, assisted by others, he sold 125,000 of land, in various counties in Illinois. In the sale these lands he was actively engaged, his two sons becoming his successors in his former mercantile interests. He finished his earthly record September 26, 1850. He was an earnest Christian, and a useful and highly respected citizen. Mr. Ayres and his family (as his parents before him) were active members of the Presbyterian Church. His mother, after a residence of eighteen years in Morgan county, died at the advanced age of ninety-one years. His wife is still living in Jacksonville. Mr. Ayres has not only bequeathed to posterity the example of a well spent life, but has left representatives who are among the business men of the county, interested largely in the financial and manufacturing interests, with which, for over forty years, they have been identified.




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