genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893, p. 234.  Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
JOSEPH SIMONS, one of the enterprising and public-spirited citizens of Assumption, Christian County, has been a resident of this locality for twenty-eight years. He has retired from commercial life and now only looks after his various investments in real estate. He is a self-made man, having started out in life almost entirely without capital, and he has made a considerable fortune.

Mr. Simons is a native of Prussia, his birth having occurred August 20, 1832. His youth was spent in his native land, where he received a good education in his mother tongue. He has acquired the English language since coming to the United States.

He served an apprenticeship and learned the baker's trade in Germany, where he afterwards followed the business for two years. Being an ambitious young man, he concluded to try his fortune in the New World, and in 1857 took passage in a sailing-vessel, going from Antwerp to New York. He arrived at his destination after the lapse of five weeks, during which time the vessel encountered a very severe storm for twenty-two days. Mr. Simons at once proceeded to Illinois, and at first found work at Aurora, on the seminary, which was then in course of construction.

The following few months of his life were spent on the farm, as he hired out for the winter to a neighboring farmer. In 1858, Mr. Simons went to Sangamon County, where he spent four years also working on a farm.

In August, 1862, our subject enlisted in defense of the country of his adoption, becoming a member of Company C, One Hundred and Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, and was in the service until he received an honorable discharge at the close of the war, in July, 1865, being mustered out at Camp Butler, Springfield, Ill. Mr. Simons saw much active service, and with his regiment took part in a number of very important engagements. He was all through the Vicksburg campaign, and was present at the surrender of the stronghold, July 4, 1863. He was in the two battles at Jackson, Miss., and met with a severe accident in the battle of Guntown, June 12, 1864, when his arm was shattered by a musket ball. The member was amputated above the elbow a few days later.

On account of being disabled he was taken prisoner a few days after the battle, and the operation was performed by a Confederate surgeon in the hospital at Mobile, Ala. After his partial recovery he was sent to Cihaby, and afterwards to Andersonville Prison, being confined in the last-named until the close of the war. Upon being released he made his way back to Vicksburg, in which city he was on the night of President Lincoln's assassination, April 14, 1865.

Mr. Simons embarked in the restaurant business soon after his return from the South, in Assumption, which was then only a small village. From year to year he increased the business and was very successful for many years. In 1880, he sold out his interest, and since that time has attended to investments in real estate. In addition to his restaurant, he was for a few years also engaged in the grocery business.

A number of years ago Mr. Simons purchased a tract of land near the village, comprising two hundred and sixty-six acres. Upon this place he has made many improvements and has since bought another farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which he has also placed under good cultivation and improved. Thus he is the owner of four hundred and twenty-six acres of valuable farm land in Assumption Township. He has also erected four business houses in the village, two of them being substantial brick buildings. He also owns a fourth interest in the Opera House, and a neat modern residence which he occupies.

The marriage of Mr. Simons was celebrated November 6, 1867, when Miss Flora Bickner became his wife. She is a native of New York, and came to Illinois when a child with her father, Edward Bickner, who was one of the earliest settlers of this county. By the union of Mr. and Mrs. Simons have been born five children. Jennie is the wife of Michael Donovan, of Assumption; Joseph holds a good business position in Chicago; Jacob lives at home; and Eliza and Willie complete the family. Our subject, his wife and children are all members of the Catholic Church.

Mr. Simons cast his ballot in favor of the Democratic party, and has been several times elected to fill local positions of responsibility and trust. He is well known in this and neighboring counties, and well merits the reputation he bears as a man of unblemished honor and upright character. He has ever been found on the side of progress, and has been no small factor in the development of Christian County.



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