is a retired farmer and Justice of the Peace of Mason. He is numbered among Effingham
County's leading citizens and well deserves representation
in this volume. A native of Petersburg, Boone
he was born July 19, 1831, and is a son of Andrew and Catherine (Baxter) Donaldson, both of whom were natives of
Virginia. The father was of Scotch descent, and
the mother of German lineage. Joseph spent his boyhood days under the parental roof and in his youth attended the
public schools of Petersburg, where he acquired a good English education.
On the 25th of April, 1854, he left Carrollton, Ky., and went to New York,
expecting to go to California by boat, but found that all the accommodations
were taken, and together with about eight hundred others, he was disappointed in securing passage.
In company with six other young men, Mr. Donaldson determined to go overland, and, after making preparations for
the journey, they started forthwith. On reaching Salt Lake City one of the party secured a clerkship at that place,
but the others continued on their way and reached their destination on the 10th of September. Our subject spent
five years in California, and thence went to British America, where he remained nine months. Returning
by way of the Isthmus route, he arrived home in January, 1861. During his absence at Vancouver's Island Mr. Donaldson saw Gen. Scott for
the first time. A dispute had arisen between Great
and the United
concerning the boundary line, and the General, knowing the exact position of the boundary line, was there to decide
the matter. The next time our subject saw Gen. Scott the latter was at Carrollton, Ky., on a mail boat, and it was while he was
candidate for the Presidency of the United
As before stated, our subject returned home in 1861, and on the 30th of August of that year he married Miss Elizabeth,
daughter of George and Catherine (Menish) Bowling, who were natives of Virginia. They had three children, but Andrew
J., their eldest child and only son, died in infancy. Catherine became the wife of William Weston, a blacksmith
of Stewardson, Ill., and died March 6, 1881. Jennie became
the wife of Bird Sisson, of Mason, and they had two children, Earl Eugene and Joseph A. The latter died at the
age of three years. Mrs. Sisson was called to the home beyond February 13, 1889.
Soon after his marriage Mr. Donaldson bade good-bye to his bride and entered the service of his country as one
of the boys in blue of Company C, Eleventh Indiana Infantry, in which he served three years. On the expiration
of that time he returned home and aided in organizing a company, which enlisted for a year, but was discharged
after six months, for the war then ended. This company became Company C, of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Indiana
Regiment. During both terms of service Mr. Donaldson was under Col. Marsh B. Taylor, and was in the First Brigade
and First Division of Hancock's Corps. He participated in the battles of Harper's Ferry, Winchester, Halltown, and many other important engagements.
He was always found at his post of duty, and was a faithful and gallant defender of the Union.
When the war was over, Mr. Donaldson returned to Carrollton, Ky., where he remained until 1868, when he
removed to Effingham
County, Ill. The next six years of his life were spent
on a farm in Union Township. He had previously come here in 1862, but
made no permanent location. His farm, which contained eighty acres, he sold in 1874, and removed to the village
of Mason, where he engaged in coopering, which business
he followed until the improved machinery made hand work unnecessary. Abandoning that pursuit, he has since lived
a retired life.
Mr. Donaldson held the office of City Marshal and Street Commissioner for several years, and is now Justice of
the Peace. His public duties have ever been discharged with a promptness and fidelity that have won him the commendation
of all concerned. In politics he is a Democrat, and socially is a member of Mason Lodge No. 217, A. F. & A.
M., and Mason Chapter No. 76, R. A. M. Himself and wife belong to the Eastern Star, and they are also members of
the Methodist Church. Mr. Donaldson likewise holds membership
with Ransom Post No. 99, G. A. R. The Squire is one of the substantial citizens of Mason, and is now resting in
the enjoyment of a competence which has been acquired through his own efforts. He has lived a quiet, unassuming
life, yet he has won the esteem and confidence of all with whom he has been brought in contact. He was true to
his country in her hour of peril, and is alike true to every trust reposed in him.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Effingham, Jasper and
Richland Counties Illinois, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, Governors
of the State, and the Presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), p. 212. Transcribed by
Judy Rosella Edwards.