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. 195.
Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards

JOSEPH DONALDSON 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 County, Ky., 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 Britain and the United States 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 States.

            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.


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