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Mortimer HUNSAKER, Esq., one of the foremost citizens of Elvira Township, where he has a valuable and well-improved farm, is a representative of one of the earliest settlers of Illinois. He was born in Union County September 18,1831. His father, Nicholas Hunsaker, was a native of Pennsylvania, and was a son of Abraham Hunsaker, who, so far as known, was also born in that State. He migrated from there to the Territory of Illinois in 1812, and was one of the first to settle in Union County. At that time Illinois was practically uninhabited except by Indians; almost all the land was owned by the Government and but very little of it had been surveyed. Abraham Hunsaker located on Government land two and a-half miles from Jonesborough and made it his home until he closed his eyes in death. The maiden name of his wife was Jane Snyder.  They were worthy types of the true-hearted, self-sacrificing, courageous pioneers who opened up this country for settlement.

The father of our subject was six years old when the family came to Illinois to make a home in the wilderness, and he grew up amid the most primitive environments. After he attained manhood he located on Government land, occupying it several years before he bought it. He finally entered several tracts and was prosperously engaged in farming in Union County until his life was rounded out by death.

Our subject's mother, whose maiden name was Olivia Montgomery, and who was a native of Virginia, died in 1835, when he was but a few months old. He was reared in his native county and can well remember when the face of the country presented a far different appearance from what it does to-day, much of its original wildness remaining in his boyhood, and settlements were few and far between. There were no railways, and the towns on the Mississippi River were the principal markets for the farmers, and here they disposed of their corn at an average price of twenty-two cents a bushel and their wheat at fifty cents a bushel, while their best pork brought only $1.50 a hundred pounds. Wild turkeys, deer and other game were plentiful and furnished a welcome addition to the fare of the pioneers. Our subject's education was conducted in a pioneer school taught on the subscription plan, each one paying his share, according to the number of scholars sent. These schools were taught in log houses, provided with rude homemade furniture, the seats made of logs split and hewn smooth on one side, with four sticks put in for legs. The room was heated by a fireplace that extended entirely across one end of it.

At the time of his marriage Mr. Hunsaker bought a tract of land eight miles from Cobden. He resided there until 1870 and then purchased a farm in Elvira Township, which comprises three hundred and twenty acres of fertile land. It is kept in a fine condition, and the improvements on the place are of a substantial order. Mr. Hunsaker's home is pleasantly situated on the southwestern quarter of section 4, and is the seat of a cheerful, abundant hospitality, a cordial welcome awaiting all who cross its threshold. To the lady who presides over this home our subject was united in marriage in 1855, and their union has brought them three children: Jennie,  Augustus and Charles.  Mrs. Hunsaker was Mary Stearns in her maiden days. She is also a native of Union County, like her husband, and is a daughter of John and Anna Stearns.

Mr. Hunsaker is a man of much force of character, who is possessed in a full degree of those traits that lead to success and command the confidence of his fellow-citizens, as is shown by the various offices of trust that they have confided to his care. During his residence in Union County he served as Justice of the Peace, as School Director and Township Treasurer, and he has been Justice of the Peace in Elvira Township. In his political views, he is a decided Democrat.



transcribed by Nan Starjak

Source:
The Biographical Review of  Johnson, Massac, Pope and Hardin Counties
Chicago
Biographical Publishing Co., 1893
pp 301 - 302

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