William was born in what is now
Grantsburg Township, Johnson County, October 3, 1833, and is now (1893)
a resident of Metropolis, Massac County.
His father, Benton Modglin, was born in Wilson County, Tennessee and
was reared there and married. He immigrated to Illinois and was one of
the pioneer settlers of Johnson County, where he secured a tract of
Government land in what is now Grantsburg Township, cleared his farm
and made a home there until his death, about 1851. The maiden name of
his wife was Martha Haley. She was born in Tennessee and died a short
time before her husband, having been the mother of 7 children, namely:
Pleasant H., Nancy, Martha, Joe, William, Benton and James F.
William T. Modglin attended the pioneer schools of Johnson County. They
were taught in the primitive log house, with earth and stick chimney, a
part of a log being taken out on one side for a window, and the seats
made of split logs and wooden pins inserted for legs, with no backs
behind and no desks in front. The country was then, of course, but
little improved, there was no railroad for years, and the people lived
exclusively off the products of their farms and the wild game that was
abundant in the woods.
The mother of
William T. was accustomed to carding, spinning and weaving, in that way
dressing her children in homespun cloth and in clothes which were made
by her own hand.
After the death of
William’s parents, he went to live with an elder brother in Pope County
and remained there one year. He then engaged in farming with his
brother-in-law one year, and in his twentieth year married, after which
he bought a land warrant of a Mexican soldier for eighty acres and
secured the land in the Grantsburg Township. There was a log cabin on
the place, to which he took his bride and in which they began
housekeeping. The land was heavily timbered and he commenced at once to
clear up his farm, on which he lived one and a half years, and then
traded his 80 acre farm for one hundred and twenty acres in the same
precinct, and lived there until 1879. In the meantime he bought other
land, and at one time he owned 800 acres all in one body. About 1879,
his health being very poor, he removed to Allen’s Springs, Pope County
, and bought a farm of 129 acres, remaining there until 1891, and then
removed to Metropolis, where he has since retired from active business.
April 16, 1853, William married Rachel E. Simmons, who was born at Cape
Girardeau, Mo., February 8, 1834, and who was the daughter of Lewis
Simmons, of Wayne County, Tenn., his father, Thomas Simmons, being one
of the pioneer settlers in Pope County, having removed from Tennessee.
He lived the rest of his life in that county and died there.
The father of Mrs. Modglin, Lewis Simmons went to Missouri when a young
man, married in that state, and came from there to Illinois about 1836.
He was a pioneer in Johnson County, secured Government land in what is
now Simpson Township, improved a farm and lived there many years. He
then removed to Grantsburg Township and here resided until his death.
The parents of Mrs. Modglin reared four children, namely: Sarah,
Irving, Hezekiah and Rachel. [The children listed are inaccurate. I
have a copy of Lewis Simmons Estate listing Elizabeth Modglin and her
brothers and sisters. Her sister, Catherine was my father’s maternal
Our subject , William T. Modglin and his worthy wife
have four children, namely Nancy J., wife of W. J. Miller, who has
seven children; Sarah C., wife of A. D. Howell; Fanny B., wife of
William B. Bivens, who has one child; and Ida M., wife of Leonard
Whitesides, who has one child. The parents of these children are
members of the United Baptist Church, and Mr. Modglin is a Republican
in politics. He served three years in the late war, in Company A, One
Hundred and Twentieth Illinois Infantry, and was captured and confined
in Andersonville, where he remained ten months, and was so starved that
he was not able to stand alone when liberated. But those privations did
not quench the patriotic fire that burned in his bosom, and we feel
safe in saying that he would fight for his country again if necessary.
from The Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope and Hardin
Counties, Illinois Chicago Biographical Publishing Co. 1893