Lee County Biography

Jacob Harden
Nelson Twp.


Jacob Harden, a wealthy, retired farmer, living on one of his farms on section 23, Nelson Township, has been long and honorably identified with the men of Lee County, who have been instrumental in developing the resources of this part of Illinois. The birthplace of our subject is in Somerset County, Pa., near the Mason and Dixon line, and there he was born February 2, 1822. His father, George Harden, was also a native of Pennsylvania, and he in turn was a son of Isaac Harden, of Pennsylvania birth, whose father David Harden, is thought to have been born in England, but the most of his life was passed in this country, his death occurring in the Keystone State when he was an old man. His son Isaac grew up in the State of his nativity, and was variously engaged as a farmer, miner of coal, and a distiller, running a distillery in the early days of the settlement of Somerset County, of which he was a pioneer. He died there in Northampton Township, at the age of eighty-one, falling dead on the road from the effects of a stroke of paralysis. He was a man whose many good traits made him greatly respected by his neighbors and others. He was twice married. His first marriage was with a Miss Neymeyer, a Pennsylvania lady, of English descent. She died in the prime of life when her son George, the father of our subject, was a young man. Isaac Harden married for his second wife Catherine Beal, of Somerset County, and she died there at the age of sixty years and more, a few years after the death of her husband.

George Harden was one of a family of four sons and three daughters born to his mother. One of the sons was a soldier in the War of 1812, and all of the children are now deceased. The father of our subject was reared to the life of a farmer on his father's farm, and carried on his occupation both in Pennsylvania and Maryland, his last years as well as his first being spent in the former State, where he died in the town of Wellersburgh, Somerset County, at the venerable age of eighty-six years. He was always a Democrat in politics, as was his father before him, and he was a Lutheran in religion, he held a Lieutenancy in the Pennsylvania State Militia, and was a familiar figure in the famous home musters of his time. He was married to Miss Hester Uhl in the county of Somerset, where she was born and reared, her early home being near the Mason and Dixon line. She was less than three-score years of age when she died in her native county, and left behind her the blessed memory of a good woman, a kind wife and loving mother. She was a Lutheran. Her parents, Jacob and Mary (Swartz) Uhl, were natives of Pennsylvania, and came of Holland ancestry. Their entire lives were passed in Somerset County, where tier father was engaged as a farmer, miller and tavern-keeper until his death at the age of sixty, his wife dying when seventy years old. They were prominent members of the Lutheran Church.

Our subject is one of nine children, three Sons and six daughters, one of the latter dying young, and now he and his sister, Mrs. Mary Troutman, a widow living in Grundy County, Iowa, at an advanced age, are the only survivors of that large family. Mr. Harden was twelve years old when his parents took up their residence in Allegany County, Md., where he attained his majority, and continued to live until 1851, when he returned to his native State and county and resided there some three years prior to coming to this State in April, 1854. He obtained a quarter of a section of wild land from the Government, which by downright hard labor he has transformed into one of the fine farms for which NeLson Township is justly noted. Itis highly cultivated and improved, is amply supplied with good farm buildings, modern machinery, etc. Besides his homestead on section 23, Mr. Harden owns eighty acres of valuable land on section 24 of the same township, which is also well improved. He has accumulated his property by his untiring industry, directed by shrewd judgment, good powers of calculation, and excellent business tact. Not only have his services been of value as an intelligent farmer, but he has played an important part in the public life of this section. His neighbors, recognizing his ability and the rectitude of his character, have pushed him to the front as an office-holder, and he has held several responsible positions in the township, besides representing it as a member of the Lee County Board of Supervisors. His fellow-citizens have always found him wise in council, a discreet and safe counsellor, and they know that they can trust him to the uttermost. In his polities he is a Democrat. Religiously, he and his wife and children are Lutherans.

Mr. Harden was married in the county of his birth to Miss Catherine Cook, and for forty-five years they have shared life's joys and sorrows. Mrs. Harden is a noble woman, whose warm, motherly heart goes out in sympathy to any in her community who are in grief or are suffering, and she is much beloved. Somerset County, Pa., is also her native county, and December 20, 1825, is the date of her birth. She was reared and educated and married in the place of her nativity, and is a daughter of Jacob and Catherine (Harden) Cook, who were natives of the same county as herself, and were of German and English ancestry respectively, her mother being born of New England parents. They lived and died on a farm when full of yers, and were well to do people. Mr. Cook was for some years a contractor and had a contract on the National Turnpike. He was a large land owner, and a successful farmer. Mrs. Harden is the youngest daughter in a family of seven sons and three daughters, of whom siz are yet living. Her marriage with our subject has been blessed to them by the birth of four sons and three daughters, of whom the eldest and youngest daugheters, Martha and Josei,a re dead. The others are Dennis C., of whom see biography; Malinda, wife of William Troutman, a farmer of York County, Neb.; D.G. a merchant of Utica, Seward County Neb., who married Miss Minnie Schulze; Emanuel J., a banker at Stratton, Hitchcock County, Neb., who married Martha Geer; and Jesse S. a bank cashier at Wauneta Falls, Neb.

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