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John H. Spence
Cheney's Grove
McLean County, Illinois

JOHN H. SPENCE, an enterprising and successful farmer residing on section 21, Cheney's Grove, McLean county, was born in Xenia, Greene county, Ohio, August 19, 1850, a son of John A. Spence, a portrait painter and artist of considerable ability.

The father was born in St. Louis, Missouri, of which place his father, Henry Spence, was an early settler and business man. In Xenia, Ohio, John A. Spence married Miss Maria Horn, a native of that city and a daughter of John Horn, who was born in Germany and was a pioneer of Ohio. For some years after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Spence continued to reside in Xenia and then removed to Illinois, locating in Stanton, where the father died in 1858.

The mother is still living, a hale and hearty old lady of about seventy years, and finds a pleasant home with our subject. In their family were six children, five of whom are still living, namely: Sarah, now the widow of Elijah Stephens, and a resident of Denver, Colorado; J. H., our subject; Mary, wife of David Shelbrick, of Columbus, Ohio; Julia, wife of John Saylor, of Saybrook, Illinois; and Catherine Card, a resident of McLean. Anna died in childhood at Heyworth, this county.

When a lad of ten years, John H. Spence came with his mother to Heyworth, and in this county he grew to manhood, his education being mostly acquired in the public schools of Heyworth. As his father was dead, he lived upon a farm with his uncle, Robert McIlvain, an early settler of McLean county, and he early acquired an excellent knowledge of agricultural pursuits.

On starting out in life for himself, he rented and operated some of Kerrick's land in Funk's Grove township, and later farmed on the Sherwood land in Anchor township for four years. In 1883 he purchased one hundred and sixty acres near Gibson City, in Ford county, and to the cultivation and improvement of that place he devoted his time and attention for seven years. He then sold out and returned to McLean county, buying a fairly well improved farm of one hundred and twenty acres on section 21, Cheney's Grove township, where he now resides.

He has since added to this a twenty-acre tract, and now has a valuable and fertile farm of one hundred and forty acres, which he has placed under a high state of cultivation. It is divided into fields of convenient size by well-kept fences, and he has built a good barn and cribs, set out fruit and shade trees and made many permanent improvements on the place, so that it is now one of the most desirable of its size in the locality.

Politically, Mr. Spence is identified with the Prohibition party, but formerly was a Republican. He and his mother hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church in Saybrook, and have the respect and esteem of all who know them. He started out in life for himself in limited circumstances, but by hard labor, close application, untiring perseverance and good management he has become quite well-to-do, and is regarded as one of the most successful as well as one of the most reliable farmers of his community.

[The Biographical record of McLean County, Illinois - S.J. Clarke Publishing Company - (1899)]


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