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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



JOHN D. DOWNS is one of a family of six brothers, who were the sons of Larson and Sarah Downs, the family record being as follows: William, the eldest, is married and living at Heyworth; he was born Oct. 18, 1837, reared and educated in Randolph Township, and followed agricultural pursuits. His wife, formerly Miss Matilda Scott, a native of Ohio, was born May 8, 1839, and came to Illinois with her parents in her girlhood. This brother served as a soldier of the Union, being a member of Co. H, 39th Ill. Vol. Inf., which was known as the Yates Phalanx, and was commanded by Col. Thomas Osborne, now of Chicago. This gentleman was formerly Minister to the Argentine Republic, South America. After enlistment this brother went with his regiment to Jefferson Barracks, Mo., whence he proceeded with his regiment to Williamsport, Md., and thereafter participated in about seventeen engagements, including the siege of Charleston. He served out his term of enlistment, then veteranized, and endured with his comrades, bravely and faithfully, their later hardships and privations. He was also engaged in the battle of Drury's Bluff, and followed Grant into Richmond at the final surrender of Lee. After his discharge he returned home, and for five years was a resident of Miami County, Kan. He then returned to this State, and since 1873 has made his home in this county. George W. Downs, the second son of the family, owns 180 acres of valuable land in Rand and Downs Townships, upon which he is farming successfully. He also was in the army three years.

John D. of our sketch was born in Downs Township, Nov. 11, 1845. He received a fair education in the common schools, and lived with his parents until his marriage with Miss Eliza Cowden, which took place in Old Town Township, Feb. 20, 1868. Mrs. Downs was born in the latter-named township, March 10, 1850, and remained under the home roof until her marriage. Her father is now deceased; the mother is still a resident of Old Town Township. Our subject and his wife are the parents of seven children, all living at home, namely: Frank E., Mary M., Albert R., Frederick L., John C., Fannie G. and Blanche.

Mr. and Mrs. Downs after their marriage located in Downs Township, where they remained until 1878, in which year they removed to their present home in Randolph Township, which is located on section 12. The estate includes 337 acres of finely cultivated land, and in all its appointments indicates the best of management.

Solomon F. Downs, a younger brother of our subject, is a resident of Saybrook, this county, and the owner of 190 acres of good land; he was married in early manhood to Miss Anna E. Reid. Another brother, Albert P., owns 160 acres of land in Downs Township; he married Miss R. Lemon. Alfred E., who also owns a quarter section of land in Downs Township, married Miss Ellen A. Miller.

Larson Downs, the father of our subject, was born in Tennessee, April 30, 1808, and remained in his native State until thirteen years of age. His father died while he was still in his childhood, and his mother was married the second time, becoming the wife of William McGee. Afterward the family all came to Illinois, Larson Downs locating in what is now Downs Township, in 1829. He was the first permanent settler of that section, the township being named after him. He died here Sept. 7, 1860, in the fifty-second year of his age. Politically he was a Whig, and with his wife, a worthy member of the United Brethren Church. The mother of our subject, who was formerly Miss Sarah Welch, died at the old homestead in Downs Township, in 1866, aged forty-eight years. Five sons of the parental family are solid Republicans, and with the exception of Solomon F., are connected with the United Brethren Church.

Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 495. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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