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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



JOSEPH M. EASTERBROOK, a resident of Belleflower, and one of its most solid and substantial citizens, has been a resident of this locality since 1865 and during this time has fully established himself in the confidence and esteem of the people of this county. Mr. E. is a native of Ross County, Ohio, where he was born June 3, 1830. His father, George W. Easterbrook, was born on the Atlantic Ocean while his parents were on their journey from England to the United States. His grandfather, John Easterbrook, was born in the city of London and was a leader in Gen. Proctor's band during the Irish rebellion; he also figured prominently in the War of 1812, having come to the United States during its progress. He was captured by the troops of Gen. Harrison during the battle of the Thames. He had been forced into the English army when quite young, against his own wishes, and after his capture by the Federals he foreswore allegiance to the King and joined the colonists, being given a Captain's commission by Gen. Harrison. After peace was declared he located at Cincinnati, Ohio, and followed the profession of music in the schools of that city for a number of years, until he became quite aged. His death occurred in Fayette County, Ohio, after he had attained the advanced age of ninety-six years. His son, George W., the father of our subject, was reared in Cincinnati and Ross County, and having received a good education, adopted school-teaching as a profession, which he followed nearly all his life. He came to Illinois and this county in 1867, spending the last years of his life in Belleflower Township. He died here in 1875.

The mother of our subject, who before her marriage was Miss Elizabeth Pursell, was born in Ross County, Ohio. She became the mother of two children, our subject and his sister Mary. The latter married Rev. Samuel Middleton, and died in Barnesville, Ohio. Joseph M. was reared on his father's farm and assisted in the labors around the homestead. This was originally a tract of timber land and as soon as our subject was old enough he had to work upon the land, while his father added to the family income by teaching school. Our subject remained on the homestead until nine years after his marriage, and then, in 1865, purchased the farm which he now owns and occupies in Belleflower Township. Upon this there was a dilapidated frame house, and a part of the sod had been broken. The old house has now been replaced by a handsome and substantial farm dwelling, with a good barn and all other necessary out-buildings. He has been prospered in his business and farming transactions, and has added to his first purchase until he now owns 240 acres, all finely improved and under a good state of cultivation, with a fine area of pasture. The farm and its belongings constitute one of the attractive spots of the township.

Mr. Easterbrook was married, Oct. 5, 1854, to Miss Hannah J. Middleton, who is the daughter of Jacob and Rebecca (Bathurst) Middleton, natives of Center County, Pa. Her grandfather, James Middleton, of Pennsylvania, descended from English ancestry, followed agricultural pursuits, and spent the last years of his life in Ross County, Ohio. Jacob Middleton was reared in his native State, and after his marriage removed to Ohio, in 1821, settling in Ross County upon a tract of timber land. He cleared a farm from the wilderness, where he remained until 1866, and then came to McLean County, Ill., but returned to Ohio in 1873, and there died two years later. The maternal grandfather of our subject, Lawrence Bathurst, was a native of Pennsylvania, whose grandfather, Allan Bathurst, a native of England, emigrated to the United States and located in Center County, Pa., where he was engaged in teaching school. The mother of Mrs. Easterbrook is still living; she makes her home with our subject and his wife, and is now ninety-three years old.

Mr. and Mrs. E. are the parents of five children, as follows: Ada, the wife of John T. Brokaw, lives in Belleflower Township; Harry is at home; Carey and George W. are at Saybrook, and Jacob is also at home. Mr. and Mrs. E. and four of the children are connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics our subject is a stanch Republican.

The grandfather of Mr. Easterbrook was left an orphan when quite young and was taken in charge by his uncle, Rev. Joseph Easterbrook, who was a minister in the Church of England. This gentleman gave him a father's care and sent him to school. About three months prior to his graduation he was out with other students "sky-larking" in Lincoln, and he with six others were found with the King George sixpence in their pockets, and were forced to leave school and go into the army.

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), 516. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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