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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



WILLIAM JONES, one of the self-made men and energetic citizens of Le Roy, is a native of Liverpool, England, and born Sept. 20, 1836. His father, John Jones, a tailor by trade, was a native of the same country, his birth having occurred July 4, 1800. He followed his trade in Liverpool in early life, and in about 1840 emigrated to America. He first located in Springfield, Ohio, and in company with another gentleman engaged as a merchant tailor, and two years later was joined by his wife and son. They lived in Springfield until 1851, then came to Illinois and located in Danville, where John Jones opened a tailor-shop, and carried on business until his death, which occurred in 1857.

In early life he was married to Miss Betsey Wood, a native of his own country, who was born July 10, 1804. They became the parents of five children, two now living, of whom our subject was the second. His sister Maggie, who was born in Ohio, married Joseph Taut, and they live in Terre Haute, Ind.; Martha died in Vincennes, Ind., a few months after her marriage. The mother survived her husband a few months, and died in Danville, Ill., in 1857.

William Jones was a child of six years when he came to America with his mother to join his father in Ohio. He remained under the parental roof during his childhood and youth, and received careful home training, and attended a private school in Springfield. When fifteen years old he commenced working in a blacksmith-shop at Selma, but after a few months proceeded to Danville, Ill., whence, later, he went to Higginsville, but finally returned to Danville, and from there went to Decatur. He possessed natural mechanical talent, and after a short apprenticeship of two years was so skillful and correct in his work that he commanded journeyman's wages. He also became quite a traveler, and visited various places in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Texas. In the latter State he established business near Ft. Graham, on the Brazos River, in 1858. At that time this was on the frontier, and about 225 miles from any railroad station. From there, in 1860, he went to Decatur, Ill., thence, in 1861, to Newburg, and then to Le Roy, and established a blacksmith-shop, which he operated four years, and then removed to Gillespie, in Macoupin County, establishing a shop there also. After eighteen months he returned to Le Roy, and engaged as a machinist in the shops of the I., B. & W. R. R. [ed., Illinois, Bloomington & Western Railroad], where he remained until the spring of 1871. In March of that year he started a blacksmith-shop, and engaged in horse-shoeing and general repairs for four or five years, and then established the machine-shop which he has managed until the present time. He is industrious, energetic and wide-awake, and has uniformly met with success, being now in the enjoyment of a handsome competency.

The marriage of William Jones and Miss Elizabeth Johnson took place in Decatur, Ill., on the 9th of January, 1857. Mrs. Jones was born in Springfield, Sangamon Co., Ill., and is the daughter of Benjamin F. and Elizabeth Johnson, of Kentucky.

Of their union have been born five children, of whom the record is as follows: Emma is the widow of Dr. A. C. Fisk, and lives in Le Roy; John F. married Miss Sallie Allensworth, and lives at Minier, Tazewell County; Charles G. is associated with his father in business; Ada died in infancy; Edith is the youngest, and at home with her parents.

The great-grandfather of Mrs. Jones, Grancier Johnson, was a native of Germany, and came to the United States prior to the Revolutionary War, settling in Old Virginia." He was there married, and became the father of three children James, Stephen and William. Stephen became a Baptist preacher, while the other two followed farming. William, the grandfather of Mrs. Jones, married Miss Tabitha Boller. They reared six children, namely, Sarah, James, Benjamin, Edmund, Younger and Thomas. They removed to Kentucky in 1797, being among the first settlers of the Green River country, where they were neighbors of Daniel Boone, the famous Indian fighter and hunter. The daughter, Sarah, became the wife of Jonathan Broomback, a native of Germany. They came to Illinois in 1835, and settled at the old trading-post, twelve miles east of Decatur, in Macon County, before the Indians had left that part of the country. Both Mr. and Mrs. B. died there, having had one son, James, who married Miss Polly Turpin. He was drowned in the Kentucky River.

Benjamin Johnson, the father of Mrs. Jones, was born in Virginia in 1791, and was six years old when his parents removed to Kentucky. He remained with them until his marriage, in 1816. His wife, formerly Miss Elizabeth Agee, was also a native of the Old Dominion, and the daughter of Adler and Rejoice Agee, the former a native of Ireland. Mr. Johnson followed farming until 1834, but after his removal to Grant County, Ky., engaged in tobacco raising until 1837. He then removed with his family to Illinois, and lived one year at the old trading-post in Macon County. Thence, in 1838, he removed to Decatur, where he purchased a farm and again resumed agriculture until his death. Only three of their ten children are now living Willis, Louisa and Elizabeth (Mrs. Jones.) Willis Johnson was born in Madison County, Ky., in 1820. He came to Illinois with his parents in 1837, and on the 14th of July, 1842, was married to Miss Damaras A. Sinclair. He also engaged in tobacco raising for three years, but is now carrying on a farm near Decatur, Ill. Louisa became the wife of James Abrams, and is also a resident of Decatur, Ill. The grandfathers of Mrs. Jones on both sides served in the Revolutionary War.

Politically our subject is Republican, and socially is a member of Le Roy Lodge No. 221, A. F. & A. M. [ed., Ancient Free and Accepted Masons]. Mrs. Jones is a member in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The family residence is a handsome and tasteful structure, located on the corner of Walnut and Green streets, and Mr. Jones and his family enjoy the friendship and association of the best class of the community.

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), 409. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.


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