WILLIAM B. LAIN, of Dale Township, this county, a prominent and successful farmer and stock-feeder and shipper, is operating successfully on his fine farm located on section 36. He is in all respects a representative man of one of the leading counties of the Prairie State, full of enterprise and energy, and presenting an example worthy of imitation by the rising generation. Mr. Lain is a native of the Blue Grass State, having been born in Madison County, May 28, 1827. His father, John Lain, of Virginia, was born in Albemarle County, and his grandfather, Isham Lain, was also born in Virginia, and descended from English ancestry, his father, the great-grandfather of our subject, having been a native of England, and emigrated to America in the colonial days, settling in Virginia. This latter gentleman was twice married, and the two families amounted to sixteen sons, seven of whom served in the Revolutionary War. The grandfather of  our subject, one of the seven, served under Gen. Washington, and received a pension during the last years of his life. He emigrated from Virginia to Tennessee before the days of carriage roads, making the removal with pack horses. He spent two years at the north fork of Holston River and then removed to Kentucky, following Boone's trail, and settling in that part of the State now included in Madison County. There he purchased a tract of timberland, cleared a farm in the midst of the forest, and established a home where he remained the balance of his life. He departed from the scenes of his earthly labors in 1851, after having arrived at the advanced age of over ninety-six years. The maiden name of his wife was Nancy Lamb. She was a native of Virginia, followed her husband in all his wanderings, and died in Madison County, Ky., at the age of eighty years. Their son, the father of our subject, was born in 1795, and was about nine years old when his parents moved to Kentucky. He there grew to manhood and married Miss Sallie Baker, of Maryland. He purchased land in Madison County, Ky., near his father's homestead, engaged in farming and stockraising, and remained there until his death, which occurred in 1867. His wife died in the same county, Nov. 15, 1885, at the age of eighty-two years. They were most excellent and worthy people and devoted members of the Christian Church.

The parents of our subject had a family of eight children, seven of whom grew to years of maturity. William B., our subject, was the eldest born; Isham G. is a resident of Dale Township; Isaiah lives in Blue Mound Township; Shelton H. and Burgess W. are in Madison County, Ky.; Elizabeth married Thomas R. Todd and died in St. Clair County, Mo.; Nellie B. became the wife of Y. J. Garrett, and died in Madison County, Ky.

William B. Lain was reared in his native county before the day of free schools. His father was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, and fully realized the advantages of education. He accordingly contributed his full share toward the maintenance of a subscription school, and provided for all his children the means of an ordinarily fair education. William B. remained with his parents until he was twenty years old, employing his time alternately in work and study, and then entered a boarding-school in the same county to receive a still further course of instruction. Seven years later he was married and moved to Missouri, settling in St. Clair County, being among the earliest pioneers of that region. He entered a tract of Government land and purchased another tract adjoining, and pursued farming and school teaching in that section until 1857. He then returned to Kentucky and settled in Rockcastle County, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits until 1864, when he sold out and came into McLean County, Ill. He purchased 160 acres of land in Dale Township, which he operated for one year, then went to Shirley in this county with his brother, and purchased a tract of land lying on section 36 in Dale Township. He then located in the town and engaged in trade as before, carrying on a general merchandise business for the following twelve years. In the meantime he purchased the farm which he now owns and occupies, and in 1875 settled upon it and has since made it his home. He has greatly improved the condition of the premises since he first took possession and has brought the land to a fine state of cultivation. He has been greatly prospered in his farming and stock operations and ships annually large numbers of stock to Chicago.

Mr. Lain was married in Rockcastle County, Ky., Sept. 27, 1849, to Miss Ziporah Todd, who was born in that county, Aug. 12, 1832. She comes from an excellent and prominent family, and was the daughter of John and Mary (Heaton) Todd. Her grandfather, William Todd, a native of Maryland, was one of the earliest settlers of Kentucky, and owned the first ox-cart ever brought into Madison County.


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), 277.  Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards. 




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