FRANCIS A. RAWLINGS, of Belleflower Township, is a native of the Prairie State, born near Petersburg, Menard
County, Dec. 14, 1849. His father, John E. Rawlings, was born in Fleming County, Ky., Oct. 18, 1810, and was the
son of Thomas Rawlings, a native of Loudoun County, Va., and the son of Presley Rawlings.
The latter was born in England, whence he emigrated to America when a young man, accompanied by his brother Moses. They located in Virginia and afterward served as soldiers in the Revolutionary War, fighting in the interests of the colonies.
Moses was never heard from after the war was over. Presley Rawlings settled in Kentucky, being among the earliest pioneers of the Blue Grass State. He purchased a tract of timber land and opened up a farm, where he spent the remainder of his days. His son, Thomas, the grandfather of our subject, and the eldest of seven children, after attaining to manhood, married Miss Mary Triby, who was born in Virginia but of Kentucky parentage. She inherited a tract of land adjoining her father's homestead, together with four slaves, and lived there with her husband the remainder of her life.
They became the parents of nine children, of whom John, the father of our subject, was the youngest. At that time there were no free schools and the education of John E. Rawlings was obtained on the subscription plan. The temple of learning was a rude structure built of logs, into which light was admitted through panes of greased paper.
John E. Rawlings assisted his father in establishing a homestead in the wilderness and cultivating the soil, remaining under the home roof until twenty-two years old. He then farmed in partnership with his brother-in-law for two years, when he was married and operated on rented land until 1837. In March of that year he made the journey to Illinois, via the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, landing at Beardstown. He first proceeded to that part of Sangamon County included in Menard County, and purchased a farm three miles above Petersburg, on the Sangamon River. This he occupied until 1850, then removed to Waverly, Morgan Co., Ill., where he opened a store of general merchandise.
Two years later, on account of cholera, he sold out and returned to his farm in Menard County. From there he removed to Sweet Water, after selling his farm, and operated upon rented land until 1859. That year he came to this county and purchased a farm in Mt. Hope Township, which he occupied until 1862, then removed to the town of McLean and began to deal in grain and agricultural implements. He was thus occupied until 1873, when he purchased and removed to the homestead which he now owns and occupies.
Mr. Rawlings was married on the 16th of January, 1834, to Miss Polly Scott, a native of Tennessee, born May 31, 1812, and the daughter of John and Jane (Campbell) Scott. This lady died at the home of her husband in Belleflower Township, on the 19th of January, 1878.
Mr. Rawlings was married the second time, Sept. 22, 1881, to Mrs. Rebecca (Day) Robbins, who was born near Springfield, Ill., March 20, 1820. Her father, Benjamin S. Day, was a native of Virginia, and removed to Kentucky when a young man, where he married, and came to Illinois in 1818, the year in which the Territory was transferred into a State.
Mr. Day was among the earliest settlers of Sangamon County, His daughter, Rebecca, remained under the parental roof until her first marriage in March, 1836, to Daniel Robbins. He was County Judge of De Witt County eight years and Postmaster of Clinton twelve years. He departed this life in De Witt County in about 1871.
The children of Mr. Rawlings are recorded as follows: Austin is engaged in mercantile business at Kumber, this county; Minnie became the wife of R. W. Robinson of De Witt County; John F. lives in Farmer City, Ill. Mrs. R. by her first marriage became the mother of five children; a son, Francis K., who is a resident of Wellington, Kan., is the only one living.
Francis A. Rawlings was but ten years old when he came to McLean County with his parents, and has been a resident here since that time. He received a good education, and in 1870 came to his father's farm in Belleflower Township, which he has occupied since that time. He makes his home with his parents.
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), 707. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.