John A. Tackett
Among the citizens of this county who are most active in promoting its interests are many who were born within its borders, grew with its growth, and since attaining manhood have been potent in increasing its wealth and importance as an agricultural, commercial and manufacturing center, so that to-day it ranks as one of the first counties in Central Illinois in those respects. John A. Tackett, capitalist, is a representative of the class alluded to. He has been a life-long resident of Shelbyville, where his birth occurred September 28, 1832, and for many years he has been prominently associated with the best interests of city and county, using his wealth freely to advance various enterprises that have contributed to their development. He is largely interested in farming and also does a general brokerage business, and all that he undertakes he brings to a successful issue.
He is a son of John Tackett, one of the first settlers of Shelbyville, who was one of the leading pioneers of this part of the country until death deprived his co-workers of his aid in the upbuilding of this section in 1850. He was a native of Prince William County, Va., where he grew to man's estate and married Enfield Mason, a native of Fauquier County, Va., who died at Shelbyville in 1837. Three of their five children were reared: Charles, who died at Shelbyville; William J., a well-known resident of Shelbyville; and John A. of whom this sketch is written. After marriage the father of our subject sought the forest wilds of Kentucky but did not make a permanent home there, as he was attracted to Illinois in 1829, foreseeing that men of his calibre could expend their energies to a good advantage in a country of such splendid but untried resources. He journeyed hither with teams, bringing his household goods and being accompanied by his wife and the two children that then solid and efficient members of the social and industry composed their family. He was among the first to settle on the present site of Shelbyville, where he found but little in the group of small log houses to indicate that the little hamlet was the nucleus of a flourishing and busy town such as is known by those of a later generation.
Mr. Tackett built a hewed log house, which he opened as an inn for the benefit of travelers passing through the town or coming in search of suitable locations, or for other business and it became widely known by the traveling public as "Tackett's Hotel," and its comforts were duly appreciated. There were no railroads here for years after he opened his hotel and all travel was by stage. He added to his buildings. greatly improved his property and continued to keep hotel until his death. He had an extensive acquaintance, was popular and well liked, always friendly and obliging in his relations with all with whom he came in contact, and he was greatly missed in the community.
Our subject having been born in the early days of the settlement of this county, has been a witness of almost its entire growth, and it may well be his pride that he has contributed to its rise and progress since he arrived at the years of discretion. He has a clear and comprehensive knowledge of agriculture and he is superintending his extensive farming interests with marked ability, while at the same time he is conducting a lucrative business as a broker, and from both sources derives a large income. He is one of the wealthy men of his native county and his fellow-citizens always find him ready to co-operate with them in whatever will benefit the public. His name stands high in financial circles, as his integrity in money matters is unimpeachable and he manages his business after sound methods. His personal character is such as to gain him warm esteem among his neighbors and many acquaintances. Socially his relations are with Okaw Lodge, No. 117, I. O. O. F. Mr. Tackett was happily married in 1880 to Miss Flora Cash, who presides gracefully over their attractive home and cordially unites with him in entertaining with pleasant hospitality any of their friends that may happen to enter its doors. They have one daughter doors whom they have named Irma Enfield.
Mrs. Tackett is a native of Westfield, Clark County, Ill., and is a daughter of Henry H. Cash, one of the well-known citizens of that town. Her father was born in Amherst County, Va., and was a son of Reuben Cash, who was a life-long resident of the Old Dominion. Mrs. Tackett's father went from his native State to Kentucky when he was twenty-six years old, and from there came to Clark County, this State, four years later. He settled in Westfield, and in time became one of its leading merchants. He carried on business a number of years, but now lives retired in that town. He married Rebecca Evinger, a native of Kentucky, and they have reared five children - Watson G., Flora N., Rose M., George A. and Henry E.
Mrs. Tackett's grandfather Evinger was born, reared and married in Kentucky, he being a son of one of the early pioneer families of that State. He in turn became a pioneer, coming to Illinois and casting in his lot with the early settlers of Clark County. He became one of its most prominent citizens, and to him belongs the honor of having platted and named the town of Westfield. He erected a set of mills, including grist and carding mills there, but after a few years they were burned and from that time he lived retired from active business until his death at the venerable age of ninety-one years. The maiden name of his wife was Margaret Seabolt. She was a native of Virginia, and went from there to Kentucky with her parents. She came to this State with her husband, and died at Westfield, at the ripe age of eighty four years.[Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
William J. Tackett
The name of Tackett has been borne by some of the most useful citizens of this county from the early days of its settlement, and as an honored representative of that family that has helped to bring this section of Illinois to its present fine condition we are pleased to place on these pages a brief life-record of William J. Tackett, a highly respected resident of Shelbyville. He is a skillful farmer, and has valuable farming interests, which are still under his management, although he has retired to the city. But few of the present citizens of this county have lived in this part of the State as long as our subject, who has spent much of his life here as boy and man for sixty years or more. He is a son of one of the earliest pioneer families of Shelbyville. John and Enfield (Mason) Tackett, and his father for several years kept a hotel in the village in the early years of its history. For further parental history, see the sketch of John A. Tackett on another page of this volume.
William Tackett was born in Bourbon County, Ky., June 11, 1826, the second son of his parents. He was but three years old when they brought him to Illinois in 1829. Shelbyville, where the family set up their new home, was but a hamlet, with a few log habitations, and gave but little intimation that it would become the beautiful city of today. Our subject grew up here under pioneer influences, and watched with interest the growth of the city from day to day, and has witnessed almost the entire development of the surrounding country from a wilderness to a well settled and wealthy county, and he can take pleasure in the thought that he has had a hand in bringing about this wonderful transformation. His education was conducted in the pioneer schools of the city, which were taught in a log house, that had rude furniture of the most primitive sort, the seats being made of slabs, without backs, and with wooden pins for support. That was in the days before the introduction of the free school system, and each family had to pay for the support of the schools according to the number of scholars sent. Mr. Tackett advanced his education by attendance at Hillsboro Academy, and at the age of twenty-one he began to study medicine.
Our subject was smitten by the gold fever after the discovery of the precious metal in California, and he was one of the famous "49ers" to go to that State in search of it. He started with others in the month of March, and made the journey across the plains and mountains with mule teams. The little company of gold seekers saw no white settlers between the Missouri River and the Golden State, except the Mormons at Salt Lake. They encountered deer, antelopes, buffaloes and other wild animals in great numbers in crossing what was then known as the "Great American Desert," and Indians held undisputed sway throughout that desolate region. The train arrived at Sacramento one hundred and ten days after starting from Illinois, and our subject fund that city in the pioneer states of its existence, and among its rude habitations there were but two frame houses.
Mr. Tackett devoted himself to mining awhile, and then handled stock at a large profit the reminder of his stay in California. In February, 1852, he set out on his return home, well satisfied with his experience of life on the frontier. He traveled by the way of the Isthmus to New Orleans, thence by the Mississippi to St. Louis, from there by stage through Vandalia to Shelbyville, and on the 20th of March he found himself once again among the familiar scenes of his boyhood. After his return he practiced medicine for a time, and then turned his attention to the grocery business, which he conducted a few years, but he finally took up the congenial pursuit of farming, and resided on his farm from 1859 to 1866, when he again came to the city to live, and has ever since made his home here. He continues to superintend his farm, however, and has it under a fine condition as to tillage and improvement, it being one of the best in those regards in the locality. Mr. Tackett is a man of much experience, possesses good mental endowments, is public spirited, and is in not ways backward in lending his assistance to all projects that will in any way enhance the prosperity of the city and county, with whose interest he has been identified for so many years.
The pleasant wedded life of Mr. Tackett with miss Mary J. Durkee was entered upon in 1853. It has been blessed to them by the birth of children, of whom they have five, as follows: Edward, a general merchant at Raymond; Mattie, wife of William R. Glen, of Philadelphia; Archie J., a resident of Raymond; Fannie, the widow of Andrew Welch, of Shelbyville; and May, the wife of C. M. Aldrich, of Peoria.
Mrs. Tackett was born in Tippecanoe County, Ind., and is a daughter of David F. and Freelove (Fink) Durkee. Her father was born in Vermont, and was a son of Dr. John Durkee, who was a practicing physician and a pioneer of Tippecanoe County, settling near La Fayette, and engaging in his profession until his death. Mrs. Tackett's father was but a boy when his parents settled in Indiana, and he grew to a stalwart manhood amid its pioneer scenes, and in due time was there married. He lived in that State until 1848, when he came to this county and east in his destiny with the pioneers who had preceded him. He bought a tract of wild land in what is now Pickaway Township, developed a good farm, and resided on it a number of years. He then came to the city to spend his remaining years. His wife died at the home of daughter at Wilmington, Will County, Ill. They reared these six children - George, Celia, John, Edward, James and Mary J. [Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
Prominent in agricultural and church circles is the family represented by our subject, who resides on section 22, Okaw Township, Shelby County. He was born in Bourbon County, Ky., December 10, 1832, being a son of Reuben and Elizabeth (Dazey) Terry, who in 1833 when this son was in his early infancy came to Illinois and settled in Okaw Township.
Reuben Terry, Sr., made his first home in Illinois for a short time with his father-in-law Lemuel Dazey and somewhat later made a settlement on the section which is now the family home, and where he resided until his death which occurred April 2, 1881. He was bereaved of his beloved and faithful companion September 5, 1851. She had been the mother of eleven children, two of whom died in infancy and nine grew to the age of maturity. They were as follows: Mary, now Mrs. Allen Francisco, of Okaw Township; John, who died in Mississippi while traveling for his health: Sarah, who married Alfred Doddy and died in Okaw Township; Vincent, deceased; Reuben, our subject; Lemuel, deceased; Elizabeth, the wife of John A. Fearman; William, who died at the age of sixteen years and George, who lives in Shelbyville. Their mother was an earnest member of the Christian Church and gave to all her children a thorough training in the doctrines and duties of religion.
Our subject, who is the oldest of the living members of his father's family, was reared upon the farm and attended the pioneer schools which were held in the old log cabins, ventilated by large fire places and furnished with rough hewn seats and benches. In August, 1854, he was married to Martha E. Shanks, daughter of John K. and Mildred (Johnson) Shanks. This lady was born in Okaw Township, May 25, 1837, and was of Southern parentage, her father being a native of Delaware and her mother of Virginia.
Mr. and Mrs. Shanks were married in Kentucky in 1831, and came to Illinois about 1835. In early life he had been a shoemaker, but after coming to Okaw Township, he pursued farming as his life work. He was called from earth, July 20, 1855, but his bereaved widow survived until the fall of 1877. Of their six children, Mary Ann married Jacob Jackson and died near Jefferson City, Mo., while removing to Kansas. Elizabeth J. married Smith R. Chapman and resides in Okaw Township. Martha E. is the wife of Mr. Terry. John F. resides in Okaw Township; Lucy C. married C. D. Anders and has been for many years a widow of the Civil War, resident in Shelbyville; David H., who was a member of the Seventh Illinois Cavalry was killed near Nashville, December 15, 1864.
After marriage Mr. Terry purchased forty acres of fine land from his father, upon which he began the independent life of a farmer which he has pursued to the present day. He now owns one hundred and forty acres, on which he has erected good buildings. He and his worthy wife have reared a family of five children: Mary E., wife of Lawson Hendricks; John W., George R., Ella A., wife of William Price; Sue J., wife of J. B. Warthman. During the war Mr. Terry was a Union man and in 1860 he cast his ballot for Stephen A. Douglas. He is now independent in his political views and has served as Supervisor, Justice of the Peace and Road Commissioner. With his excellent wife he is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. [Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
While it is not to be denied that a man is not only the architect of his own fortune, but also the molder and former of his own character, it is nevertheless true that nationality is a mighty factor in the inherent traits and qualities which a man must cultivate or modify. The warm, impulsive races of the South need to tone and strengthen their natural traits by strong principles to which they should unflinchingly adhere. And while the nations of the North are conspicuous for the sturdy integrity of its peoples, their natural sobriety of temperament should be warmed and lighted by the geniality and affability borrowed from the Southern natures. Our subject is descended from a nation noted for strength of character and intellectual depth. The Thomas family are of Scotch and Welsh ancestry. The grandfather of our subject, Joseph Thomas Sr., was born in Scotland. He came to this country after his marriage to a lady whom it seems was of Welsh parentage. Their first settlement in this country was made in the State of Kentucky and there Joseph Thomas, the father of our subject, was born. He was about fourteen years of age when the family left Kentucky, and crossing the Ohio River located in Knox County, Ind., and here the senior Joseph Thomas and wife spent their last years, being old people at the time of their death. It was in Knox County, Ind., that Joseph Thomas, Jr., grew to manhood, reaching his majority in his adopted state. He there married his wife. The lady's maiden name was Mary Chambers. She also was a descendant of a Welsh family who, after the birth of part of their children, settled in Knox County, Ind. After marriage Joseph Thomas and wife removed to Sullivan County when it was new and unbroken. There they preempted a tract of Government land upon which they lived and placed valuable improvements. After a number of years the wife and mother died having attained quite advanced years. Her death took place in Sullivan County. Our subject's father, Joseph Thomas, then came to Illinois and spent his last years in Shelby County. He was ninety years of age when his death occurred. Both he and his wife were attendants on the Baptist Church, of which Mrs. Thomas was a member for long years before her death. They were pioneers well known for their kindliness and hospitality. They located in Sullivan County, Ind., in the wilds and were surrounded by Indians. Game could be gotten in abundance. The original of our sketch is the youngest of fourteen children, there being seven sons and seven daughters. Two of these died while quite young. The other twelve children grew to manhood and womanhood, all marrying and rearing families, with the exception of two sisters. All of the brothers and sisters are now deceased excepting our subject and two other brothers, Calvin and Alexander. The former is a farmer in this township. The latter a farmer in Jasper County, Mo. Our subject was born in Sullivan County, Ind., August 24, 1834. Here he became of age and later removed to this State and was married in Pickaway Township, this county. His wife's maiden name was Malvina Casey. She is a native of Pickaway Township where she was born August 23, 1840. She is a daughter of John and Nancy (Denton) Casey, natives of Kentucky, where Mr. Casey was born in 1813. They were yet young when Mr. and Mrs. Casey came with their parents to this State settling Pickaway Township, Shelby County, when the place was new and unbroken. They purchased a tract of Government land and devoted themselves to improving a farm, but after some years left this place and went to Shelbyville. There the parents of Mrs. Thomas died, aged respectively seventy-two and sixty-eight years. Mr. Casey was a Democrat in politics. For one year he was a member of the State Legislature, sent from Shelby County, and was then elected County Judge, which place he filled for several years. He was also a member of the Board of Supervisors for several terms and Justice of the Peace for many years. He served through the Mexican War as Orderly Sergeant of his company, and saw some hot fire from both sides. He was known in the county as an active worker in the political cause, whether local or national. He had by a former marriage to the one we have mentioned, one child, Jemima. The mother was Mahala Jackson, who died at her child's birth. This daughter is still living.
Mrs. Thomas is the eldest but one of a family of twelve children. Only four, however, are still living. Our subject's wife was reared to woman hood in Pickaway Township, this county. She is an intelligent woman who has been the star of encouragement to her husband in all his undertakings. She and her husband are prominent members of the Baptist Church, of which body Mr. Thomas has been a Deacon for a number of years past. Politically our subject is a Democrat, as was his father who was a soldier in the War of I812, and who fought with Gen. Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe.
He of whom we write and his amiable lady, are the parents of eight children, four of whom are deceased, namely, Halie, and three others who died in infancy. The living children are William R., Mary J., Nancy J. and Clara A. William is his father's able assistant in running the farm and is a promising young man who is highly respected throughout the vicinity. All of the children are intelligent and well educated. Since marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas have lived on their beautiful farm located on section 24, of Flat Branch Township. Here he owns three hundred and twenty acres which is all under cultivation with the exception of ten acres. The place boasts the finest improvements, and a good class of buildings, and the owners are proud of the fact that they have earned all that they possess by their own industry and foresight.[Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
Hon Anthony Thornton, of Shelbyville, Shelby County, ex-Judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois, has distinguished himself on the bench and before the tribunals of this State in the course of a long practice, extending over fifty-five years, and is today one of our foremost lawyers, whose learning, personality and character have added lustre to the bar of this county, and have been potent in raising it to its present high position in the judiciary of this Commonwealth. Judge Thornton is of Southern birth and ancestry, coming of Colonial and Revolutionary stock. He was born on a Kentucky plantation, six miles from Paris, Bourbon County, November 9, 1814. His father, who bore the same name as himself, was born in Caroline County, Va., and was a son of Col. Anthony Thornton, who was also a native of the Old Dominion, his father being a planter and a life-long resident of that State. Col. Thornton took an active part in the Revolution as Colonel of a body of Virginia State Militia, and his commission, which has given him by Patrick Henry, is now in the possession of our subject. Animated by a spirit of adventure, and a desire to avail himself of the superior advantages possessed by the virgin soil of Kentucky, in 1803 the grandfather of our subject pushed forward to the frontier, taking with him his family and his slaves, the latter about a hundred in number, and journeying to the new home across the mountains with teams. His daughter kept a journal, giving the details of each day's journey, and the original manuscript is now in the Judge's possession. For a time after their arrival in the wilds of Kentucky the family lived in Nicholas County, and then the father of our Colonel bought a large tract of land in Bourbon and Harrison Counties, and in the dwelling that he erected in the latter county his remaining years were passed until his death.
The father of our subject was reared and married in Virginia, and subsequently accompanied his parents and other members of the family in their exodus to the forest wilds of Kentucky. He purchased a tract of partly improved land on Cane Ridge, six miles from Paris, and gave his attention to agriculture, carrying on his farming operations with slave labor. His life was brought to an untimely end when scarcely past its prime, his death occurring on his plantation in the year 1819. His wife survived him only six months, and then she too closed her eyes in that dreamless sleep that knows no waking. She was also a native of Virginia, and her maiden name was Mary Towles. Thus sadly bereft of a mother's and father's care when he was but five years of age, our subject went to live with his paternal grandparents, who reared him tenderly, and he was given every advantage to obtain a liberal education. He first attended the common schools, which were taught on the subscription plan, and at the age of sixteen was sent to Gallatin, Tenn., to pursue his studies at the High School of that town. From there he went to Danville, and for a time was a student at Centre College. He next entered Oxford College, Oxford, Ohio, and so far was he advanced he was enrolled as a member of the junior class of that institution, and was graduated with a high standing for scholarship in the September Class of '34.
After leaving college our subject entered upon his preparation for the legal profession under the instruction of his uncle John R. Thornton, of Paris, Ky., and in 1836 he was examined before the court of appeals by Judge James Robertson and Judge Marshall, and was admitted to the bar. In the fall of the same year he started Westward with the intention of settling in Missouri, and while on his way came to this county to visit Gen. Thornton, traveling by the most expeditious route at that time, which was by the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Meredosia, thence by stage through Springfield to Shelbyville. He found here but a small village of about two hundred people, living for the most part in log houses, while the surrounding country was but little settled, and the land was nearly all owned by the Government. With characteristic acumen the Judge soon perceived that here was a fine field for legal talent, and he decided to tarry here, and enter upon his professional career amid its pioneer scenes. Accordingly he opened an office in the village, and as he became known and his ability was recognized, clients began to pour in upon him, and his business steadily grew with the growth of the county, justifying his anticipations of a good practice when he selected this location for a future home.
In 1848 Judge Thornton entered the political arena as a member of the State Constitutional Convention that met that year to revise the Constitution of Illinois, and his legal equipment made his services valuable in the work of revision performed by the members of that convention. In 1850 he was elected to the State Legislature on the Whig ticket, and again he played an important part as a member of that most important of all committees during that session, the one that had charge of railroad legislation, as then the principal railroads of the State were organized and their routes defined. In 1864 the Judge was elected to Congress, served throughout two sessions, displaying in his career as a national legislator broad statesmanship, and so thoroughly satisfying his constituents that they paid him the compliment of re-nominating him to succeed himself. Then was presented the spectacle, rather rare in these days of the multifarious seekers after high places, of a man resolutely declining a proffered office, together with its honors and emoluments. Our subject's refusal to make the race again was actuated by his desire to retire from political life, and to resume once more his beloved profession. In 1870 he was elected to the Supreme Bench, a position for which he was eminently fitted by experience, by his wide and extensive knowledge of law, and by the possession of masterly judicial qualities. He administered justice vigorously, equitably, and with a clear discernment of the merits of each case that came under his jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the honor of being at the head of the Supreme Court of Illinois, Judge Thornton preferred his old place before the bar as an attorney, and in 1873 his resignation of the judgeship was tendered, an act unparalleled in the annals of the judiciary of this State, and was received with regret, his retirement from the high office he so adorned, and where he so ably conserved the ends of justice, being considered a loss to the bench. Since that time he has attended strictly to his law business, and devotes himself. heart and soul to the interests of his extensive clientage.
The Judge is a man of strong nature, of a fine physique and distinguished presence, is popular with all classes, and has a firm hold upon the hearts of the people among whom the most active years of his life have been passed, and who delight to do him honor. He is seen at the best advantage amid the pleasant surroundings of his attractive home as a genial and courteous host, a devoted husband and indulgent father. He has been twice married. In 1850 he was wedded to Miss Mildred Thornton, a native of Virginia, and a daughter of William F. and Ann Thornton. Their married life was brief, as the young wife died in 1856, leaving two children, William T. and Anthony, the latter of whom is dead. In 1866 our subject was united in marriage to Miss Kate H. Smith, a native of this county, and a daughter of Addison and Mary Smith. Two children have been born of this union, Catherine P. and Lewis. [Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois. . . ." Published by Biographical Publishing Co., 1891, tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
The Towles Family, of Henderson, Ky., and their connections who settled in the Lower Ohio Valley, are descendants of one of the oldest families in America. The record extends back to Henry Towles, who came from Liver pool, England, and settled in Accomac County, Va., about the middle of the seventeenth century. He married Ann Stokely and to this union there were born two sons, Stokely and Henry. Stokely settled in Middlesex County, and Henry, who was born in 1670, settled in 1711, in Lancaster County, at the junction of the Rappahannock and Corotoman rivers, the place still being known as Towles' Point, and now in the possession of his descendants. He married Hannah Therrott, and died in 1734, leaving one son and four daughters, viz: Stokely, Judith, Ann, Elizabeth and Jan. Stokely was born in 1711, and died in 1755. After the death of his parents he continued to live at Towles' Point, and married Catherine, daughter of Thomas Martin, of Corotoman, Lancaster County. The children of Stokely and Catherine Towles were: Henry, Thomas, Stokely and three daughters, Mrs. Dick, Mrs. Reevely and Mrs. Payne. Henry, the eldest son, was born in 1738 and became closely connected with the history of Virginia during the Revolution; a member of the House of Delegates in 1783; a member of the Virginia convention in 1788; county lieutenant in 1794; and clerk of Lancaster county until his death in 1799. Stokely, the second son, went to Goochland County, where he was a major in the militia during the Revolution. After the war he removed to Spottsylvania. His wife was Elizabeth, the third child of William Downman. Thomas, the third son, was born at Towles' Point, Feb. 21, 1750, and died at Millbrook, Spottsylvania County, May 22, 1800. At the commencement of the Revolution he was quartermaster to the Caroline County battalion of militia, and later in life held the rank of colonel. In 1783 he represented Spootsylvania County in the House of Delegates. He married Mary, daughter of John Morris and Mary (Chew) Smith, of Richahock, King and Queen County. The children born to this marriage were Elizabeth, Mary Smith, John, Thomas, Therit, Oliver, Ann, Larkin, and Frances. Elizabeth first married William Brock, son of Joseph Brock, and after his death Capt. Phil. Slaughter. They were the parents of Rev. Philip Slaughter, a distinguished minister of the Episcopal Church, and author of numerous works on church history and genealogy. Mary Smith married Anthony Thornton and settled in Bourbon County, Ky. One of their sons, Anthony, afterward went to Shelby County, Ill., where he became a distinguished lawyer, represented the county in the legislature, and served on the bench in the highest court of the state. John settled in Louisiana and became a sugar planter. He was twice married: first to Susan Trunbull, and second to Ann Alexandria Conrad, of Virginia. Thomas was born at Millbrook, Va., June 1, 1784. In the spring of 1806 he removed to Henderson, Ky. Before leaving Virginia he was granted license to practice law in the courts of the state. His certificate is dated Dec. 5, 1805, and is signed by Peter Lyons, Spencer Roane, and Francis Brooke, all prominent men in their day. After settling in Kentucky he practiced in the counties of Henderson, Christian, Logan, and Ohio, and was contemporary with John J. Crittenden, Christopher Tompkins, George M. Bibb, and other eminent lawyers, when the court was presided over by Judge Henry Broadnax. He was appointed one of the justices of the Territory of Illinois, which was approved by the United States senate, and he took the oath of office before Ninian Edwards, governor of the territory, March 2, 1816. From 1821 and 1824 he represented Henderson County in the state legislature, and was magistrate for twenty consecutive years. In politics he was an uncompromising Whig, and Old Court man and was for many years prominent in all the affairs of the county. In fact a complete biography of Judge Towles would be a fairly good history of Henderson County in his time, as he was a successful lawyer with a large practice. In religion he was an earnest churchman. Bishop B.B. Smith in his account of the Kentucky church says his greatest troubles were over when he gained the support of several men as Thomas Towles of Henderson. In 1809 he was married to Anny Taylor Hopkins, daughter of Gen. Samuel Hopkins, of Revolutionary fame, and by this marriage had one son, Thomas Towles, Jr., who became widely know throughout the state, both for his legal lore and his spontaneous wit. His toast to water was: "It is valuable for navigation and for its mixable qualities." He served several terms in the Kentucky legislature. After the death of his first wife, Judge Towles, on April 23, 1816, was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Walter and Amelia (Johnston) Alves, and granddaughter of James Hogg, who was sent by the Transylvania Company to Philadelphia, an "embassy" to the continental Congress, in January, 1776, to solicit the privilege of forming the fourteenth colony to gain independence. (American Archives, Vol. IV., and Filson club publications by George Ranack, page 224.) Her parents came to Kentucky in 1813 from Chapel Hill, Orange county, N.C., and were the representatives and descendant of two of the original member (James Hogg and William Johnston) of the Transylvania or Richard Henderson Land Company. To this marriage several children were born, only three of whom—Walter Alves, John James, and Bettie—lived to maturity. Judge Towles finally retired from the practice of lawn and became a successful planter. He died Dec. 12, 1850, and his second wife on June 28, 1852. Walter A. Towles was born Feb. 2, 1825. On Feb. 12, 1854, he married Susan Daniel Anderson, who was born on Feb. 26, 1834. In this marriage there were born the following children: John Anderson, Lucy Marshall, Elizabeth Alves, Sue Starling, Walter A., Jr., Lillia, Mary Lucy, William and Therit. He has been commissioner for Atkinson Park, for the city of Henderson since 1894. John James, the second son, was born Jan. 22, 1827, and on March 13, 1851, married Louisa Alves. Their children were Minna, Florence, Louisa, John J. and Stokely. Bettie married William T. Barret, May 9, 1850, and their issue was William, Thomas, Strachan and Betty. Henry, son of Col. Thomas Towles, of Virginia, was born June 24, 1786; came to Bourbon County, Ky., and died near Ruddle's Mills in 1854. He joined Capt. William Garrard's company of mounted men, in Maj. James V. Ball's squadron, and was at the siege of Fort Meigs in the war of 1812. He married Sally Bedford and left one son, Larkin S., who married Mildred Gass, of Paris, Ky., removed to Missouri and died there. Frances, the youngest child, came to Henderson, married John H. Sublett, a native of Richmond Va., and bore him the following children: Mary S., Ann, Fanny, Hannah More, John W., and Conrad Speece. ["Memoirs of The Lower Ohio valley: Personal and Genealogical", Vol. 2 By Federal Publishing Company, 1905 -- Transcribed by GT Transcription Team]
James S. Travis
James S. Travis came to this county in the vigor of early manhood more than thirty years ago, and shortly afterward bought an unattractive piece of wild prairie land in Penn Township. He bent his whole energies to the pioneer task of improving it, and today has a well-developed farm, finely cultivated, amply supplied with substantial buildings, and comparing in every point with the best in the neighborhood.
Franklin Township, Huntingdon County, Pa., is the birthplace of our subject, and August 28, 1834, the date of his birth. He comes of one of the old colonial families of the Keystone State, and is a son of James Travis, Esq., who was a native of the same county as himself. His father was also a native of Pennsylvania while the great-grandfather of our subject was born in Wales. He came to this country before the Revolution, and settled among the pioneers of Pennsylvania. The grandfather of our subject was an early settler of Huntingdon County, where he bought a tract of land in the primeval forests and cleared a farm from the surrounding wilderness, which he made his home until his mortal career was closed in death. He married Elizabeth Grey, who was likewise a Pennsylvanian by birth, and she also died on the old farm in her native State. Both were members of the Presbyterian Church, and the old grandfather was a Whig in politics. The father of our subject was an only child, and on the old homestead that he inherited his whole life was passed, and there death found him February 7, 1851. He married Nancy Thompson, a native of Pennsylvania, and a daughter of George and Isabella (Gardner) Thompson. She survived him many years, dying at last at a venerable age on the old farm in 1872. Both were faithful members of the Presbyterian Church and the father was a stanch support of the Whig party. He was a prominent man in his community, and for several years served as Justice of the Peace.
James Travis, of this biographical review was one of seven children, and he was reared under wholesome home influences in his native place, and was educated in the local schools. In his nineteenth year, he became an apprentice to J. W. Jones, a carpenter, of Tyrone City, Blair County, Pa., and he was with him three years. During that time he acquired a thorough knowledge of carpentering, and at the end of that time did journey work three years. Then, in 1859, he came to Shelby County from his native State, and in 1860 invested in a tract of unimproved prairie in Penn Township. He has transformed it from a wilderness to a highly cultivated farm, which is an attractive home, with its neat buildings and with the fruit, shade and ornamental trees planted by his own hand that adorn the place.
Mr. Travis has been aided in the making of his home by a wife who is a true helpmate in every sense of the word. Their married life began in 1858, and in the years that followed children were born to them, of whom they have six living, as follows: Adda, wife of Isaac Osborne; Nancy E., wife of Hiram Hammel; Emma L.; Clyde E., Lyda and Carrie E. Their son William H. is dead. The family is highly thought of in the community, and Mr. Travis and four of the children are members of the Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Travis is native of the same Pennsylvania township as her husband. Her maiden name was Catherine E. Crain, and she is a daughter of Henry and Eliza Crain. [Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
William F. Tull
William F. Tull, one of the oldest residents, and one of those most worthy of honor in Windsor Township, Shelby County, resides on section 20, and was born in Bedford County, Tenn., January 9, 1819. His parents were Daniel and Sallie (Baw) Tull, both natives of North Carolina, who married there and soon after returned to Tennessee, where they remained until 1829. At this time they emigrated to Illinois, and settled in Shelby County. Our subject was the eighth in a family of nine, and all are deceased except this son and his brother, Nathan F., who resides in the village of Windsor.
Mr. Tull was but a lad of eleven years when his parents located in Shelby County, yet he has a vivid recollection of the trip across the country, with a six-horse team, and often recalls the wild and unimproved condition of the country and the sparsely peopled sections through which they traveled. Shelbyville, now a promising city of five thousand inhabitants, was then a little trading post, composed of a few log shanties.
In the fall of 1838 this young man (then only nineteen years old) took to himself a wife in the person of Miss Hannah Davis, who was also a native of East Tennessee, where she was born December 27, 1821. Her parents, like his, came to Shelby County in the early days, and located in Windsor Township in 1828, and there spent the remainder of their lives. That young couple in due time became the parents of a truly patriarchal flock, fifteen children being born to them.
The seven children who are still living are as follows: Sallie, Mrs. Cane, now fifty-one years old, and lives in this township; Josiah has been a cripple since he was eighteen months old, and has always been cared for by his parents; Harriet is unmarried and lives at home; Catherine, now Mrs. Moobery, lives in this township, as does also Jonathan, who is married; James and Nathan F. are at home and unmarried, and working on the old homestead, although they have both reached mature years.
This beautiful old couple have enjoyed each other's society in wedded life for over fifty-two years, and both give promise of many more years of health and cheer. They speak in the highest terms of the filial affection and obedience of their children, with whom they have never had an unpleasant or discordant word. Mr. Tull has been a life-long Democrat, and has ever been a recognized leader in his township. His middle name is Forrest as he was named for the father of the noted Confederate General, that general being a playmate of Mr. Tull's. For many years this couple were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but at the time of the division of that body during the war, they withdrew and joined the Christian Union Church.[Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
James L. B. Turner
Farm life on the Illinois Prairie! To the writer the very thought is a poem, and the mind instantly clothes it in the words that Longfellow has used in so exquisitely describing the prairies in the beautiful poem, "Evangeline." If it is a life of toil, that of the farmer, it is also one of beauty, for even the black loam overturned by the plow has a fragrance of its own in the early spring-time that fills the heart with gladness, and makes the laborer conscious of an exaltation and a nearness to Divinity, that one gets in no other occupation.
He of whom we write belonged to the class of agriculturists, who inspire with each breath, a sense of freedom and elevation. He was a farmer born and bred. His father was thus engaged before him. James Turner, Sr., our subject's father, was born in Buckingham County, Va., in 1790, and his mother, Elsie (Pendleton) Turner, was a native of Buckingham County, Va., and was born about 1795. After marriage they settled in the county in which their wedding took place, and after various changes of location, they came to Illinois and settled in Effingham County, in 1830.
James and Elsie Turner were the parents of eleven children of whom our subject was the third in order of birth. He was born in Wilson County, Tenn., October 21, 1824. He was six years of age when his parents emigrated to this State, and his youth and early manhood was spent in Effingham County. He made his home under the paternal roof until twenty-three years of age when he was married in Shelby County, Ill., October 24, 1847, to Hannah E. Poe. Mrs. Turner's father was James F. Poe, who was born in Franklin County, Tenn., about 1802. Her mother's maiden name was Hannah Parks. She was born also, in Franklin County, Tenn., about 1807. After marriage they settled in their native county, where the wife died November 23, 1829. Mrs. Hannah E. Turner was the only child, being born the same day that her mother died. Her father came to Shelby County and settled in Richland Township in the spring of 1830, and continued to be a resident of the county until his death, which took place on his own farm in Ash Grove Township, October 18, 1838. After his wife's death, Mr. Poe was for a second time married, his wedding being celebrated in Tennessee, in 1830. His third wife was Mrs. Rebecca (Miller) Elliott, by whom he became the father of four children, whose names are respectively, Franklin, Amanda M., George and Ann, and an infant killed by being thrown from a wagon. Mrs. Rebecca Poe, was, after the death of her second husband, united to Charles Loomis. Her death took place in Tazewell County, Ill. After the marriage of our subject he settled with his bride on a portion of the farm that was formerly owned by her father. It was located in Richland Township, between Richland and Ash Grove Townships. They there resided from February, 1848, until April, 1891, when they removed to Windsor, where he died August 31, 1891. He was the owner of between six and seven hundred acres of finely improved land. Four children have been born to Mr. Turner and his wife. They are James L., William W., George R., Zinnette M. The last named is the wife of G. F. Schlack.
His second son, William W. died in 1875 at the age of twenty-four years. The original of our sketch has held many of the most important offices in the township. He has been Supervisor of Richland, and also Assessor and Collector. He was independent in politics. Since 1882, our subject and his wife have been connected prominently with the Universalist Church. He of whom we write was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and had been thus connected since early in the 1860's. James L. married Grace A. Smith; William W. married Laura B. Smith; George R. took to wife Mary Ann Curry.
James L. B. Turner held an enviable position in the respect and confidence that he had among the people with whom he has been connected in business or in a social way. He was a Christian and a gentleman in every sense of the word, and although having reached quite an advanced age, he was progressive and interested in every measure that promised to be for the welfare of the community of which he was a part.[Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
James T. Turner
We are pleased to record among other prominent and prosperous farmers of Shelby County, a brief sketch of the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this paragraph, whose pleasant home and attractive farm are an ornament to section 7, Oconee Township. He was born in Robinson County, Tenn., August 28, 1840. His parents, Charles and Susan (Price) Turner, natives of Virginia, early became residents of North Carolina, and finally settled in Tennessee, where they were married and long made their home. All of their family of nine children were born in Tennessee or across the line in Kentucky. The family of Charles Turner and Susan, his wife, are as follows: John H., who married and engaged in farming in Fayette County, Ill..; Nancy E., who married Thomas Hill and died in 1854, in Montgomery County, Ill.; Susan C., who became Mrs. R. B. Evans, and died in 1869; Avy J. was twice married. Her first husband being George W. Ishmael, who enlisted in the Seventy-third Illinois infantry and died of small-pox at Memphis. Her second husband, James Slater, is a merchant in Oconee. The sketch of his life will be found elsewhere in this volume. Warren enlisted in Company G, Fifth Illinois Cavalry in 1863. He married Anna Poland. William K. and James T. were also members of the same company; they having enlisted in the year of 1861, the former married Emma Lamar. They were quartered at Camp Butler, Springfield, from September, 1861, until February. 1862. This regiment was known as an independent cavalry organization and was not assigned to any department but took part in almost every campaign. The regiment did patrol duty along the Mississippi River, guarding trains, chasing and fighting guerrillas and bushwhackers and also doing garrison duty. 1t participated in the siege and capture of Vicksburg and accompanied the victorious army in pursuit of the rebel Gen. Johnston.
Soon after this our subject was discharged on account of disabilities as be contracted the measles and not having proper care and being exposed to the inclemency of the weather, the disease settled in his eyes, so that he finally lost one and the other is much injured. The other two brothers passed through the war without serious detriment. The Fifth Cavalry went to Memphis and finally to Texas under command of Gen. Custer. Charles S. Turner enlisted in the spring of 1864 in the One Hundred and Forty-third Illinois Infantry, and served one hundred days. After returning home be learned the carpenter's trade and remained at home with his parents until their death, the father passed away February 4, 1885, at the age of eighty one years and the mother dying January 12,1888, being seventy-eight years old. Charles then felt relieved from further responsibility and starting in life for himself, went to St. Louis, where he carries on the carpenter trade. Amanda W. married F. P. Vest. Her home is in St. Louis and she has one daughter.
After James T. Turner returned from the war he engaged in farming. His marriage with Miss Kate McLaury took place September 9, 1866. This lady was one of a family of four sons and three daughters, children of John F. and Margaret M. (Humphrey) McLaury, and was born in Mercer County, Pa., August 24. 1845. Mr. McLaury was a native of Pennsylvania and his wife of the Empire State. Mrs. Turner's brothers and sisters are Thomas F. Jr., Calvin B., James A., William A., Margaret and Alice, all of whom are living except James A., and all the survivors are married. Thomas F., William A., and Alice (Mrs. Wylie), are residents of the Lone Star State, while Calvin B. resides in Missouri and Margaret (Mrs. Wilie), in Tennessee. Mrs. Turner's family removed to Illinois in the fall of 1845, and located in Montgomery County. They removed to Texas before the death of the mother and when last heard from the father was in Arkansas.
The Turner family removed from Tennessee to Fayette County. Ill., in 1818, and soon after removed to Montgomery County and finally made their home in Oconee Township, Shelby County, where the parents died as has been previously stated. Our subject was educated in the public schools of Illinois and has been a farmer all his life time. For six or seven years he was engaged in the hay business, buying, bailing and shipping hay, to Eastern and Southern cities.
To Mr. and Mrs. Turner have been born five children, all of whom are living, namely: Lena E., born June 8, 1867, married George W. Hinton a merchant at Assumption, Ill. Charles Franklin, who was born May 11, 1869, now resides with his wife, Flora March, on his father's farm in Oconee Township. Gladys was born June 9, 1875, and is still attending school and qualifying herself for the profession of a teacher. James E., born April 30, 1878, and Maggie B., December 17, 1881, are attending school and studying music as well as well as making themselves generally useful in the home and upon the farm. Mr. Turner has always been a staunch Republican and ever takes an interest in political and public affairs. Mrs. Turner, her son Frank and daughter Gladys are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Frank, Gladys and James are members of the Independent Order of Good Templars. Mr. Turner is a worthy member of Coplin Post, No. 268, G. A. R. of Oconee and is the present Junior Vice Commander. Besides giving attention to general farming he raises a good grade of stock.[Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
Lorenzo H. Turner
The majority of men who have attained high position either in public affairs, commercial life, or literature, have spent the early part of life in the enjoyment of bucolic peace and quiet. The mind is like a field, which having been allowed to lie fallow for a time produces the riches harvests. Our subject, Lorenzo Turner, who was brought up on a farm has become one of the most influential men in the State of Illinois, and in mental caliber he ranks well with the representatives of any State. The years passed upon his father's farm were full of development to the lad whose eager mind absorbed each fact, and in the crucible of his reasoning powers he has distilled the pure waters of truth. Early acquiring the habit of studying human nature, he has found it to be of great use to him throughout his career. Men to him are as open books, to be read at pleasure.
Born of southern parents, our subject inherits the suavity and gallantry for which the Virginians are noted, and also their eloquence in speech. His father, James Turner, was born in Buckingham County, Va., in 1799. His mother was Elsie (Pendleton) Turner, also a native of Buckingham County, and born about 1795. There they were reared and there they married, settling in their native county, but about four years after their marriage they emigrated to Wilson county, Tenn. This was about 1823, and in 1830 they came to Effingham County where they died on the place which they had entered from the Government.
Our subject was born while his parent were residents of Wilson County, Tenn., his natal day Being May 14, 1826. He was only four and a half years old when his parents removed to what is now Effingham County; there on his father's farm he matured, his young mentality growing broader and stronger as he looked out upon the vast prairies. There was plenty of work, however, for the young man to do, for the days of his boyhood were the pioneer days in this State. He, with others who have since become famous in the history of the State, were ripening for the event that lay before them. He continued to live with his father until 1845. After having entered a farm from the Government, which they improved quite extensively, they both died, the mother in the fall of 1858 while the earth was golden with the yellow of autumn, and the granaries were filled to repletion with golden grain. The father followed her a good many years later, his decease taking place February 3, 1888.
Our subject has always followed the pursuit of agriculture, paying special attention to the raising of fine stock. In 1845 he was married to Miss Cynthia Field, their marriage being solemnized September 23 of that year. The lady was a daughter of Abraham and Grace (Rainey) Field. The former was native of Kentucky where he was born December 27, 1793. The later was born in South Carolina, July 31, 1797. Their marriage took place in Gibson County, Ind., March 8, 1815. They settled in the same place where they were married until the mother's death which occurred March 30, 1863. The father followed her April 12, 1870. Mrs. Turner's parents were farmers by occupation. They had ten children, and our subject's wife was one of the eldest members of her father's family. She was born in Gibson County, Ind., December 25, 1825, and there she lived until her marriage.
After marriage our subject and his bride settled in Effingham County, Ill., and in April, 1864, came to Shelby County, locating in Richland Township, where he has since resided. He has now retired, however from active farming, having disposed of all his property with the exception of two hundred and fifty acres upon which he lives. Mr. Turner has made many improvements upon his farm and in all his business undertakings and enterprises has been exceedingly successful. He and his wife are spending the afternoon of their lives in quiet enjoyment of the home comforts that he early efforts have provided. They are the parents of six children, all of whom have reached manhood and womanhood and are the heads of families. It is a commentary upon their parents' government that they are all honored and respected members of society. James B. married Emeline Renner and resides in Shelbyville; Nancy J. is the wife of John M. Storm; Lewis W. married Florence Carmain; Charles A. B. was united to Sarah Jackson; Sarah E. is the wife of Seymour Grove; Arthur is the husband of Annie L. Field.
Mr. Turner was formerly allied with the Democratic party and did active service for his party in his part of the State. More recently, however, he has allied himself with the Prohibitionists, believing that to be one of the most important issues of the near future. He has held the office of Justice of the Peace for seventeen years and has also been Township Trustee for several years. In their religious relations our subject and his wife have been members of the Missionary Baptist Church since 1854, and he of whom we write has been Deacon of this church for upwards of thirty-five years. Their children also are all professors of religion. Mr. Turner has been a member of the Masonic fraternity since 1863. He is also a member of the Farmer's Mutual Benefit Association and by his wide experience and broad intelligence, is able to make many suggestions to that body that are of great value. The original of our sketch has a very good and comfortable residence, well located and surrounded by fine trees. It is perfectly adapted to the declining years of man with a philosophic turn of mind. [Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois..."; Chicago Biographical Publishing Co., 1891; tr. by G.T. Transcription Team]
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