Hamilton County
1887 County History

The following is a transcription of the Hamilton County biographical appendix of The History of Gallatin, Saline, Hamilton, Franklin, and Williamson Counties, Illinois (Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1887).



     Maj. John T. Anderson, farmer, was born in 1836 in Hamilton County, the second of seven children of Edmund and Nancy (Turrentine) Anderson.  The father, born in Union County, Ky., about 1812, and of Scotch origin, was the son of John Anderson, born in Virginia, about 1781, and who at fourteen removed to Tennessee with his parents.  In 1818, John, Sr., having been married in Kentucky, located on the site of the McLeansboro fair ground, and assisted in laying out the town and roads, and organizing the county.  Hamilton County's first court was held in his house.  He served as deputy sheriff, and was elected coroner in 1830, receiving his commission from ex-Gov. Edwards.  He was a farmer.  Four of his eight children are living, all in Hamilton County.  He died in 1873, and his wife in 1846.  Edmund was married in Hamilton County when twenty-one, was always a farmer near McLeansboro, and died in 1864.  His wife, born about 1813 in Alabama, died in about 1870, a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  Our subject alternated teaching and educating himself, finishing at Princeton, Ky., after he was of age.  In 1862 he married Mary, daughter of James and Sarah Barnett, native of Tennessee.  Their child is James E.  She died in 1863, and in December, 1866, he married Martha E., daughter of Hillery and Sarah Patrick.  Their children are Charles L., Flora B., C. Hillery, Walter and Harry.  In August, 1862, he resigned his surveyorship, to which he had been elected in 1860, and enlisted in Company A, Eighty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, was made captain, and in 1864 major. <pg. 672>  After eighteen months in the regular, he was afterward in the mounted infantry, at Vicksburg and all through the Red River Campaign.  After three years' service he returned to farming and stock raising.  Since 1866 he has been a resident of his present farm.  He owns 275 acres of choice land near McLeansboro.  He has been for many years a member of the school board, is an Odd Fellow, and he and his wife are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  Formerly a Democrat, voting for Douglas, he has since been a Republican.


     Hierom Atchisson, farmer and miner, was born in Hamilton County in 1834, on the place where he now resides.  He is one of nine children of Joseph T. and Margaret W. Hopper.  The father, born in Port Tobacco, Md., in 1789, was in the war of 1812, after which he came to, what was then Gallatin County, then in 1819 to Hamilton County.  In 1863 he entered mercantile life, which he continued until his death in 1864 in Lynchburg, Ill.  The mother, born in 1798 in North Carolina, came to Jefferson County, Ill., in 1816 with her parents, and in 1849 died in Hamilton County.  Educated in Hamilton County, our subject began mining in California.  He continued about eight years, when on September 19, he enlisted in Company I, Fourth Cavalry Volunteer Infantry, and was honorably discharged October 31, 1864, in Arizona.  He remained there until 1869, engaged as government contractor in merchandise and mining, and then he returned to the old homestead and married Marietta, daughter of Isaac and Sarah E. Richardson, born in 1850, in Hamilton County.  She died in 1884.  Five of their seven children are living: Charles Harvey, Ada, Mary, Edgar, Sarah and Hiram are the names of all.  After his wife's death, he was with his brother in Arizona in mining and merchandise for two years, when he returned home and married Eveline, daughter of Barton and Perlina Atchison. <pg. 673>  He has a fine home of 400 acres seven miles west of the county seat. In politics he is a Republican, voting first for Buchanan.  He is a member of the F. & A. M. G. A. R. and F. M. B. A.  His wife is a member of the Missionary Baptist Church.


Asher & Ledbetter, general merchants, McLeansboro, established their present firm in November, 1880, and have since sucsessfully conducted it, carrying a large and well selected stock of staple and fancy goods, dry goods, clothing, shoes, hats, queensware, groceries, etc., and also handle a full line of wagons and plows, are agents for Blount's plows and wagons, with which they are having a large trade.  They control a large share of city and county trade.  John C. Asher was born in Crittenden County, Ky., December 11, 1850, the son of William W., and Narcissus (Nichols) Asher, both natives of Kentucky.  He was reared in Kentucky, and graduated from the Evansville Business College.  In 1874 he began the mercantile business in Claysville, Ky., and two years later in Union County, Ky.  Since 1880 he has been engaged in his present business.  June 5, 1877, he married Katie Ledbetter, a native of Providence, Ky.  Their son is VirgilMr. Asher is a Democrat, and has been a member of the city council for two years.  He is a member of the I. O. O. F., K. of P. and of the Baptist Church.  E. W. Ledbetter was born in Providence, Ky., March 2, 1860, the son of Wiley and Nannie (Payton) Ledbetter.  Our subject was reared and educated in his native county.  Since 1880 he engaged in his present business, they being brothers-in-law.  He is a Democrat and a Knight of Pythias.


R. C. Atkinson, a large farmer and stock raiser, was born October 13, 1831, in McMinn County, Tenn., the fourth of fif- <pg. 674> teen children (four deceased) of James and Winnie (Bomer) Atkinson, the former born in 1797, in North Carolina, of Irish origin, and the latter in 1807, in East Tennessee, of English stock.  They were married in East Tennessee, where the father had lived from childhood, and in 1853 moved to Jefferson County, Ill., and settled on the farm where they died in 1876 and 1872 respectively.  Our subject educated in his native county and at college in Bradley County, began for himself at twenty, and after reaching Illinois, worked with his father until 1855.  He then married and settled on his farm five miles east of Mount Vernon, and after two years here and four years on his farm three miles south of Mount Vernon, he established a grocery business at Spring Garden.  In 1866 he merged this into a general merchandise business and soon moved his stock to Middleton, Wayne County.  After four years here and a year at Belle River in Jefferson County, where he erected some buildings, lost a child, and through general sickness became disheartened, he sold out, and again established a general merchandise business at McLeansboro.  Here he successfully engaged in business for twelve years, until 1885, when, after about twenty-one years of mercantile life, he moved to his present farm.  October 4, 1855, he married Lucinda E., daughter of Isaac Garrison, born September 16, 1836, in Saline County, Ill.  Three of their ten children are dead.  Margaret W., wife of J. P. Price; Angeline, wife of Will McConnell; David R., Lizzie B., William T., Calaway and John M. P. are living.  From a poor boy our subject has become one of the wealthiest citizens of the county, now owning 480 of land besides valuable town property.  Politically he is a Democrat, first voting for Pierce.  He is a Mason, member of Pope Lodge, No. 57, and his entire family excepting the youngest two children are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  He is one of the county's leading citizens.
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     Valentine S. Benson, M. D., of McLeansboro, was born in Gallatin County, May 22, 1834, the son of Charles R. and Mary (Riggin) Benson, natives respectively of Virginia and Tennessee.  Grandparents Babel Benson and Nelly Soward, his wife, resided in Greenbrier County, Va.  The father was born in Greenbrier County, Va., September 28, 1793.  The mother, Polly Riggin Benson, was born in Knox County, Tenn., June 25, 1796, and was the daughter of James Riggin, a Methodist minister.  They were married in Knox County, Tenn., April 5, 1821, and immigrated the following fall to Sangamon County, Ill., then St. Clair County, and in 1830 moved to Gallatin County, Ill.  The father served in the war of 1812, was in several hard fought battles, that of the Horse Shoe Bend being one of them.  About the year 1822 he located in Sangamon County, then St. Clair County, and finally settled in Gallatin County on a farm, and followed stock raising and farming successfully until his death, October 16, 1847, while on a visit in Missouri.  The mother died December 26, 1838.  The father then married Mrs. Lovina Puddles, by whom he had two daughters, one living, Mrs. Anne de Journet, of Mount Vernon, Ill.  By his first marriage were James M., of Johnson County; Andrew H., of Gallatin County, Ignatius M., of Johnson County; John F., of Benton County, Oreg.; Charles B., killed in the late war; Nancy H. (deceased); Mary R., (deceased wife of Dr. John De Webber), Gallatin County; our subject, and Francis A., who died at the age of seven or eight years.  Our subject, reared and educated in his native county, also attended high school in Jacksonville.  In 1853, he began medical study under Dr. Rathbone, of Harrisburg, and read also under Dr. Bishop, of Shawneetown.  In 1855-56, he attended St. Louis Medical College.  He practiced in Hamilton County and McLeansboro, and in 1869-70 graduated from the Kentucky School of Medicine, at Louisville.  He has practiced <pg. 676> here ever since 1863, having practiced in Benton, Ill., for six years prior to this.  He is deservedly successful and is the peer of any in his profession in the county.  February 18, 1855, he married Mary E., daughter of Dr. L. Rathbone, an early and prominent physician.  She died in February, 1864, leaving four children, two living now: Dr. John C. Benson, and Kittie, wife of J. R. Campbell.  His second wife, Mariam H. Allen, died about eight months after marriage. In January, 1867, he married his present wife, Judith A. (Wilbanks) Parrish, a native of Jefferson County.  He is a Democrat, and in 1865 represented the county in the State Legislature.  From 1876 to 1880 he was a member of the State Board of Equalization, and for three and a half years on the local pension board.  In August, 1885, President Cleveland appointed him physician to the Indians, in which capacity he spent a year at Fort Peck, M. T., and resigned.  Since his return he has been also interested in farming and stock-raising on his valuable land.  He has been prominently identified with municipal affairs for years.  He is an Odd Fellow, and a man of recognized ability in his business and profession.


     Isaac G. Berridge was born in Evansville, Ind., August 6, 1845, the son of Joseph and Sarah (Grooms) Berridge, natives of England.  The father came to the United States a short time before our subject's birth and located at Evansville, Ind., their present home.  Isaac G. was raised and educated in his native city, and learned the dry goods business in a large wholesale firm in that city, first as clerk, then as traveling salesman.  In 1873 he came to McLeansboro, engaged in his present business and has contributed largely to the success of the well known firm of Berridge & Pake.  January 18, 1872, he married Sarah V. Burtis, of Evansville, Ind.  Their only child is Mabel.  He is a Republican, an Odd Fellow and a Knight of Honor.  He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
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     Silas Biggerstaff, farmer, was born October 8, 1839, in Hamilton County, the second of ten children, three deceased, of Alfred and Evaline (Garrison) Biggerstaff, the former of German-French descent, born in Ulenberg County, Ky., in 1803, and the latter of English origin, born in 1813 in Tennessee.  They were married in Hamilton County, and settled on a farm in Crooke Precinct, where the father died in July, 1861.  The mother is still living on the same place.  Our subject was educated in the common schools, and when twenty-two married and settled on a farm in Beaver Creek Township, where he remained twelve years.  He then sold and moved to the "Ira Munsel farm" which he sold about two years later and bought an interest in the Belle City Grist and Saw Mill.  After six years' residence there in that business, he returned to his farm, and in January, 1885, sold it and bought the old "Judge Crouch farm" in Crouch Township.  His wife, Sidney, daughter of William and Sallie (Boyer) Fields, was born in 1841, in White County, Ill.  Their six children are John M. (deceased), Paris R. (deceased), William A., Mary L., Charles S. and Sallie.  In March, 1864, our subject enlisted in Company K, Eighteenth Illinois Infantry, at Enfield, White County, and was soon appointed second lieutenant, but resigned on account of ill health, and after but four or five months' service was honorably discharged.  He has, by hard work, made the chief part of his property, and now owns 440 acres, about 200 of which are cleared and cultivated.  It is in Sections 27 and 28.  Politically he is an independent Democrat first voting for Douglas.  He has been constable several years, and in Belle City was justice four years.  His Belle City Mill burned about 1880, and his loss was about $4,000, but he has recuperated from the financial loss.  He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
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     James H. Brown, farmer, was born in Wayne County, Mo., in 1845, the son of Green and Margie (Mayberry) Brown.  The father, born in middle Tennessee about 1805, came to Hamilton County in his youth and married, but in a few years he went to Wayne County, Mo.  Here he was soon appointed deputy sheriff, and in 1846, while attempting an arrest, he was shot and killed.  The mother, born in Hamilton County, in 1815, returned then to her birthplace and married James F. Galihur, who is also dead.  She is yet living, about seventy-two years old.  Our subject, the youngest of six children, lived with his mother until nearly twenty, and in January, 1863, married Nancy, daughter of Aaron S. McKenzie, born in Hamilton County in 1832.  Eight of their eleven children are living: Aaron G., Margie E. (wife of F. Jennings), George S., William S., Martha A., Robert W., Charles F. and John H.  After marriage he began farming his own property in Maberry Township.  In 1883 he sold out and bought 300 acres in Sections 26 and 34, living in the latter section, his present home.  His wife died August 12, 1882, and in January 1883, he married Martha E. Jennings, daughter of Nathaniel Martin, born in Kentucky in 1849.  Thomas and Martha E. are their children.  He is a Democrat, first voting for McClellan.  He is a Mason and a member of the A.O.U.W.  He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.


     William W. Buck, farmer, was born in 1833, in Gallatin County, the son of John and Eliza (Cook) Buck.  The father, of German descent, was born in 1793 in Virginia.  His father, Warner, a native of Hesse, Germany, when eighteen, entered military service, and was among the Hessian soldiers bought by King George to suppress the American Revolution.  He was captured at Trenton and held a prisoner three years, and then <pg. 679> exchanged.  During his imprisonment he and twelve others became so attached to the Americans that they attempted to desert to the American camp, but only he and one other succeeded.  He settled in Virginia, and afterward, in 1797, moved with his family to Bowling Green, Ky., and in 1808 to Gallia Connty, Ohio. John was twelve years old when they came to Gallatin County, and in 1827 he married.  In 1840 he settled in Beaver Creek Township, Hamilton County, the next year bought 120 acres, and the last twenty years of his life were spent with his son, William.  He died August 4, 183.  His wife, Eliza Cook, was born in 1803, in Gallatin County, and died in 1839.  Three of her six children are living: John J. of McLeansboro, ex-county clerk; our subject, and Alexander, of Beaver Creek Township.  Our subject was five years old when his mother died, and the next year he came to Hamilton County and was educated in home subscription schools.  At twenty-one he left his father, and February 23, 1854, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Jefferson Garrison, born August 10, 1836, in Gallatin County.  She came to Hamilton County when a child.  Their children are Eliza, wife of George Mason; Thomas, George, Masten, and Cloid.  He located on the eighty acres in Section 27, a gift from his father in 1855, and by his ability in business has made his possessions 340 acres, 240 of which is well improved and cultivated.  He is one of the leading farmers of the region, and a Democrat, first voting for Buchanan.  In November, 1876, he was elected county commissioner, and commissioned the 24th of November, by Gov. John L. Beveridge, to serve three years.  He and his wife are members of the Christian Church.


     James M. Burton, druggist and justice at Dahlgren, was born May 31, 1848, in Knight's Prairie, Hamilton Co., Ill.  Our subject was educated in the common schools, and at twenty began <pg. 680> selling groceries at Walpole, but a few months later moved to Leovilla, where he established himself in general merchandise.  He married, and at the end of two years made a final move to Dahlgren, and was for two years in the dry goods business.  Since that he has been in his present business, excepting three years as constable of his precinct.  In 1880, when he began pharmacy again, he was also elected justice, and in 1885 re-elected.  His wife, Mary A. (Preston), was born in 1849, in Coshocton County, Ohio.  Their children are Ella M., Charity and Flora O.  Three also are deceased.  Mr. Burton is one of the leading men of Dahlgren, and politically is a Democrat, first voting for Greeley.  He is popular in his party, and has always polled a strong vote when he has been candidate for two different county offices.  He is vice-president of Tonti, Dahlgren Lodge, No. 37, and a member of Iron Hall, Branch Lodge, No. 124, in the latter of which he served four years as cashier, and has lately been elected chief justice for the second term.  He is a charter member of both orders.  His wife is a Methodist, and his oldest daughter is a member of the Missionary Baptist Church.

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Michael L. Hébert
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