Carroll County Biographies


John Mackay has been prominently connected with the growth and prosperity of Carroll County for forty-six years, as an intelligent, shrewd, and practical farmer and stock-raiser, and is now numbered among its men of wealth and influence. He owns, on section 28, Salem Township, one of the best managed and most fertile farms in this part of the county. He has erected a handsome residence, one of the finest in this section of the State, and a convenient set of farm buildings, besides many other valuable improvements that add greatly to the attractiveness of the place and to its financial worth.

Our subject was born in Sutherlandshire, Scotland, June 21, 1820, to James and Ann (MacDonald) Mackay, who were likewise born and bred in the land of the Scots. They were engaged in farming until 1830, when they emigrated (sic) to America with their family, and settled in Nova Scotia. They resided there thirteen years, and then, leaving the British Dominions, sought a home in the States. They settled in Salem Township, Carroll County, and the following year, 1844, the father closed his eyes to the scenes of earth, and thus ended a useful and honorable life. His good wife survived him twenty years, dying in 1864.

The early life of John Mackay, of this sketch, was spent on a farm, and he has, in fact, always been engaged in agricultural pursuits. He was a boy of nine years when he came to America with his parents, and was in the prime of a vigorous young manhood when he came with them to Illinois, he being then twenty-two years old. In the years that have followed, by hard toil, judicious economy, and wise investment, he has accumulated a valuable property, and is numbered among the substantial citizens of this township, of which he was an early settler, and whose highest interests he has always aimed to promote. After his marriage in 1849 he settled on his present farm in Salem Township, and, with the aid of a capable wife, has built up a cosy (sic), beautiful home, replete with all things that go to make life comfortable. His farm comprises 198 acres, whose soil he has under excellent tillage, and besides raising grain and other farm products, he has given much of his time to raising stock of high grades, and his sleek, well-fed herds compare favorably with others in the township.

The marriage of Mr. Mackay with Miss Catherine Rupple took place in Freeport, Ill., July 17, 1849. Mrs. Mackay was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, Nov. 28, 1828. Her union with our subject has been blessed to them by the birth of ten children, as follows: William A., a graduate of the State University, is Vice President of the First National Bank of Madison, Dak., and married Miss Clara Shirk; Daniel S. is also a graduate of the State University; Vena G. is the wife of Charles Beede, of Salem Township; Henry, a graduate of the State University, is an attorney at Mt. Carroll, and married Miss Susan Hostetter; Helen H., Jennie B., Katie A., John L., Duncan F., and Mary E. The family are all highly intelligent and finely educated, the three eldest daughters being graduates of Mt. Carroll Seminary, and seven of the children have taught school more or less. Mr. and Mrs. Mackay and four of their daughters Vena, Helen, Jennie, and Mary are active members of the Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Mackay possesses a large share of those Scotch characteristics of thrift, acumen, and foresight, so combined with energy and steadiness of purpose, that his present prosperous condition seems to have been assured from the beginning of his career. These traits have made him an invaluable citizen, one to be trusted with the responsibilities of public office, and in him his neighbors find a true and steadfast friend, upon whom they can depend for sympathy or help in their hour of need. He is Vice President of the Savanna Bank, and has been School Treasurer in Salem Township for almost forty years, and has always taken an earnest interest in securing the best possible educational advantages to the youth of the community. He has been Supervisor of Salem Township, and in that capacity materially advanced its interest. He is a thorough Republican in his political views, and warmly supports his party.

Contributed by Carol Parrish from "Portraits & Biographical 1889 Pg 1014

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