HIRAM BENNETT BAXTER, an intelligent and progressive farmer and a stock-raiser of township 17-9, near Ashland, Illinois, was born and reared in Jefferson county, Indiana.
His parents were William and Jane (Kerr) Baxter, both natives of Ohio, his father having been born in Dayton. His father's father was a native of Ireland, who came to America and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he married a German lady, named Rebecca Riddle. Mr. Baxter's maternal grandfather was Josiah Kerr, a native of Scotland. Thus he is of Irish, German and Scotch ancestry, three of the most intelligent and progressive nationalities on the face of the earth, and he would be a sad renegade were he not likewise constituted. His parents had ten sons and two daughters, of whom the subject of this sketch was the sixth in order of birth. James Riddle, the eldest brother, is an attorney of Bloomfield, Green county, Indiana; Josiah Kerr is a retired physician of Sharpsville, Indiana; Daniel Thomas, a mechanic, died in early manhood, leaving a wife and two children, all now deceased; Oliver H. P. was one of the first white settlers in Pueblo, Colorado, where he engaged in mining and speculating in cattle, in which occupations he has been very successful, having accumulated a fortune of great wealth. He is now retired from active business, and spends most of his time in traveling, has been twice to Europe, and last summer was in Alaska. William Alexander died in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1877; the next in order is the subject of this sketch; George W. is a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana; Hayden Hayes is in the cattle business near Pueblo, Colorado; Edwin Arthur is in the livery and undertaking business in Sangamon county, Illinois; Leonidis Napoleon is farming the old Indiana homestead; Havana Siloam married Robert Williams, a merchant of Madison, Indiana; Irena Hazeltine died in early childhood. In 1854 the family werecalled upon to mourn the loss of the devoted wife and mother, whose life had been one of self-abnegation, and subservience to her family's welfare. The father afterward married her sister, and to this union one son, Virgil, was born, who died in 1861. The father died in August, 1861, and was interred by the side of his first wife, near the old home in Indiana. He was a prominent man in his community and was very popular among his associates, always heading every movement for the moral and material improvement of his locality. The second wife lives on the old homestead. She is a lady of much culture and refinement, and is universally beloved.
The subject of this sketch was educated in Indiana, and was reared to farm life, and in the peaceful pursuits of rural and home life spent his earlier days. This happy routine was interrupted by civil discord, which rent the country, and on July 14, 1861, he enlisted at Madison, Indiana, in Company K, Twenty- Second Infantry. He participated in the Missouri campaign, the first encounter taking place at Glasgow, that state, where Major Tanner was killed; and also took part in the fight at Blackwater, where the Union forces took 1,300 of the enemy prisoners. Thence he accompanied his Regiment, under the supervision of General Freemont, to Springfield, Missouri. General Hunter superceding General Freemont, they were returned to their old quarters, under the immediate command of General Curtis, with whom they marched to Springfield and thence to the battle at Pea Ridge, where the right flank suffered severely. Thence they went to Corinth, Mississippi, where they participated in the siege of Corinth, after which they returned to Iuka, that State, going from there to Florence, Alabama, and back again to Louisville, marching 400 miles in August and September, 1862. After this they went to Perryville, Kentucky, where there was an engagement, in which Mr. Baxter was shot through the left knee, lying on the battlefield all night after being wounded. There were thirty-five men in his company on going into battle, and emerging there were but eight unharmed, ten having been killed, thirteen wounded, and four taken prisoners. Mr. Baxter was sent to the hospital at Louisville, where he remained from October 8, 1862, to February of the following year. He rejoined his regiment at Murphysboro, Tennessee, and there received his commission as First Lieutenant, being promoted from Duty Sergeant to that rank. In the absence of the captain, who had been wounded, Mr. Baxter at once assumed command of the company. His regiment remained in Murphysboro until June, and then went on the Tullahoma campaign, following the enemy as far as Chattanooga, and participated in the historic battle of Chickamauga. It then fell back to Chattanooga, and engaged for a time in building fortifications. It next took part in the sanguinary battle of Missionary Ridge, at which it was in Sheridan's division, and fought in the center. The following morning it started on a forced march for Knoxville, to relieve Burnside, who was surrounded by Longstreet. During this rapid march, the regiment was short of rations and had no tents. It was encamped on Strawberry Plains for six weeks, while the ground, the greater part of the time, was covered with snow. At this place the regiment re-enlisted for three years, and then returned to Chattanooga, after which the men were given a veteran furlough. At the expiration of their leave of absence, they rejoined their command at Chattanooga, whence they started with General Sherman on his memorable march to the sea, the Twenty- second Indiana being in the advance brigade. The enemy were met in force at Tunnel Hill and Rocky Face Ridge, and the next at Rasaca, Georgia, whence the Union forces proceeded to Snake Creek Gap, where Mr. Baxter's division was separated from the main army, and sent, under General Jefferson C. Davis, via Rome, Georgia. Here an engagement was fought, at which Mr. Baxter was again wounded in the left leg, the same as before. He remained about a month in Rome, when he secured a leave of absence for forty days, finally reporting to the officer's hospital, in Cincinatti, where the board of examiners ordered his discharge, General Slemmer being the chief of the board. On being discharged, August 29, 1864, he was granted $8.50 a month, that being half of a first lieutenant's pension.
In February, 1865, Mr. Baxter assisted in raising a company for the One-hundred and Forty-eighth Regiment, of which company he became First Lieutenant, and afterward Captain. This regiment was sent to Columbia, Tennessee, where it did patrol duty until September 6, 1865, when it was mustered out of service.
Mr. Baxter then returned to his home in Indiana, and was subsequently employed for a time in the railroad business in Indianapolis. December 15, 1866, he reached Jacksonville, Illinois, near which place he taught school two years; later, he taught school for another two years at Literberry, same State. He was afterward engaged in selling goods in the latter place, where he acted at various times as railroad agent, Postmaster and Justice of the Peace, his residence there extending over a period of nine years.
In 1876 he was married, and included the Centennial Exposition in his wedding tour, visiting in old Virginia and spending a week in Washington city. Miss Lydia Ellen Crum was the lady of his choice, a daughter of Abram A. and Sarah (Buchanan) Crum, old and highly respected reidents of the vicinity of Literberry, Illinois, where they still reside. Mr. and Mrs. Baxter have two sons,--Albert, born Octber 9, 1880, and William Abram, born September 18, 1887.
In 1881, Mr. Baxter sold out his mercantile interests in Literberry and removed to his present farm, five miles west of Ashland, where his father-in-law had given him $20,000 worth of land. He owns a farm of 760 acres on the garden spot of Illinois, and, as for that matter, of the world, inasmuch as there is no more fertile country on the globe than that included in the Prairie State. This season (1892), he has 260 acres of corn, 180 of wheat, and eighty of oats, the balance being meadow and pasture land. He has here a substantial farm residence, neatly and comfortably arranged; large barns for his grain and stock; and many other valuable inprovements.
Mr. Baxter is a stanch Republican and takes an active interest in political matters. He has been a candidate for various offices, but his party being in the minority he was never elected, yet succeeded in helping to hold the party organization together.
He belongs to the G. A. R. and was the first commander of John L. Douglas Post, No. 591, at Ashland, having served two terms in that capacity.
Seven of Mr. Baxter's brothers were in the army, no two of whom were in the same regiment, and all returned home, and still survive. Dr. Josiah was a Surgeon in the army; and Hayden was taken prisoner, stripped of his clothing and other valuables, paroled and turned loose, walking all the way home from Arkansas Post. Of this family there were one Surgeon, two Captains one Lieutenant, and three privates in the service. The subject of this sketch received three commissions, two as First Lieutenant, and one as Captain all from the hands of the famous war Gevernor Oliver P. Morton. Mr. Baxter received two wounds at the hands of the rebels, which compelled him to spend some eight months in the hospital. During the total period of three years and eight months he served two years in command of his company; and, while he was one of the youngest soldiers in it, he thinks he did his part.
Had this family lived in Napoleon's time, they would have been greatly honored, inasmuch as he valued families only in proportion to the number of sons contributed to the insatiable monster of war. It is the disadvantage of republican forms of government, that they bestow no special privileges for services rendered by their inhabitants other than the universal gratitude of millions living and unborn, which is supplemented, in the breasts of those champions of liberty in the late war, by a deep sense of duty done, which soothes the wounded spirit and begets a peace which passeth understanding.
James M. Black, dealer in hard coal and wood, was born in Indiana county, Pennsylvania, October 12, 1835. He was the son of John W. Black of the same county, who was one of thirteen children. All grew to maturity, and the sons were mecanics by trade. John W. Black was a blacksmith by trade. After he came West he was foreman of the Boyles Scales Company of St. Louis, Missouri, for some years, and, later came to Beardstown and established himself with Mr. T.A. Fisher, another old blacksmith. He was later with Messrs. Milner and Hill. He did business as a smith and a manufacturer of wagons and buggies. He went to Pike's Peak in the early sixties and was a miner there for some time. He secured his claim, but later came back to Bandalia and died there, about fifty years of age. He was married in his native county, to Marget A. Shankle, of early English ancestry. She was born in Indiana county, Pennsylvania, where her parents lived and died. She died when in St. Louis, after the birth of five children, when she was in the prime of life.
James M. Black came to this town, Beardstown, in 1851. From here he went to Iowa, and after residing there for six years came to Beardstown in 1861 and engaged in teaming until 1870, when he established his coal business.
He was married in Polk county, Iowa, June 11, 1857, to Miss Mary Shepherd. She was born in Kentucky and came with her parents, Benjamin and Minerva Shepherd of Kentucky, to Polk county, Iowa, and for some years following the marriage of their daughter. Mr. Shepherd died in Peoria county. Mrs. Shepherd still lives there, about ninety years of age. Mrs. Black ided at her home in Beardstown, in 1878. She had three children, namely: Francis Ellen, born January 21, 1862, died May 6, 1864; Edward Franklin, born March 1, 1865, married Grace Putnam, and now lives in Virginia, where he is agent for the Quincy & Missouri Railroad; and Harry L., born October 6, 1870, who is still at home and assists his father. Mr. Black is a Republican and is chairman in one of the local district Republican central committees. He is a member of the Methodist Church. He is a working member of the A.O.U.W., and has managed their financial affairs for six years. He has been the representative to the Grand Lodge.
Joseph Franklin Black was born in Murray county, Tennessee, February 23, 1828. His father, William Black, was born near Milledgeville, Georgia, January 3, 1796, son of Thomas Gillespie Black, who was born in Markingham county, North Carolina, in January, 1772, whose father, William Black, a native of Maryland, removed to North Carolina. William Black was captain of a company of militia at the time the Revolutionary war broke out, and was one of the first who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the British government. He died soon after the war began. The maiden name of his wife was Beard. They were members of the Presbyterian church.
Thomas G. Black was reared and educated in his native State. He taught school several years. Removing from North Carolina to Georgia, he settled near Milledgeville, where he bought a tract of land and on it passed the residue of his life, dying in 1823. He was married February 26, 1995, to Polly Callahan, who was born April 7, 1773, daughter of William and Elizabeth (Shepard) Callahan, her father being of Irish and her mother of German descent. Mrs. Black went to Tennessee after the death of her husband, and from there to Illinois in 1825. Her death occurred in Morgan county, this State, in 1853. Grandfather and grandmother Black were members of the Presbyterian Church. They reared ten of their eleven children, viz.: William, Susanna, John, Cynthia, James, Thomas, Polly, Jefferson, Eleanor and Elizabeth. Rebecca died in infancy.
William Black, father of the subject of our sketc, grew up and received his education in his native State, and went with the family to Tennessee directly after the death of his father. He was a natural mechanic and with his brother John established a furniture factory in Maury county, remaining in business there till 1834. That year, with his wife and six children, he came to Illinois, their removal being made via the Cumberland, Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers. He located four miles north of Winchester, in Scott county, where he bought eighty acres of prairie and eighty acres of timber land, paying $2.50 per acre for a part of it. He at once built a small frame house, containing two rooms, and commenced improving his land. In 1846 he sold this farm for $8 per acre. He then came to Cass county and bought 200 acres of land, located six miles southeast of Virginia, for which he paid $6 an acre. There was a double log house on this place, which the family occupied one year, at the end of which time they moved into the substantial brick house which Mr. Black erected, and which still stands. He also built a work shop. He, however, gave the most of his attention to farming. He lived there till after the death of his wife, when he went to Virginia and spent his last days at the home of his son, John, where he died October 3, 1884. December 4, 1823, he married Miss Mary S. Vaughn, who was born in Tennessee, November 1, 1803, daughter of Dixon and Susan Vaughn. She died on the home farm, January 29, 1881. Of the ten children born to them they reared eight, namely: Thomas G., Joseph F., William L., Riochmond V., Green V., James B., Mary J. and John. Both he and his wife were reared in the Presbyterian Church, and after coming to Illinois they united with the Christian Church, of which they remained consistent members till the time of their death.
Joseph Franklin Black, the subject of our sketch, was six years old when he moved to Illinois with his parents, and remembers distinctly many of the incidents connected with their removal and frontier life. At that time Central Illinois was sparsely settled and it was long before the advent of railroads here. Naples was the principal market for the surrounding country. Mr. Black relates that at one time his father went to St. Louis to mill. Instead of being gone one week, as he had expected, he was gone three weeks, and in the mean time the supply of meal gave out at home. By pounding corn in a mortar, the children made meal enough to last till their father's return. In 1836 three cooking stoves were brought to Jacksonville, one of which Mr. Black's father bought, paying $75 for it. Such a curiosity was this stove that the neighbors for miles around came to see it.
Joseph F. received his education in the primitive schools of Illinois. He inherited from his father a talent for mechanical work and early began to assist him in the shop. At the age of twenty he began life on his own responsibility, commencing at once as a contractor and builder, and before he was twenty-one he bought 102 acres of land near the village of Philadelphia and devoted his time to the invention of farm machinery. To him belongs the distinction of having invented and patented the first self-binder ever made. He took three different patents on it, and in partnership with his brother William got two patents on a gang plow. The value of such a man to a community cannot be estimated. Indeed, the worth of his inventive genius extends beyond his own community and State, being felt all over the world.
In 1867 he resumed farming and continued that occupation till 1876. That year he moved to Virginia and established himself as a contractor and builder. Many of the best store buildings and residences in this city are monuments to his skill. Nor have his labors been confined to Virginia. He has done work in Springfield, Jacksonville, Beardstown, and various other places. For some years past Mr. Black has devoted his time to architecture, wich he studied in his younger days, preparing plans and specifications and superintending the construction of buildings. He made the plans for the county jail and superintended its construction; also the two additions to the courthouse.
Mr. Black was married May 17, 1849 to Mary F. Wilmott, a native of Illinois and a daughter of Charles R. Wilmott. They had five children, as follows: Charles W., born September 23, 1850, was married November 24, 1870, to Elsie Buckley, and has five children: Mabel, Roy, Mary, Stella and Clyde; Mary born May 28, 1855, married Armstead Mains, and has seven children: Maude, Elma, William, Teatta, Toura, Louese and Leslie; Eva, born August 29, 1860, was married January 26, 1882, to William G. Payne; Robert, born September 22, 1864, was married October 18, 1889, to Maggie Gray and has two children, Edna ad an infant; and Frank born March 23, 1868, married a Miss Elliott, and has one child, Edward. Mrs. Black died January 26, 1879, and in May 1883, Mr. Black wedded Mary (Thompson) Skiles.
Mr. Black is a member of the Christian Church, as also was his first wife. His present companion has her membership with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Politically, he was formerly a Whig, but since the organization of the Republican party he has affiliated with it.
pg. 128, 129, 130
Charles Bockemeier, general farmer and stock-raiser, was born in Prussia, not far from the river Rhine, August 16, 1835. His father Charles, lived and died in Prussia, a blacksmith by trade. His wife came to the United States six months after his death, joining her sons in Cass county, dying at the age of eighty-two. She and her husband were life-long members of the Lutheran Church. Charles was a young single man when in 1854 he set out for the United States. He took the usual route via New Orleans, Mississippi, Ohio and Illinois rivers, to Beardstown, and joined his brother Casper, who had come here two years before. He has been in the county for more than thirty years, and what he now owns he has made by his own efforts. He has owned his present place for fourteen years. It consists of 160 acres, some well improved, and some very fine pasture land. He is at present Commissioner of road district No. 8, of Cass county.
He was first married to Miss Barbara Gemming, of Germany, sho came to the United States when a young woman. At her death she left three children: Mrs. Anna Flamme, of Pekin, Illinois; Mrs. Lena Heresty, wife of a railroad employe, and Mrs. Emma Nortrup, of Scott county, Illinois. He was married a second time, near Beardstown, to Mrs. Loise Wubker; her maiden name was Loise Schewe. She was born in Prussia, came here when a young woman, was first married in Cass county, to Henry Webker, and by that marriage had seven children. Mr. and Mrs. Bockemeier have two sons, Charles and William. They attend the Lutheran Church, and are highly respected members of it. Mr. Bockemeier is a sound Democrat and an excellent man.
Joseph Briar, one of the old settlers of Hickory precinct, Cass county, Illinois, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 3, 1823, son of James Briar, a native of Ireland. His grandparents were born in Ireland, of Scotch ancestry, and spent their entire lives in their native land. James Briar was reared and married in Ireland and came to America about 1815. He first lived in New York city and afterward in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburg. He was a contractor on Government works, and while in New York city was engaged in building lighthouses in New York harbor. Subsequently he was one of the contractors on the building of the State prison at Alleghany. In the fall of 1836 he came to Illinois. He spent the winter at Beardstown, during which time he looked around for a location suitable for a home, and in the spring entered a tract of Government land in the Sangamon river bottoms. As there were no improvements on his land, he rented an improved farm east of Virginia, and a part of the family settled on that farm while the rest took up their abode on the land he had entered, and at once began its improvement. He resided on this place until his death, February 22, 1844. The maiden name of his wife was Mary Davis. She was born in Ireland, and died on the home farm. They reared nine children.
Joseph Briar was thirteen years old when he came to Illinois with his parents. There were no railroads in this State at that time, and their removal was made via the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers, landing at Beardstown November 19. Beardstown was then a small place, but was the market and depot for supplies for many miles around. Central Illinois was sparsely settled and much of the land still owned by the Government, while in the northern part the surveys were yet incomplete. Deer, wild turkeys, prairie chidkens, and other game abounded. He resided with his parents till attaining his majority, when he settled on the farm he now owns and occupies. This place is located on section 4, township 18, range 10, and includes 122 ½ acres of the best Sangamon river bottom land. He has erected a nice set of frame buildings and enjoys all the comforts of a pleasant home.
In 1847 Mr. Briar married Mary A. Harris, a native of England, who came with her parents to Cass county when she was a girl. She died in 1853, and the following year he married Eliza Smith, a native of New York State. There are two children living by the first marriage: Martha J. and Emily D. Of the seven children born by his present wife, four are living: Joseph, Harry, Frank and Annie. Lillie, Bertie and Effie are deceased.
Mr. and Mrs. Briar are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
William A. Broker was born in Lippe-Detmold, Germany, March 19, 1837. He was a boy of eleven years of age when his parents, Samuel and Sophia (Haupfer) Broker crossed the Atlantic in the spring of 1849, to New Orleans, and thence up the Mississippi river to St. Louis. This was during the year of the great cholera epidemic in that city, and within a few days the father and three of the children died, the mother and William having it severely, but recovering. When they were able to leave, the mother and her four small children moved to a farm near Watertown, Wisconsin. About one year later the mother died of cholera morbus, she being then fifty years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Broker had always been members of the German Reformed Church.
Mr. William Broker is the youngest of the children yet living. He is now pattern-maker for the St. Louis division of the Quincy railroad, which is located at Beardstown. He has been a resident of the same city since 1851. He was only fourteen years old when he arrived at Beardstown, and learned the trade of a practical carpenter mechanic under C.A. Bushman. After learning his trade he worked on his own account, and later became a carpenter for the old Rockford company. In 1869, when the railroad was bought up by the Quincy company, he became their pattern-maker in 1879. He has ever since been regarded as a good, reliable workman, and a true, straightforward man, and his long association with the railroad company is a recommendation of him as a citizen.
He was married in Beardstown to Miss Dorothea Kratz, who was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, in 1844, and was twelve years of age when her parents emigrated to this country. They have seven children: Frank, living at home, is a machinist; Sophia and Katie are at home, they having been well educated in the high school of the city; William is learning the machinist trade; Minnie, Amelia and Samuel are at home. Mr. and Mrs. Broker attend the Lutheran Church. Mr. Broker is a Republican, and a member of the A.O.U.W. He is highly respected by all.
Jasper J. Buck, deceased, was one of the good farmers and citizens of Arenzville. He was the youngest of thirteen children. His father, Jasper Buck, was born in Bertie county, North Carolina, in 1792; removed to Cass county, Illinois, about 1825 or '30, where he died in 1846; his mother, Sophia Buck, survived her husband ten years, dying in 1856. Of the twelve brothers and sisters of the subject of this sketch, four only survive at this writing (1892), viz.: Sarah, wife of Conrad Reining; John H.; Albert; and Betsy, wife of Richard Davis.
Jasper J., whose name heads this biography, was married to Miss Mary A. Morrison, February 27, 1862. They have four children: Josephine, born, January 5, 1863, wife of William J. Kircher; John A., born September 4, 1864; Elizabeth M., born December 12, 1868, wife of John Huss; and Edward A., born October 8, 1872.
In 1864, Mr. Buck enlisted as a soldier, but as his two children were young, and his wife sickly, he withdrew and employed a substitute.
He was known as a good and true man, and was loved and respected by all. He was identified with no church organization, though he was a professed Christian. He was a member of the I.O.O.F. and in politics was a Democrat of the Jacksonian type.
After a long, painful illness, he died September 25, 1883, leaving a wife and four children to mourn his loss. Since his death Mrs. Buck has had the management of the farm of eighty acres, left her by her husband. She has raised her family of four children, two of whom are married and doing for themselves; two, John and Edward, are at home, She is a true Christian woman, and a useful member of the Presbyterian Church.
William Buracker was born on a farm in township 17, range 9, Cass county, Illinois, September 14, 1846.
His parents, Philip A., and Jane (Holzman) Buracker, were born, reared and married in Page county, Virginia, and in 1844 came to Illinois, making the journey with a team. They located on the farm on which their son William was born, and there resided six years. They then moved to a farm in range 10, of the township, where they passed the rest of their lives. The father died May 28, 1891, at the age of sixty-eight years. The mother passed away in 1873. They reared three children, William, Alfred and George. Alfred is deceased.
William Buracker was reared and educated, and has passed his life thus far, in his native county. He was brought up on the farm, and has since been engaged in agricultural pursuits. When he attained his majority he commenced farming for himself on his father's land, and in 1870 his father gave him the farm he has since occupied, which is located in section 27, township 17, range 10. In connection with his agricultural pursuits he is also engaged in stock raising.
In 1868 Mr. Buracker was untied in marriage with Helen C. Heslep, a native of Cass county, and a daughter of Thomas and Catherine Heslep. Mr. and Mrs. Buracker have two children, Philip T. and Katie.
Politically, Mr. Buracker has always affiliated with the Democratic party, and is a most efficient member of the same. He was elected a member of the Board of County Commissioners in 1885, and was re-elected in 1888. In this capacity he has always worked for the good of the entire county, ever taking a bold stand in favor of the right.