genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
COL. WILLIAM M. READING, one of the popular citizens and prominent stock-buyers of Pana Township, residing on section 6, well deserves representation in the history of his adopted county, and with pleasure we present this record of his life to our readers.

He was born in Pike County, Mo., June 25, 1828. His grandfather, George Reading, was born near Reading, Pa., and in an early day removed to Kentucky. He was a miller and farmer, and built a gristmill in that State.

John Reading, father of the Colonel, was born in Harrison, Ky., and after arriving at years of maturity married Sarah D. Maxwell, who was born in Bourbon County, Ky. The marriage of this couple was celebrated in Pike County, Mo., and they immediately afterwards located on a farm near the border of Louisiana, their respective families having removed thither in an early day.

The paternal grandfather and the maternal great-grandfather were both Revolutionary soldiers. In 1830, the parents removed to what was then Marion County, Mo., but afterwards became Lewis County, Mo. The father there built a grist and saw mill, but he was not long permitted to enjoy his new home, his death occurring in 1832, at the age of thirty-six years.

His wife long survived him and passed away at the age of sixty-eight. The Colonel is their only son, but they had five daughters, all of whom grew to womanhood. Nancy M. is now the widow of Robert Creasy, of Lewis County, Mo.; Elizabeth is the widow of Daniel Creasy, and resides in the same county; Jane E. is the wife of James Dickson, of Quincy, Ill.; Sarah Ann is now deceased; and Mrs. Rebecca Susan Jennings has also passed away.

Col. Reading, who was the fourth in order of birth, was reared in the county of his nativity and was educated in the district schools. He was a lad of only four years when his father died. When he was still quite young the care of his widowed mother and sisters fell upon him.

They lived in a new country, and the development of the land was an arduous task. In 1853, he went to La Grange, Mo., where he was employed as a collector for a general store. In 1855, he bought an interest in the business and continued operations in that line until 1861, when he sold out.

In August, 1862, Mr. Reading organized a regiment of militia in Lewis and Clark Counties Mo., and on the 19th of December, that year, he was commissioned Colonel of the Sixty-ninth Missouri Infantry. He commanded his troops until 1864, and was engaged in fighting bushwhackers and guerrillas and in keeping order in that much disputed territory, his headquarters being at La Grange, Mo.

He received an appointment as Assessor of the Tenth Division of the Second District of Missouri, and discharged the duties connected with that position, when not engaged in skirmishing.

The regiment was ordered to disband in 1864. Col. Reading then resumed merchandising in La Grange, where he remained until 1878. That year witnessed his arrival in Christian County, Ill., since which time he has been engaged in farming and stock-raising He is now one of the largest stock-dealers in the community.

The Colonel was married May 23, 1848, to Sarah Ann Hampton, who was born in Missouri, and died April 12, 1854, leaving two daughters: Sarah, wife of Charles Roth, of East Germantown, Ind.; and Susan, wife of Calvin Wiseman, of Lewis County, Mo.

On the 1st of November, 1855, Mr. Reading was joined in marriage with Miss Mary J. Ring, a native of Greenbrier County, W. Va. They have had a family of nine children: John J., deceased; William M., of St. Paul, Minn.; Anna Mary, who died in infancy; Joseph G., at home; James A., who died in infancy; Nannie May, wife of Edward Coonrod, of this county; Emma J., who is engaged in teaching; Maud, who is also a teacher; and Grace, a student in the High School at Taylorville.

In politics, the Colonel was a Whig until the organization of the American party, and since 1864 he has been a stalwart Republican. He served as Councilman and Treasurer of the town of La Grange, and in politics takes quite a prominent part.

He has organized many Republican clubs, and does all in his power to promote the interests of his party. He is a popular, genial gentleman, who makes friends wherever he goes. He is a man of kindly and generous impulses, and his sociability and sterling qualities have gained him universal confidence and esteem.


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