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.
JOHN SMITH is an extensive land-owner and one of the representative farmers and stock-raisers of Christian County, owning one of the best farms in May Township, his residence being on section 15. He was born in England, on the 18th of April, 1838, being a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Cooper) Smith. They were the parents of four children, three of whom are deceased.

Our subject's father was reared in England, and came in 1844 to seek a home in Illinois. He remained for a short time in Pike County, and in the following year entered land in Christian County. He was one of the pioneers and leading men of the county in an early day.

The farm which he entered is now owned and operated by our subject. At the time of his death the father left about four hundred acres of property, upon which he had made good improvements. On leaving Pike County, his wife and family remained, and in some unaccountable way they lost all trace of each other. After a quarter of a century had elapsed they accidentally met, and the children who were young when he left them, were all grown up at that time.

Mr. Smith was for twenty-six years Justice of the Peace in this township. His death occurred in January, 1877, and he was placed to rest in the Harris Cemetery. His wife was also a native of England, and her death occurred in Adams County, in October, 1873. In 1844 the mother of our subject was left with her four small children in Pike County. On account of poor health the whole family had chills and fevers. Mrs. Smith's parents desired her to leave and go to Jacksonville. Her husband wrote a number of letters, but, failing to receive any reply, concluded that she had deserted him and returned to her parents. In a few years he was therefore married in Sangamon County, and after the death of his wife he was again married, but afterward obtained a divorce.

After a few months from the time of her husband's departure, the mother of our subject removed to Jacksonville, Ill., and therefore on his return to Pike County he could learn nothing of their whereabouts.

At the end of twenty-six years, during which time he had accumulated a large estate, Mr. Smith again began searching for them, and at last his labor was rewarded. He found that his wife, thinking he was dead, had married in the mean time Daniel Levilton. who was then deceased. Of his family, but two were living, William and our subject, who were both married and had families. The mother was making her home with our subject. After the matter had been thoroughly investigated, it was found that Mrs. Smith's relatives were to blame for the whole trouble.

John Smith was only six years old when his father left home, and he went to live with a farmer, with whom he made his home for a year. Next, going to Naples, he worked for a man who ran an hotel and livery stable. For a year he ran errands and waited on the table, after which he went to Jacksonville and drove a stage from that point to Brighton, and also helped at the hotel at odd times for three years. Then, being fifteen years old, he hired out to farmers for the following two years. The next five years he was employed in Brown County, Ill., and then returned to Pike County, where he rented a farm for three years.

The first property owned by our subject was a tract of eighty acres in Adams County. He became a thorough agriculturist and success crowned his labors, for in 1878 his property in that county comprised three hundred and fifty acres. This farm he still owns, but in 1878 he came to take possession of the farm that was given him by his father. This place comprises three hundred and sixty acres, and is one of the best-improved farms in the township.

On the 10th of April, 1864, Mr. Smith and Miss Ruth Kaylor were joined in matrimony. She was born in Pike County, Ill., and died in 1875, having had four children: Lydia E., who is now the wife of John Robinson, a farmer of Christian County; Ellen G., deceased; George Thomas, who is also a farmer of this county; and John William, who is still at home. On the 7th of November, 1875, our subject married Miss Sarah E. Lane, who was born in Adams County, Ill., and is a daughter of Jasper Lane. Four children have been born of this union, three of whom died in infancy. Myrtle resides with her parents.

In politics, Mr. Smith is a supporter of the Prohibition party. With his wife, he holds membership with the Methodist Episcopal Church. He has never been desirous of official positions, but at one time served as Road Commissioner. As his boyhood years were passed under such unusual circumstances, it can plainly be seen that his educational facilities were almost entirely lacking, and whatever he has accomplished in life has been entirely due to his courage and other worthy qualities. He has surely had the greatest difficulties to surmount, but even in childhood was brave and ambitious to succeed, and he has been prospered beyond his expectations.


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