Lee County Biography

William S. Brierton
Nelson Township

In the early days of the settlement of Lee County there came hither from his old home in PA one Joseph Brierton, who was among the first to settle in Nachusa Twp., and from that time the name of Brierton has been linked with the history of the development and welfare of this section of Illinois. The gentleman who is the subject of this biographical review is a son of that honored pioner andhe has risen to an honorable place amont the intelligent, progressive farmers of his native county, his agricultural interests being comprised ina well stocked, finely improved farm, lying on sections 16 and 17, Nelson Twp.

Our subject was born November 25, 1839, on his father's homestead in Nachusa Twp., and was reared and educated under the pioneer conditions that prevailed during his youth. He early adopted the calling to which he has been bred, and at first engaged in it in his native township, of which he remained a resident until 1874. He purchased his present farm in Nelson Twp. 16 years ago and has since busied himself with its cultivation and improvement. He owns nearly a quarter of a section, which is finely tilled, and is amply supplied with modern improvements, neat and well appointed buldings adding to the attractiveness as well as to the value of the place, and on all sides are evidences of well considered and systematic arrangements for conducting agriculture in an enlightened manner, thoroughly in keeping with the advanced methods in use today.

Joseph Brierton, the father of our subject, was born in Luzerne County, PA of foreign parentage. His father was a native of England who had come to this country when a young man, had mrried a PA lady of Dutch descent, and they had lived and died in Luzerne County. The father of our subject grew up in the county of his nativity and learned the trade of a brewer, which he followed for a time, and then abandoned that to fit himself for a blacksmith, which calling he pursued for awhile. He was in the prime and vigor of his life when he decided to improve his fortunes by migration to the wilderness of IL, where land was cheap, and there were other advantages to compensate for the rough, rude life on the frontier, with which he was well fitted to cope. He set forth with his family in 1836-37 and traveled over the intervening country to his destination with teams.

After Joseph's arrival here, he purchased a squatter's claim on section 26, Nachusa Twp. and was one of the originals ettlers. He at once began to improve hisland, and also established a smithy, which he operated in connection with farming for some years. He built up a comfortable home, in which he rounded out a life of unusual length, he being past 96 years of age when he died and the eldest but one man in the county. He was of a quiet, thoughtful disposition, of an even temperament and irreproachable habits, and was reverenced by all who knew him. He was a strong Methodist in religion and in politics he was a downright Republican to the day of his death. Mr. Brierton's wife died in 1872 at the age of 70. Shee too was a native of Luzerne County, her parents also being of PA birth, and living and dying in that county, and her maiden name was Elizabeth Garrison. She was a noble type of the pioneer women who assisted their fathers, brothers and husbands. She was a consistent CHristian and a member of the Methodist Episcopal CHurch.

Our subject is one of 12 children, five of whom are living, all married and residing within the borders of this county. After attaining his majority he was first married in Nachusa, to Mary E. Stetler, a native of PA who came to this county when a child with her parents. Her death occurred in Nelson Twp. Aug. 3, 1886, when she was still in life's prime and she left behind a beautiful memory as a daughter, wife and mother. Four children were born to them - Joseph, a farmer in AMboy Twp. who married Silvie Collins; Charles a farmer in Nelson Twp. who married May Poorbaugh; Alva and Rhoda A. who are at home. The second marriage which took place in Taylor Twp. Ogle County was with Anna Hewitt. Mrs. Brierton was born in Ireland in the county of Downe, March 24, 1860. Her parents are yet living at their old home in that Irish county. She came to the U.S. in Dec. 1885, ambitious to make more of her life than was possible in her native land. Our subject has in her a true wife, and the Presbyterian CHurch a good working member. Mr. Brierton is an earnest thinker, with a mind well stored with facts, and with opinions of his own on all subjects with which he is familiar. He has no faith in religious creeds, but his principles are high and his conduct is irreproachable. He cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln and ever been loyal to the Republican part.

Mr. Joseph Brierton left an estate of over $100,000 and the division of the estate was made without an administrator, with the help of one man outside the family - Jason C. Ayers - and each heir was entirely satisfied with the division, and the whole cost amount to $100; something remarkable in the history of settling up large estates.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892 Pg 251


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