Lee County Biography

William Burd
Willow Creek Township

William Burd, though not one of the earliest settlers of Lee County, may well be classed among its pioneer's, as he has done valuable work in helping his fellow farmers to redeem the rich, virgin soil of this part of Illinois from its former wild condition, since he set­tled within its precincts not far from forty years ago, and he has a farm that compares with the ~ best in its equipments and improvements, its fertile fields neatly fenced, it's buildings well-kept and convniently arranged, and its out buildings made attractive by the beautiful shade and choice fruit trees carefully planted by his own hands.

Our subject was born May 17, 1827, in Hampshire County, W. VA. His father, whose name is Peter Burd, was born in Hunterdon County, N.J., and when a young man went from his native State to that part of Virginia now included in Hampshire County,W. Va. He bought a tract of wild land seven or eight miles from Romney, built a log cabin on his place and entered heartily into its hard pioneer task of improving his land, on which he made his home until his untimely death, in 1839, when his community lost a good citizen, the people among whome he had lived a kind neighbor, and his family a good husband and father. His widow, whose maiden name was Julia Ann Willard, and who was born in Bucks County, Pa., a daughter of Jacob Willard, was left withs even childrento care for. Nobly did she perform her duty, and kept her offspring together on the homestead ujntil they were grown to manhood and womanhood, and then came to Illinois and spent her last years a welcome inmate of their homes. Four of her childre, are still living.

Our subject was a strong, self-reliant lad of twelve years when his father died, and was already of much use on the farm, At the age of fourteen he was bound out to learn the trade of a tanner, and received his board and clothes in rec­ompense for his services. At the end of seven years he was given $50, and with that, and a good knowledge of his trade, he began life on his own account. He went to Bucks County, Pa., and car­ried on the tannery business there the ensuing three years. He then went back to his native State, and was a resident of West Virginia until the fall of 1852, when he came to Illinois, travel­ing by the most convenient route at that time, and journeying by rail, by stage, and on foot. After seven days he arrived at Twin Grove, in what is now Willow Creek Township. At that time Nature had it pretty nearly her own way in this part of the country, as but few settlers had ventured here. There was no railway in this part of the State for two years after he came here, and deer and other kinds of wild game were plentiful, and furnished an agreeable addition to the fare of the pioneers.

Mr. Burd began life here on a farm in some one's else employ for a year, and then bought a land warrant for a quarter of a section of land, which comprises his present farm in Willow Creek Township. The warrant cost him $150, and there was an additional expense of $4, making the total cost of the homestead $154. Buying the land exhausted his finances, so he was obliged to resort to renting improved land for the next two years in order to earn his livelihood. At the expiration of that time he entered vigorously upon the work before him of reclaiming a farm from the wilderness, aud the success that has met his efforts has been recorded in the first part of this biography.

Our subject is eminently a self-made man, and through the sheer force of industrious habits, close attention to his work, and by exorcising close calculation in the management of his affairs, no less than by fair and honest dealings in all his transac­tions, be has risen to be oue of the substantial farmers of the township with whose interests his own have so long been identified.

Since 1867, when he was united in marriage with Miss Mary Frances Thompson, he has had the active co-oper'ation of a wife who is a true helpmate. Mrs. Burd is also a native of Hampshire County, W. Va., and is a daughter of Robert and Zulimma Thompson, of whom an account appears in the biography of R. .J. Thompson. Three chil­dren have blessed the union of our subject and his wife; Mary F., .James W. and Nettie May.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL


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