John Leake

Lee County Biographies


Nachusa Township

John C. Leake. The son of one of the early pioneer families of this county, this gentleman has risen to an important place among its wide-awake, progressive farmers and stock raisers. He is of English birth and ancestry, but the most of his life has been passed on the fine old homestead on section 28, Nachusa Township, which was purchased by his father from the Government fifty years ago, when it was a wild tract of land, and has been in the possession of our subject since 1863.

He was born in Leicestershire, England, and was very young when brought to this country by his parents, John and Mary A. (Jarvis) Leake, who were of good English blood, coming from some of the old families of Leicestershire, where they were born and reared. The father was born in 1806, and was the son of a prosperous farmer and butcher of his native shire. He learned the trade of a butcher in his youth, and followed it for some years. After the birth of three sons in their old home, be and his wife decided to emigrate to America, and in 1841 set sail from Liverpool on a vessel bound for this country. They landed in New York City, and then started on the laborious journey Westward by the most expeditious route at that time, going by the Hudson River and Erie Canal to Buffalo, whence they made the voyage on the lakes to Chicago, and from there made their way with a team to their destination in Lee County.

John Leake was at that time in moderate circumstances, but he took up a tract of Government land, now included in the farm of his son John, went to work with characteristic vigor and persistency, and not only changed what was literally a part of the wilderness into a highly productive farm, but acquired the means to buy other land, and in time had a thousand acres of valuable realty. He thus bore a prominent part in the upbuilding of the county, and his name is held in honor among those of its most active and respected pioneers. A useful citizen was lost to his township when death closed his career in 1873. He and his estimable wife were members of the Episcopal Church, when they were in England, but after coming to this country they united with the Methodists, and were always generous and zealous working members of that denomination to which they belonged.

Our subject early acquired an insight into the principles of farming and gained a valuable experience in that line before he began to pursue agriculture on his own account. He owns three hundred and eighty acres of highly cultivated land, and has made several valuable improvements, including a fine set of buildings, of a good style of architecture and replete with modern conveniences. His herds of cattle, horses and hogs are of the breeds that are best adapted to this country and compare with the finest in the neighborhood. He has made a careful study of his calling, is progressive in his ideas of farming and very successful in putting them into execution. A man of his strength of character and mental calibre necessarily exercises a certain amount of influence in his community, and his neighbors and fellow_citizens find iii him a safe and thoughtful counselor. They have frequently called him to take charge of some local office, and he has represented Nachusa Township as a member of the County Board of Supervisors two years. In his political convictions he is a steadfast Republican. Religiously he is of the Congregational faith, and he and his estimable wife belong to that church.

The maiden name of the wife of our subject, to whom he was married in this county, was Mary E. Hale. She was born in Ohio, and was a small girl when her parents, L. W. and Sarah A. (Crawford) Hale, came to Lee County and settled among its pioneers. Here they lived awl labored for many years and built up a comforta,ble home in China Township, wherc the good old mother is still living, and at the age of seventy-three years is bright and active. The father rounded out a long and honorable life of seventy-seven years, dying on his old homestead, in July, 1884. Mrs. Leake is one of a family of six children, of whom three are yet living. She was well educated and won a high reputation as a teacher, in which profession she was engaged in this county for some years before marriage. S he became the mother of four children: Charles W., Grace M., Jennie F. and T. Wilbur; all are deceased excepting Wilber, a young man of much promise, who makes his home with his parents.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co Pg 679


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