Jeptha Plaster

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 498-500, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  Jeptha Plaster, an esteemed pioneer of Cass county, Illinois, for four years Associate Justice, and a prominent citizen of Chandlerville, was born in Robinson county, Tennessee, March 19, 1827.
  His parents, Thomas and Elizabeth (Batts) Plaster, were also natives of Tennessee, the families on both sides being prominent in the State, many members holding responsible public offices. Thomas and Mary Plaster, the paternal grandparents, were natives of North Carolina, who accompanied their son to Illinois in an early day. The grandfather was a devout and able Baptist minister, who, besides successfully conducting a farm, preached throughout Cass and adjacent counties, doing much good in the dissemination of moral and religious knowledge. No opportunity escaped him of enlightening the people in regard to their obligations, and urging upon them a conscientious fulfillment of their duties. On one occasion, when the subject of this sketch and his grandfather were on their way to the mill, the old gentleman, seeing a group of people, addressed them in an impressive discourse, after which he and his grandson resumed their journey. The grandparents lived to a very old age, and were the recipients of wide-spread and universal esteem. The maternal grandparents, Jeremiah Batts and wife, were life-long and respected residents of Tennessee, where they died at an advanced age greatly mourned by a large circle of friends. The father of the subject of this sketch grew to manhood in his native State of Tennessee, and was there married. A few years after marriage, in the spring fo 1828, leaving his family in Tennessee, he came alone to Illinois, and located on Government land. In the fall of the same year, he returned after his family, who, with his parents, accompanied him on his removal to the Prairie State. The journey was made overland with an ox team and cart, several weeks being consumed on the way. Once, their cart broke down, and they were obliged to trade a horse for a wagon with which to proceed. On their arrival in Illinois, the grandfather settled on Government land in Morgan county, which then embraced what is now Cass County, the latter having been formed out of Morgan county territory in 1835. The father continued to live on rented land for a year or two, when he removed to his own farm. For twelve or fourteen years, he and his family occupied a little log cabin. This was subsequently replaced by a better log and frame house, which, in 1853, gave place to a substantial farm residence. His father purchased all his early supplies in Beardstown, which then boasted of but one log store. The country abounded in wild game, such as deer, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, prairie chicken, etc., which, supplemented by the products of the farm, formed th diet of the frontiersman. Thus, industriously and happily, the parents passed their lives on the old homestead, which they had reclaimed from the wilderness. It was in this home, made sacred by many ties, that the beloved mother expired at the age of fifty-five years. The father survived her but a short time, dying in 1858, aged fifty-six, as if unable to endure separation from his life-long companion. This worthy couple had nine children, three of whom survive: the subject of this sketch; Mrs. Richard M. Johnson, living in Chandlerville precinct, Cass county, Illinois; and Mrs. Elizabeth Layman, residing in Lincoln, Logan county, same State.
  Jeptha Plaster, whose name heads this memoir, spent his early days on the old homestead, and received his education at a subscription school and from private instruction at his teacher's home. In those days, it was customary for the teacher to board around in the various families of the neighborhood, each person subscribing toward the support of the school, according to the number of children sent. Our subject's father agreed to send two pupils, but usually sent and paid for three.
  When twenty-one years of age, Mr. Plaster rented land from his father, which he farmed until 1852, at which time, induced by the gold excitement in California, he went overland to that State, where he spent a year and a half prospecting and mining. He then returned to his old home, and worked on his father's farm.
  On October 14, 1858, he married Miss Elizabeth Johnson, an estimable lady, and a native of Morgan, now Cass County, where she was born March 15, 1838. She was a daughter of John and Rosanna (Adkins) Johnson, both natives of Tennessee, who were early settlers and esteemed residents of this section of Illinois.
  Mr. Plaster continued to follow agricultural pursuits until 1880, when he bought his valuable city property, on which he erected his present comfortable residence, and retired from farm life. His father left at his death about 1,000 acres of land, of which Mr. Plaster now owns about 600 acres, a good share of which he bought.
  Coming of a family of lifetime Democrats, mr. Plaster has followed in their footsteps, casting his first vote in 1848 for Lewis Cass and William O. Butler for president and vice-president. His constituents have emphasized their appreciation of his ability and worth by electing him Associated Justice of Cass county in 1869. He is also a member of the School Board, his election to the latter position having been non-partisan and unsought, although he appreciates the honor.
  Such unanimous endorsement of Judge Plaster's worth renders further remarks on the subject only unnecessary but impertinent. He has brought to his office a varied and extended experience, unusual acumen, and sustained powers of thought and reason as well as a reputation above reproach, together with a kindly disposition, which can sympathize while condemning, thus winning the hearts of his fellow men.

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