John Smith Peoria Co. Portrait and Biographical Album 1890
John Smith is a native of Peoria County, and is now occupying a prominent place among the intelligent, well-to-do and enterprising young farmers who are doing so much to develop and extend its marvelous agricultural interests. He owns a valuable and well-improved farm on the southeast quarter of section 14, Princeville Township, his place of birth. His father, John Smith, was an old and prominent settler of this locality, and was one of the leading farmers of the township.
Mr. Smith, the elder, was a native of Lanarkshire Scotland, his father bearing the same name as himself, being also a native of that place. John was a name in the family for four hundred years back to the time of William Wallace. The grandfather of our subject became a soldier in the English army when a young man and followed a military life for nine years, being a member of the Seventy-first Glasgow Regiment. He was in Spain with Wellington and was wounded in the shoulder during the Peninsula War. He left the army before the battle of Waterloo. At the battle of Coronna he was wounded in the breast and was taken prisoner and imprisoned six months. He was finally discharged from the army at the age of thirty years, he being one of five brothers who enlisted. He returned Glasgow, where he was engaged as a cotton dresser, following that until he came to America and became quite well off. In 1842 he embarked for this country, landed in New Orleans, and from there went to S. Louis. He had started with a colony for Texas, but as the yellow fever was so deadly in that quarter that season, they had changed course of their journey. He lived in St. Louis awhile and in 1844 came from there to Peoria, and invested in some Government land on section 7, Princeville Township, and made his home on it until his death in March, 1852. He was a Presbyterian and was strong in the faith.
The father of our subject was reared in Scotland and his first occupation when he became self-supporting was as a clerk in a bookstore. Subsequently he learned the trade of a dresser of cotton. In 1842, he came to the United States by the way of Canada. He was engaged on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, between New Orleans and St. Louis and even beyond the head of navigation on the Missouri until 1845, when he settled here. He bought Government land on section 7, of this township, improved it, and was actively engaged in farming and stock-raising and acquired a valuable property, being at one time owner of three hundred and twenty acres of exceptionally fine farming land. He was ever liberal and public- spirited and bore an honorable part in local affairs, especially in educational matters, and at various times held different school offices. He was a strong Republican in his political views and gave generous support to his party. Religiously, he was a Presbyterian, and was in every way an exemplary Christian gentleman. His death here May 27, 1890, at the age of sixty-seven years, two months and thirteen days, was a loss to the citizenship of Princeville.
The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Jane Payne, and she was born in Carroll County, Va., coming of a worthy family. Her father, Walter Payne, was also a Virginian by birth and was a farmer by occupation. He was a soldier in the War of 1812. About 1840 he came to Illinois and settled in the timber in Princeville Township, and carried on his farming operations here until he retired from active life, and from that time he made his home with a daughter in Toulon, where he died. The mother of our subject, a highly respected lady, is still residing on the old homestead. Of her marriage eight children were born: Isabelle, Mrs. Martin, of this township; Rachael, Mrs. Chase of Akron Township; John; Walter, of Gage County, Neb.; Mary J., with her mother in Princeville Township; Margaret A., Mrs. Miller, who died in Gage County, Neb.; William W., of Gage county, Neb., and Lizzie, Mrs. Lewis of Salt Lake City.
The subject of this biographical review was born in Princeville Township, July 15, 1852 and was reared to man's estate on his father's homestead. He gleaned a good education in the district and graded schools which he attended during the winter session until of age and he then entered Cole's Business college in Peoria, from which he was graduated after pursuing an excellent course. Leaving college he returned home and entered upon his career as a farmer on his father's farm, remaining with his parents until he was twenty-three. After his marriage, in the fall of 1875, our subject located on his present place and has since been actively engaged in its improvement, and has developed it from its original state to its present fine condition, breaking a part of the prairie sod himself, and in 1880 he purchased it from its former owner. It comprises the southeast quarter of section 18, and its one hundred and sixty acres are already under admirable tillage and are well hedged, and provided with a neat dwelling good barns and other necessary buildings. It is a very desirable piece of property and is well watered by the creek and a never-failing supply of running water, has fine groves and orchards and is well adapted to raising grain, corn and oats. Mr. Smith has two teams of Clydesdale and Shire horses of good grade, and has a number of full blooded Poland-China hogs, paying much attention to raising that animal for the markets.
Mr. Smith and Miss Bessie A. Rowcliffe were married in Jubilee, October 27, 1875, and their wedded life has proved a mutual benefit and has been a happy one. Mrs. Smith is a daughter of Hon. William Rowcliffe, of Jubilee Township, of whom see biography on another page of this volume. Mr. Smith was born in Erie county, Ohio January 16, 1848, and was a child when she came to Illinois with her parents. She is a lady of true culture, having received the advantages of an excellent education. When she was seventeen years old she entered the Illinois Normal School, and was a pupil in that institution for six months. She afterward engaged in the profession of teaching for some nine years in Jubilee and Radnor. She is the mother of four children-Roy B., Jessie G., Flossie M., and John H.
Mr. Smith is endowed with strength of character and a moral and mental makeup that place him among those whose citizenship is most honorable to his native township and county. His sturdy, practical traits and thrifty habits have been very advantageous to him in the prosecution of his calling and have already put him among the men of easy circumstances in Princeville. He is a stalwart among the Republicans, one of the leaders of the party in this vicinity and has been a delegate to county conventions. Religiously he is of the Presbyterian faith.
Submitted by Londie Benson.