ARK S. ASHWORTH owns and occupies a finely cultivated farm of 120 acres on section 24, in North Okaw Township, where he ranks as a first-class agriculturist, and beside manipulating the soil to profit and advantage, is giving much attention to the raising of graded stock. Mr. Ashworth is a native of Mercer County, Va., born March 1, 1838, and is the sixth in a family of twelve children, the offspring of Cornelius C. and Hannah (Mooney) Ashworth, also natives of the old Dominion. Cornelius Ashworth followed farming the greater part of his life, to which he had been reared by his father, Samuel. The latter in early manhood married Miss Vandusen, and it is supposed that both were also natives of Virginia. |
The father of our subject, after his marriage, removed with his family from his native State to Shelby County, this State, in about 1854. A year later he came to Coles County, which was then almost a wilderness, and where Mark S., our subject, herded cattle upon land which he would not have accepted to the amount of ten sections, as a gift. The mother of our subject was the daughter of John and Mary (Stoneman) Mooney, the former a soldier of the Revolutionary War. After the conflict was ended, he settled down in his native State of Virginia, and both parents there spent their declining years.
The subject of this sketch remained a member of his father’s household until twenty-one years of age. His early education was exceedingly limited, but he felt the necessity of more learning, and accordingly set about the study of useful books and also preparing himself to give instructions to others. In due time he had succeeded admirably and attended the first school in what is now the city of Mattoon. He followed the profession of a teacher for nine years in this county, and then, desirous of establishing a permanent home, abandoned teaching and purchased the land which constitutes his present homestead. He was married Oct. 20, 1870, to Miss Ann M., third and youngest child of John and Maria (Mallinson) Thornton, natives of England, who emigrated to the United States and settled in Illinois during the pioneer days. Mrs. Ashworth was born in Cook County, Nov. 21, 1844. Her father owned a small piece of land, but was mainly engaged as a cabinet-maker and a carpenter.
After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Ashworth located on the land which they now occupy, and Mr. A. in course of time erected a neat frame residence in place of the humble dwelling in which they first set up housekeeping. He was successful in his farming operations, and has accumulated a fair competency. The household circle was completed by the birth of six children, all living, and named respectively, Elmer, Bertie, Ralph, Leila, Flora and George. All are at home with their parents, and with them are members in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which Mr. Ashworth has served as Trustee, and has been a liberal and cheerful contributor to its support.
Politically he has been identified with the Democratic party since exercising the right of suffrage, and has held the various local offices, being Town Clerk five years, Assessor four years, Collector two years, and representing the township in the County Board of Supervisors. The farm stock, which comprises one of the most attractive features of the homestead, consists of thoroughbred English draft horses, full-blooded Short-horn cattle and Poland-China hogs, among which Mr. Ashworth is able to exhibit some fine specimens.