JOSEPH L. COSNER, one of the leading merchants of Virginia, was born on a farm in Philadelphia precinct, Cass county, Illinois, June 26, 1855. Of his life and ancestry we record the following facts:
Thomas Jefferson Cosner, his father, was born in Lincoln county, North Carolina, July 31, 1815, son of Henry Cosner, who is supposed to have been a native of the same State. The latter was a blacksmith by trade, at which he worked in Lincoln county till about 1830, when he went to Indiana, being accompanied by his wife and six children, camping along the way and being six weeks in making the journey. He became one of the early settlers of Monroe county; bought a claim and entered a tract of Government land two and one-half miles west of Mt. Tabor. There was a log house on the placed and a garden spot cleared. He worked at his trade, devoted his spare time to the improvement of his land, and lived there until his death. The maiden name of his first wife, grandmother of Joseph L., was Elizabeth Isahower. She was born in North Carolina, and died in Monroe county, Indiana. She reared seven children, viz.: Elizabeth, Sally, Joseph, Thomas J., Andrew, Lewis and Maria. Thomas J. was fifteen years old when his parents moved to Indiana, and he remained there with his father till 1836, when, in company with his brother-in-law, Martin Goble, he came to Illinois, making the journey by team. Here he was employed at farm work, first receiving $9 per month, and later $13. He continued to work for one man, Jacob Epler, the greater part of the time for a dozen years. He then purchased 120 acres of raw prairie land, built a small frame dwelling, and commenced housekeeping. He was successful as a farmer, bought other lands, and is now the owner of 436 acres, all in township 17. He erected a good set of frame buildings on his farm, and continued his residence there, with the exception of short periods spent in Virginia, until 1887, when he removed to Virginia, and now lives retired. He was married in 1850, to Emily (Stevenson) Beard, who was born one mile from Lexington, Fayette county, Kentucky, December 20, 1827. Her father, Thomas Stevenson, is supposed to have been a native of the same county, his father having been a pioneer of Fayette county, where he spent his last years. Thomas Stephenson spent his life on a farm, and died near Lexington, in 1831. The maiden name of his wife was Lucy Wyatt, she being a native of Kentucky and a daughter of Walter Wyatt. Her father was a Virginian by birth. He was one of the pioneers of Fayette county, and from there, in 1835, moved to Illinois, settling on Indian creek in Morgan county, where he bought land, improved a farm, and resided there till his death. The maiden name of his wife was Julia Bliss. She, too, was a native of Virginia, and died in Morgan county, Illinois. After the death of Mr. Wyatt, she was married to John Creel, and came to Illinois in 1837, settling ten miles northeast of Jacksonville, where she resided till her death. The mother of our subject was ten years old when she came to Illinois with her parents, and remembers well the incidents of the overland journey and of pioneer life here. She assisted her mother in the household duties when quite young, and learned to card, spin and weave. After the death of her mother she went to live with her sister, with whom she made her home until her seventeenth year, when she married Maston Beard. He was a farmer of Morgan county, and died there. The parents of Mrs. Cosner are both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They reared seven children, viz.: John T. and Jacob deceased; Henry, Joseph L., Lucy, George and Mollie.
Joseph L. Cosner was reared on a farm. He attended the district school a portion of each year, and subsequently advanced his education by a two years' course at Virginia. In 1874 he commenced his mercantile career as a clerk in the store of William B. Payne, and clerked five years. In 1879 he started for the gold fields of Colorado; prospected and mined about a year; had little success in finding gold, and returned home and engaged in farming. A year later he formed a partnership with J. J. Bergen, with whom he has associated in the mercantile business three years, after which the partnership dissolved. He then bought out the firm of Bergslesser & Jones, and has since conducted business alone. He carries an extensive stock of dry goods, clothing, hats, boots and shoes, fancy goods, etc., and does a large business.
Mr. Cosner has an inherent love for fine horses, and, in company with his brother George, is engaged in breeding the same.
He was married June 26, 1888, to Mary Gale Armentrout, who was born in Roodhouse, Illinois, daughter of Adam C. and S. E. Armentrout. She departed this life January 8, 1892, at the age of twenty-five years, six months and twenty-two days. Mrs. Cosner was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.