JOSEPH B. HACKNEY has been a resident of Hilyard township since 1857. He is a native of the Empire State, and was born at Troy, March 20th, 1829. His father, William Hackney, was a blacksmith by trade, and while living at Troy was foreman of a foundry. His mother, Margaret Keglor, was descended from the early Dutch settlers who emigrated from Holland, and made the first settlements in New York. She was born at Albany, in 1794. The subject of this biography was the sixth of a family of nine children. He was seven years old when his father moved with the family to Illinois, and settled at Delhi, in Jersey county. He attended school at Troy, and afterwards in Jersey county. He was only seventeen years old at the time of the breaking out of the Mexican War. In September, 1847, when he was only a few months past eighteen, he enlisted in an independent company of horsemen raised at Upper Alton, for service in Mexico. This company was commanded by Captain Little, and left Alton in the fall of 1847, proceeded down the Mississippi to New Orleans, and from that city took passage for Vera Cruz. The company was detached to act as escort to a wagon train from Vera Cruz to Rio Freio, and was principally stationed at the latter place during their service in Mexico. There was no opportunity to participate in any important battles, but the company was engaged in several skirmishes, and the irregular guerrilla warfare which was carried on at intervals occasioned losses quite as severe as those which some of the regiments experienced which took part in prominent engagements. The men had enlisted for the war, and were stationed at Rio Freio at the time peace was declared. Soon afterward the company started for home, and reached Alton in July, 1848.
The summer of his coming back from Mexico, gold was discovered in California, and the reports which came from the Pacific coast gave wonderful accounts of the abundance of the precious metal, and the ease with which a fortune could be accumulated. He was one of the first to start out the next spring for the new El Dorado. He was a member of an expedition which set out from Jerseyville in the spring fo 1849, struck the plains in May, and reached Sacramento city in exactly six months from the date of leaving Jerseyville. Two of the men out of the sixty who composed the train died from cholera (which that summer prevailed greatly in St. Louis), but with this exception all reached California in safety. As soon as he reached the gold regions he went to work at mining. He was favored with more than ordinary success, accumulating in about a year upwards of three thousand dollars. He was at work on the Stanislaus and Yuba rivers. He started for home in December, 1850, making the return trip by way of the Isthmus of Panama. During this expedition to California he was accompanied by his brother. He had intended to return to California, but finally concluded to settle in Illinois, and bought, in partnership with his brother, three hundred and twenty acres of land, in section 25, township 8, range 8. This, at that time, was all raw prairie, and they went to work brought it under cultivation, and farmed in partnership till 1860. From 1860 till 1867 he resided in Jersey county. His marriage occurred December 24, 1864, at Chicago, to Mrs. Mary Lyman. Her maiden name was Mary Hackney. She was born at Troy, New York; afterward resided at Hartford, Connecticut; and came to Illinois in 1864. In 1867 he went to farming, where he now resides. His farm consists of a hundred and seventy-five acres. A view of his residence may be seen on another page. Mr. Hackney has five children, Frederick, Paul, Albert, Harry and Lottie. Mrs. Hackney has also a son named George Lyman, by her deceased husband. Politically Mr. Hackney is a democrat. He is known as one of the substantial, enterprising and progressive farmers of Hilyard township. He has never held public office, nor has he aspired to any other position than that of a private citizen and a plain and unassuming farmer.