BENJAMIN F. WAGGONER - Mr. Waggoner comes of German ancestry. His great-grandfather, Adam Waggoner, emigrated from the vicinity of the Rhine in Germany, to America, in the year 1765. He settled in Montgomery county, Virginia, where David Waggoner, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was born, raised, and married. In the year 1816 David Waggoner removed to Allen county, Kentucky, and afterward to Grayson county, where he died. Mr. Waggoner's father, William Waggoner, was born in Montgomery county, Virginia, August 4, 1798, and was about eighteen years of age when he moved with his father to Kentucky. He subsequently went to Grayson county in the same state, where in April, 1823, he married Sarah Goforth. She was of Irish descent, and was born on Duck river, in Tennessee, of which part of the state her father was an early settler. William Waggoner, in the year 1828, emigrated from Grayson county, Kentucky, to Greene county, Illinois, and settled on Link's branch, three miles south-east of Carrollton. The family were among the pioneer settlers of that part of the county. Four or five years after their arrival Benjamin Franklin Waggoner was born, February 9, 1833. He was the fifth of a family of eleven children, consisting of six boys and five girls.
His education advantages were limited to the subscription schools held in log school houses, after the manner of pioneer times forty years ago. While these opportunities were necessarily narrow and limited, and he never went to school a single day after he was sixteen years of age, yet he obtained a fair English education. His father moved with the family to Macoupin county in 1851, and died in December, 1853. After his father's death he carried on farming operations in partnership with his five brothers. They bought land on time and devoted themselves to its improvement and cultivation with such energy and perseverance, that they were soon free from incumbrance. The names of his brothers were David D. Waggoner, William Waggoner, John V. Waggoner, Christopher C. Waggoner, and Joseph Waggoner. All are now deceased with the exception of Joseph, who resides at Carlinville. David C. died of typhoid fever in 1857; Christopher died in 1858; William in 1860, leaving a wife and one child; and John V. in 1865. The three latter died of consumption, and all are buried at the old Hilyard graveyard, near the Waggoner farm in Hilyard township.
Since 1865 Mr. Waggoner has carried on farming operations by himself, and he owns 560 acres of land in Hilyard township. He was married August 29, 1855, to Mary E. Davis. Mrs. Waggoner was born near Woodburn, September 1, 1838; her father, Samuel Davis, was one of the early settlers of Bunker Hill township; her mother was Zerelda Gore, a sister to David and Michael Gore. Mr. and Mrs. Waggoner have had seven children: Alla E., William C., Edgar, John V., Mattie, Benjamin F. and Mary E. Alla E., Edgar, John V., and Benjamin F. are deceased.
He first became old enough to take an active part in political matters at the time of the Kansas-Nebraska troubles, when the question as to whether these territories should be admitted into the Union as states with free or slave constitutions, was an important one to the American people. He embraced the "popular sovereignty" doctrines of the Douglas branch of the democratic party, though in sentiment he had always opposed the further extension of slavery. When the war of the rebellion broke out, he saw the necessity of giving all sympathy possible to the Republican administration, and he has since been an active supporter of the principles of the Republican party. His failing health of late years has prevented him from undergoing the vigorous work to which he was accustomed in early life, and he has also on this account in the hope of finding relief, undertaken extensive travels in different years to California and the Southern States. An illustration of his farm and residence occupies the whole of another page. His unassuming tastes have inclined him to lead the quiet and retired life of a peaceful farmer, but as much as any one in Hilyard township, he deserves mention in this work as a man who combines himself the qualities which make a good neighbor, and useful and enterprising citizen.