JESSE W. WOODROOF was born in Bedford county, Virginia, January 17th, 1819. Edmund Lee Woodroof, his father, was also a native of the same state. He married Mary Reynolds, who was a near relative of the Lees, a family famous in the history of Virginia. The subject of our sketch is the eldest in a family of nine children, five of whom have survived the parents. The elder Woodroof remained in Virginia until the fall of 1834, when he came to Illinois, and settled in Macoupin county, near where the town of Gillespie now stands; where he remained until October 8th, 1858, when he was killed by the kick of a horse. His wife, and mother of Jesse W., remained there until about five years ago, when she removed to Girard, where she at present resides.
The subject of our sketch spent a small portion of his boyhood days in the schools of his native state, and received about nine months schooling all told. This was the sum total of all his educational advantages. He remained at home until 1843, when, on the 27th day of December, of that year, he was united in marriage to Miss Clara H. Hartwell. She was a native of Boston, Mass. Her parents came to Illinois in 1835, and settled at what is now known as Dry Point. In 1843, he entered eighty acres of land in Gillespie township, and the same year commenced its improvement and built a house on it, and moved into it in the spring of 1845. He afterwards added to more eighties to it, and cultivated it until the summer of 1850, when he removed to Carlinville, where he built a store-house, and then went to St. Louis and purchased a stock of general merchandise. He remained in Carlinville until 1853, when the Chicago and Alton railroad was completed to the place where Girard now stands. Here he also erected a store-house, - which was the second building in the town, and commenced again the merchandising business. He also built the first warehouse in the town. In 1856, he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in Nilwood township, and opened it up and improved it. In 1854 and ‘55, he commenced dealing in grain, and continued it for several years. In 1855 he sold out his stock of goods, and continued farming and purchasing grain until 1868, when he sold out and came to Girard. He afterwards purchased three hundred and twenty acres of land in Montgomery county which he still retains. In 1869, he erected the Farmers' Mill and Elevators, and commenced operating them January 1st, 1870. This has been his principal business up to the present time, in which he has been very successful. One child, a daughter, Emily, has been born to them. She is still beneath the parental roof.
Mr. Woodroof's life has been a busy one. He started in Illinois in the pioneer era of the state. He is a republican in politics. He cast his first vote for Harrison and Tyler, in 1840. After the old-line whig party disbanded, he joined the republican party, in 1856, and has been a consistent member of that political organization ever since. He has been frequently solicited to run for office, but he prefers to attend to his business and keep on in the even tenor of his way, than to engage in the uncertainties and perplexities of politics. He is inclined to a liberal belief in religious matters. He is a member of the ancient and honorable order of A.F. & A.M., and I.O.O.F.
Mr. Woodroof attributes his success in life to certain rules of conduct that he adopted in early life, and these were: to run his business, and never allow the business to run him; to never misrepresent anything, if he knew it, for the sake of gain, and to be kind and considerate to men in his employ. His strict adherence to these rules have brought their reward.