REV. LUKE DILLIARD, who resides on section 31, Gillespie Township, is numbered among the honored pioneers of the county. Few men have here so long resided. He came in 1838, and has since continuously made his home within the borders of Macoupin County, where he has labored untiringly for the upbuilding of its best interests and promotion of those enterprises which are calculated to enhance the general welfare. He comes of a race of farmers who for several generations had resided in North Carolina. His grandparents lived and died in that State and his father, Mark Dilliard, was also there born. He learned the cooper's trade and in North Carolina married Milbery Elruner, who was also born of North Carolina parents. In later years Mark Dilliard and his wife with their children emigrated to Middle Tennessee, and located upon a farm where the husband and father died November 26, 1826, the age of fifty-six years, his birth having occurred March 20, 1770. Some five years later, in 1830, the widow emigrated with her family to Logan County, Ky., and in 1831, took up her residence in Todd County of the same State. Subsequently she returned to Robertson County, Tenn., and there lived during the great cholera epidemic in 1833, when many of her friends died. In 1836, she again went to Logan County, where she made her home until 1838, when with her children, our subject and Mrs. Wells, she started for Illinois with a company of others. They left their old home on the first Monday in October and traveling in covered wagons at length reached Brushy Mound Township, Macoupin County, on the last Saturday in November. At night they had camped out along the way and bore the usual experiences and hardships of such a journey.
Rev. Luke Dilliard was only three years of age when his father died and by his mother he was tenderly cared for until he was able to repay her by his care. There were five children in the family but only our subject and his sister, Mrs. Wells, of Wilson County, Kan., who is now seventy-five years of age, are yet living. After their arrival in this county they and the mother resided upon a rented farm until in 1844, when Mr. Dilliard secured a tract of land in Gillespie Township to which they removed and he began the development of the farm which has since been his home. It is located on section 31, and consisted first of only forty acres but from time to time, as his financial resources had increased, he extended its boundaries until it now comprises one hundred and thirty-eight acres which are under a high state of cultivation. He also yet owns sixty acres of pasture land and has other possessions which he has generously bequeathed to his children. He owned a valuable tract of two hundred and forty acres which is now owned by his eldest son, M. H. Dilliard, also in Gillespie Township. Upon a forty acre tract which he once possessed is a divide which separates the head waters of two of the important streams which drain this and other counties and ultimately empty into the Mississippi River. It is no easy task to develop a new farm but Mr. Dilliard worked industriously from early morning to late at night and each year saw an increased acreage under cultivation. The usual trials and difficulties of pioneer life fell to his lot but with a determination to win success he overcame all obstacles and won his way to a place among the substantial farmers of the community. The farm which he now owns is under most excellent cultivation, is well supplied with good buildings and the stock which he raises is of fine grades.
Upon life's journey Mr. Dilliard has been aided by one who has proved a true helpmate to him. On December 31, 1845, in St. Louis, Mo., he was united in marriage with Miss Nancy Adams, who was born near Cumberland Gap, Tenn., April 14, 1829, and is a daughter of Giles M. and Elizabeth (Miller) Adams, natives of North Carolina and South Carolina respectively. During childhood they went with their parents to East Tennessee, where they were married and lived until after their first two children were born. Mrs. Dilliard was about two months old when the little family came overland to Illinois and settled in the wilderness of Madison County near the boundary line of Edwards County. In 1831, Mr. Adams secured land from the Government in Gillespie Township, Macoupin County, where in a log cabin home they lived the life of true pioneers. Their first dwelling was replaced in 1843 by a good frame house and the following year a frame barn was built - the first of the kind in all this section of the country. In after years, when quite old, Mr. and Mrs. Adams left their homestead and went to live with their youngest son in Montgomery County, where they spent their last days, dying at an advanced age. They were well-known pioneers of Gillespie Township and highly respected people.
Mrs. Dilliard is the eldest daughter and second child of their family of five children, of whom the oldest and youngest are now deceased. Almost her entire life has been spent in Gillespie Township and among the people who have so long known her she has made many warm friends. Eight children have been born of the union of our subject and his wife, of whom they have lost two - Almeda who died in childhood and W. C. who died at the age of twenty-six years. Matthew, the eldest surviving member of the family, married Lulu Boyce and owns and operates a two hundred and forty-acre farm in Gillespie Township; Giles M., a farmer of Reno County, Kan., wedded Mattie McBride; James I., who married Mattie M. Needler, now deceased, is manager of the Belt & Dilliard Bank of Collinsville, Ill.; Lorenzo D., who has been blind from his birth, was educated in the Institute for the Blind at Jacksonville, and learned the trade of a brush-maker but has never followed it, being now engaged in the teaching of music. He is a skilled musician and has composed a number of pieces, displaying great ability; Edward, who wedded Catherine Roe, graduated from a medical college and is now successfully engaged in practice in Stillman Valley; Mary J., who graduated from the female college of Fulton, Mo., and was a successful teacher before her marriage, is now the wife of William Mattox, secretary of the coal company of Sorento, Ill. Mr. Dilliard has ever been a warm friend to the cause of education and provided his children with excellent advantages. All but one are graduates of some college and they have become useful en and women, respected members of society who do honor to their parents.
Mr. and Mrs. Dilliard have long been faithful members of the Baptist Church. He united with the church on the fourth Sunday in October, 1840, and in 1843, was licensed to preach. Three years later he was ordained, since which time he has been more or less actively connected with the work of the ministry in this county. The good which he has done cannot be estimated. He has aided in the organization of some of the leading churches of the county and by precept as well as example has led many to a knowledge of the truth. The educational interests of the community have been promoted through his efforts and since the winter of 1844-45, when he taught his first school he has been a well-known educator in this county. One winter he taught school every day in the week, singing school for four nights out of every week and on Sunday occupied the pulpit. His upright life has won him the respect and esteem of all with whom he has been brought in contact and his many acts of kindness and charity have won him the love of many who have been the recipients of his bounty. He has many friends and few, if any, enemies and no man is more deserving of a representation in this volume than the honored pioneer, Rev. Luke Dilliard. Mr. Dilliard is a Master Mason, he is a member of Bunker Hill Lodge No. 151.