PETER KEPLINGER. Among the old residents and worthy citizens of Honey Point Township is Peter Keplinger, who was born in Washington County, Tenn., August 7, 1815. His grandfather, Jacob, removed to that county from Pennsylvania, and buying timber land for a farm became a pioneer and resided in Tennessee until his death. He had a son John who came to Illinois with his wife, Elizabeth Rubel, to whom he was united in marriage December 18, 1806, and with them brought their nine children. They came overland with five horses attached to one wagon and four horses to another, and in addition had a one-horse gig. They journeyed slowly, camping out on the way and after several weeks arrived in Morgan County.
John and Elizabeth Keplinger were the parents of ten children, of whom our subject was fifth in the order of birth. He was fifteen years old when he came to Illinois, and he had enjoyed but scant opportunities for obtaining an education and school advantages were still poorer in the new home. The family spent some time in Morgan County and then came to a point near Jacksonville. The settlers gathered around the edges of the timber, reserving the prairie for grazing purposes, as it was not then known that the prairie land was good for farming. Peter Keplinger remained at home and worked for his father until he was twenty-one and then began life on his own account.
The marriage of our subject to Miss Sarah E. Harris was celebrated February 28, 1839. She was also a native of East Tennessee, being born in Elizabethtown, Carter County, May 10, 1820. Her father, Benjamin Harris, was a native of Maryland and a soldier in the War of 1812. Her mother, Mary Ragan, was a Virginia, whose father, Jeremiah Ragan, had been one of the Revolutionary heroes. Both Mr. and Mrs. Keplinger had brothers who served in the Black Hawk War. Primitive housekeeping was "all the rage" in those days and homemade furniture was most popular. By industry and economy the young couple gathered together enough money to purchase some land. Upon it they moved in the fall of 1843, put up a little log house and began breaking the land.
The nearest market in those days was Alton, and to this place Mr. Keplinger hauled his wheat and oats, selling the former for forty cents, and the latter for ten cents a bushel. Flouring mills were scarce, the nearest one being at Edwardsville. There was a rude kind of horse mill which was nearer but it turned out a black looking substance which no housewife now-a-days would think of making into bread. Our subject has braved the hardships of a pioneer life, and has lived to see the country dotted over with farm houses of architectural beauty, to see first-classing flouring mills in every town in the county, and to find a good home market for every kind of farm produce. His first log house was of crude material and structure and he rived boards to cover its roof.
Money was very scarce then and almost everything had to be obtained by barter. Just before coming to the new home he had sold a pair of three-year-old steers for $7.50 each, and when a man offered to go to a sawmill to get boards which Mr. Keplinger needed he pulled out his pocket book and the neighbors were astonished at the sight of $15.00. Such a large amount of ready cash was notable indeed, and he was called the moneyed man of the neighborhood. At one time a brother-in-law was hard beset to raise the money to pay his taxes. He had grain but there was no sale for that in the neighborhood. He finally traded some oats for pigs which he was able to dispose of to Mr. Keplinger for cash and thus obtained the wherewithal to pay his taxes. For many years the people lived almost entirely upon the products of their farms and the women spun and wove and made all the cloth that was used in the family.
Mr. Keplinger lost by death the wife of his youth August 30, 1887. His second marriage took place March 1, 1888, when he was united with Mrs. Parthena (Clark) Crowder. She was born in Randolph County, N.C., June 3, 1826, and is a daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Johnson) Clark. Mrs. Keplinger's paternal grandfather, Robert Johnson, was a farmer and carpenter who removed from North Carolina to Tennessee and there purchased a farm upon which he spent his last years. Mr. Clark died in 1827, leaving his widow with a family of small children. She removed to Knox County, Tenn., and died there in 1839. These doubly orphaned children bravely kept together until all were grown, when they secured for themselves homes of their own and entered successfully upon life's duties. Mrs. Keplinger early learned to spin and weave flax, cotton tow and wool, and for many years all the cloth used in the family was made by herself and her sisters. In 1850 the family removed to Illinois and settled in Macoupin County, where she resided with her brothers until her marriage in 1854 to Mr. Mark Crowder.
That gentleman was one of the thoroughly self-made men of Carlinville, who at the age of nineteen started out in life for himself, determined to have a thorough education. After attending the common schools he entered Shurtleff college at Upper Alton. He attended here for four years, maintaining himself by working at the coopers' trade during vacations. For years he followed the profession of teaching and was afterward Assessor of Macoupin County. He was a private in Company A, One Hundred and Twenty-second Illinois Regiment. He was wounded in the thigh at the battle of Parker's Cross Road, and being disabled from further duty, was discharged February 3, 1864. After returning home he engaged in mercantile business and was then elected City Marshal. Parthena C. Clark was his second wife and she bore him four children, all of whom have passed away.
Peter Keplinger has two children living: James T. and Sarah Ellen. The son married Sarah Entrican and has seven children: Effie, William, Peter, Luther, Clara, Mabel and Millie. The daughter is the wife of Luther J. Wilder, and has five children: Meldrum, Newton, Ethel, Earl, and Pearl, the last two being twins. James T. was a soldier in the Thirtieth Illinois Infantry and was with Sherman in his celebrated march "from Atlanta to the Sea". Another son, John served in the First Marine Brigade of Illinois Volunteers. After one year's service he was taken down with the consumption. His father brought him home from the hospital and sent him to Minnesota hoping that this would restore his health, but all was in vain. While Mr. and Mrs. Keplinger were living in Morgan County they became connected with the Methodist Church and now belong to the church in Carlinville. The main elements that have entered into Mr. Keplinger's success are untiring energy and industry. His character has never been tarnished by any acts of dishonesty and he bears a reputation of strict integrity. He has contributed largely to the progress and growth of the county, and as such a man we are pleased to record his name and present his portrait to our readers.