JOSEPH LEE, one of the honored early settlers of the county, now living a retired life in Brighton, after engaging for many years in active business as a farmer, was born in Somersetshire, England, on January 15, 1826. His father and grandfather were both named Charles Lee. The latter was a small English farmer and died in Somersetshire. The father of our subject was born and eared in that county, and a few years after his marriage rented a small farm upon which he spent the remainder of his life. It is yet in the family, being now occupied by Thomas Lee, a brother of our subject. Charles Lee, Jr., was united in marriage with Mrs. Sarah Combs, nee Hayes, who by her first marriage had one child, deceased, while by the second union nine children were born, six sons and three daughters. Only two ever came to this country and remained to make their homes in America, namely: Joseph and Charles, the latter, now a resident farmer of Montgomery County. One of the sons is now deceased. The father of this family died at the age of sixty years and his wife passed away in 1875, at the age of seventy-three years.
Joseph Lee, whose name heads this sketch, spent his childhood days in his native land and under the parental roof attained to years of maturity. His education was acquired in the common schools and being supplemented by reading and observation he has become a well-informed man. He was married in England to Miss Caroline Combs, who was also born an reared in Somersetshire. Their union was blessed with one child before they left their native land - Edmund, who is now deceased. Hoping to better their financial condition and more rapidly acquire a competence in the New World, they sailed for America on April 3, 1851, as passengers on board the "Cosmo," and on May 3, set foot on American soil. From New York City they came at once to the West, traveling to Wisconsin, and thence to Godfrey, Madison County, Ill., which was their first location. Mr. Lee then had but fifty cents in his pocket. He has also resided in Jersey and Madison Counties, and for some years resided upon a farm in Brighton Township, Macoupin County, where he still owns one hundred and twenty-one acres; also a seventy-nine acre tract, making in all three hundred and twenty-two and a fraction acres, constituting one of the best farms in that locality.
In 1890, Mr. Lee was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died in Brighton in the month of June, in the faith of the Methodist church of which she was a member. She left five children, all of whom were born in this country - George H. who operates his father's farm; Mary J., wife of John Durston, a farmer in Montgomery County, died August 9, 1891; Anna M., wife of James Tucker, a resident farmer of Brighton Township; Sarah who keeps house for her father; and Edwin who married Anna Lyons and is living on a farm in Brighton Township.
Mr. lee is a self made man, having worked his way upward to a position of affluence. By energy and perseverance he overcame the obstacles and difficulties in his path and is now one of the well-to-do citizens of the community, owning in addition to his valuable farm a fine resident property in Brighton. Honesty and fairness have characterized all his dealings and his public and private life are alike above reproach. In political sentiment he is a Republican and has served as a member of the Village Board.