JOHN B. MASTERS is a descendant of some of the earliest pioneer families of Illinois, and is one of the native-born citizens of this State who has materially assisted in its agricultural development. For many years he was actively identified with the farmers of this county, owning and managing very profitably a large and well-improved farm. January 8, 1825, is the date of the birth of our subject in the pioneer home of his parents, fifteen miles northeast of the city of Jacksonville, in Morgan County. His father was William I. Masters, a native of South Carolina whose father is thought to have been born in wales or to have been a native of this country, but of Welsh parentage. He spent his last years in the Palmetto State, after having served faithfully as a soldier during the Revolution.
William I. Masters grew to manhood in his native State, and when about twenty-five years of age emigrated to Illinois in 1817 in the Territorial days of the State, accompanying a neighboring family hither, the removal being made with a team. He first settled for a time in Sangamon County, but after marriage took up his abode on a forty-acre tract of Government land in Morgan County. Someone unknown to him entered the land, and being thus deprived of his claim in 1827 he located on Government land that lay on both sides of the line between Morgan and Macoupin Counties. That part of his homestead in this county was situated in what is now North Palmyra Township and he was one of the pioneer settlers of this section, building a log house on the Morgan County side of the line. Not a nail entered the construction of that dwelling, and he rived the shingles by hand for the roof, hewed puncheon for a floor, split boards for the door, which was provided with wooden hinges, and the chimney was made with sticks and mud. At that time the people were home livers, subsisting on the products of their farms. The father of our subject raised sheep and also planted flax and hemp, and the mother used to card, spin and weave the wood and the fibre of the flax and hemp to make cloth for garments for her children. There were no railways in this part of the country for years, and for some time the father of our subject used to market his grain at St. Louis with ox-teams. His busy life was terminated by death on his homestead in 1840.
The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Nancy Jones, and she was a native of Kentucky. Her father, Clayborn Jones, was also a native of that State and was of Welsh descent. In the year 1800 he emigrated from his old home to the wilds of that part of the Northwestern Territory now embraced in Illinois, and was one of the first permanent settlers of the commonwealth. He secured a tract of timber land fifteen miles west of Springfield and resided upon it until his demise in 1840, his wife also dying there. The mother of our subject died on the home farm on the county line, 1838.
The parents of our subject reared four children, named as follows: Betsy, John B., Melissa and Phebe Ann. They were young when their parents died, and as John was the only son the care of his sisters devolved upon him and nobly did he shoulder his burden, supporting himself and them by working out by the month. In the fall of 1845 he went to Southwestern Missouri and renting land put in a crop in the spring of 1846. He soon sold his crop and returning to Illinois worked for a time near Carlinville. We next hear of him at Shaw's Point Township, where he was employed by the month for two years, and during that time saved money enough to buy a team. After that he was enabled to enter eighty acres of land on section 2, Honey Point Township. He built a small frame house thereon, and resided there three years. Meanwhile he bought other land adjoining his first purchase and erected a dwelling on the line between Honey Point and Shaw's Point, the house lying in both townships. As there were not people enough between his residence and Litchfield to organize a school district he decided to declare Honey Point Township his residence instead of Shaw's Point Township on account of its superior educational facilities. He has been very successful as a farmer and at one time owned five hundred acres of fine land, a part of which he has since deeded to his children. In 1891 he bought a residence at Carlinville, and now lives retired from active labor, enjoying an income ample for all his wants.
May 3, 1846, our subject took unto himself a wife in the person of Miss Nancy Sims, a daughter of James and Margaret (Robinson) Sims, and a native of this county, born April 3, 1826. The following are the children that have been born to Mr. And Mrs. Masters: James and John, now deceased; Melissa A., wife of Andrew Robinson, of Honey Point; Telitha M. And Margaret, both of whom are deceased; Charles, a resident of Shaw's Point Township; Emma, deceased; Kattie and Myrta who are at home; Philui Jane, wife of Dr. Buffington, of Atwater, and Henry I. Who lives in Honey Point Township.
Mr. Masters is a man of self-respecting character, is well dowered with those qualities necessary to success in life and to secure the confidence of others and no one is more deserving of trust and esteem than he. His fellow citizens have recognized his worth and capability, and have called him to important offices. He served many years as School Director and Highway Commissioner and represented Honey Point Township on the County Board of Supervisors at the time the county debt was funded. His political sentiments are in accord with the policy of the Democratic party.