ALEX MCCURDY, an enterprising farmer and stock raiser of Hilyard township, residing on section 36, claims New Jersey as the State of his nativity. He first opened his eyes to the light of day in Atlantic County in 1814. The family is of Irish origin. The grandfather of our subject, John McCurdy, Sr., was a native of County Antrim, Ireland, where he grew to manhood and was married. Later he came to America, leaving his wife and children in the old country and during the Revolutionary War fought under Gen. Washington. For his services he received a land warrant and then returned to the Emerald Isle for his family with the intention of establishing a home in the United States, but died very suddenly in his native land. Afterward the three older children, including John, father of our subject, who served in the War of 1812-14, and was born in County Antrim and was then twelve years of age, came to America, leaving he widowed mother and younger children in Ireland, where Mrs. McCurdy died at the advanced age of one hundred and five years. The three sons who came to this country did not improve the land as it was their intention of doing when they left home, but sold the warrant and removed to different parts of the country to engage in business best suited to their tastes. The father of our subject attained to his majority in New Jersey, and there engaged in working iron ore. He married Miss Elizabeth Wentling, who was born and reared in that State. They began their domestic life in New Jersey, where the husband died at the age of sixty-four years, after which his widow removed to Pennsylvania, and died at the home of her son Nicholas on the Schuylkill River, about thirteen miles from Philadelphia. This was in 1855, and she was at that time eighty four years of age. In religious belief she was a Methodist and Mr. McCurdy was a member of the Presbyterian Church. Their family numbered eleven children, seven sons and four daughters, of whom only four sons are now living.
Our subject was only a child when his parents removed from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. He may truly be called a self made man, for before he was twelve years of age he began life for himself, being then employed in the iron works, where he continued to labor for thirty-seven years. At first he worked as a molder, but his ability won him promotion, and during the last ten years of his residence in Pennsylvania he was employed as foreman of six furnaces owned by David Thomas, the "Iron King." He was thus able to command an excellent salary, and with the money acquired he purchased land in Illinois. He first came to this State in 1861, and bought one hundred and twenty acres of land in Jersey County, where he made his home until 1868, when in the spring of that year he purchased his present farm, comprising the northern half of three hundred and twenty acres of land on section 36, Hilyard Township. Every acre is under cultivation, the eye resting upon no spot of unimproved land.
In Atlantic County, N.J., at May's Landing, Mr. McCurdy led to the marriage altar Miss Christina McCauley, who was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1818, and is a daughter of Henry and Sarah (McCurdy) McCauley, who were also natives of County Antrim, where they were married and lived until after the birth of all their children. About 1828, with their family, they came to America, settling in Atlantic County, N.J., when the city of Camden was a small hamlet. Some years later they removed to Pennsylvania, locating at the head of the Juniata River, where the remainder of their lives were passed. The father was a member of the Catholic Church and his wife a Presbyterian.
Mrs. McCurdy is the only surviving member of their family of twelve children. She was quite young when she crossed the Atlantic to American and in New Jersey she grew to womanhood. Ten children have been born unto our subject and his worthy wife, but six are now deceased. Catherine died at the age of twenty one years; John died in childhood; John, the second of that name, who died at the age of two years; Mary, who died at the age of fifteen months; one who died in infancy; and Elizabeth, who became the wife of Nathaniel Pinkard, who is now living in Williamstown, Ky. Unto them two children were born, one of whom survives the mother - Joseph A., who since his childhood has been reared by his grandparents and was educated in Bunker Hill Academy. Those who still survive are: Joseph M., who wedded Melissa Deck and is engaged in farming in Hilyard Township; Sarah, widow of John Stemple, a popular railroad conductor of Pennsylvania, who was killed in an accident; Melissa and Jane at home.
In politics Mr. McCurdy was an old line Whig until the rise of the Republican party, which he has since supported. He belongs to the Presbyterian Church and his wife is a member of the same church. During the twenty two years of their residence in Macoupin County they have won many friends and have gained the respect and esteem fo all with whom they have come in contact.