JACOB L. PLAIN, ex-Sheriff of Macoupin County, is a prominent and well-known citizen of Carlinville, where for many years he has been engaged in the real-estate business, and he has been a potent factor in its growth and prosperity. He was born in Muhlenberg County, Ky., April 25, 1828, and is a representative of the early pioneer families of this section of the State.
David Plain, the father of our subject, was born in 1796 in that part of Frederick County, Md., which is not included in Carroll County, and his father, John Plain, was a native of the same place. The father of the latter was a farmer, and it is supposed that he spent his entire life in Maryland. The grandfather of our subject was bred to the life of a farmer, and his whole life was passed in his native State. His son David was reared in the county of his birth, and removed thence to Greenbriar County, VA., and later to Muhlenberg County, Ky., where he followed his trade, that of a cabinet maker. He resided there until 1828, when he came to the wilds of Illinois to seek a new home, making the removal the entire way with ox-teams. He was accompanied hither by his wife and five children, and brought with him all his household goods. He first located on Indian Creek, in Morgan County, but in March, 1831, came to Macoupin County, and became one of the first settlers of Shaw's Point Township, where he at once selected a tract of Government land. He cut poles, and putting the ends in the ground, letting the tops come together, he covered them with boards rived by hand, and thus made a temporary shelter, which the family occupied while he erected a hewn log house. For many years after he came here there were no railways in Illinois, and Alton, thirty-six miles distant, was the nearest market and depot for supplies. The people were chiefly home-livers, and the women spun and wove all the cloth with which they dressed their children.
The father of our subject devoted his time principally to farming, and made his home at Shaw's Point Township until his death, in 1873. He had been twice married. The maiden name of his second wife, mother of our subject, was Ann Landes. She was born in Botetourt County, VA., and was a daughter of Daniel and Catherine Landes. She died in 1868. In the parental family there were ten children.
Jacob L. was but an infant when his parents brought him to Illinois, and consequently he has no remembrance of other than his adopted State. He attended the pioneer schools of Shaw's Point Township, which were first taught in log houses, the furniture being of the most primitive kind. The benches were made by splitting logs and hewing one side smooth, and then inserting wooden pegs for legs. There were no desks, but holes were bored in the logs on either side of the house, wooden pegs put in, and a board laid on them, and this contrivance served as a desk for the larger scholars to write upon. Yet in those rude log houses many of the most noted men of the country obtained the rudiments of an education which fitted them for the most responsible and exalted positions in life. As soon as able our subject commenced to assist in the duties of the farm, and made his home with his parents until he was twenty-two years of age, when he started in life on his own account, and even with the world. He had been reared to habits of industry, and found no difficulty in obtaining employment on a farm. An intelligent, energetic young man, bearing an excellent reputation, he was selected for the office of Deputy Sheriff in 1851, under William M. Snow. He served in that capacity until 1854, when he was elected Sheriff of the county, so well had he done in the subordinate office, and he held that position one term at that time. In 1858 he was again elected to that office, and retained it until 1860.
From 1856 to 1858 Mr. Plain was in the mercantile business, carrying a stock of general merchandise. Later he engaged in the real-estate business, and also in making abstracts of titles, which he has since continued. He has a pleasant home at Carlinville, and to the wife who presides over it he was married in 1856. Mrs. Plain was formerly Miss Mary A. J. Dick, and she is a native of this State, her birthplace being in Sangamon County.