SELICK B. SAWYER, a general farmer, resides within the corporation limits of Staunton, where he owns a fine farm of two hundred and forty acres. In presenting his portrait and biographical sketch to the readers of the Record, we perpetuate the features and record the life of one of the earliest settlers of the county, his residence here covering a period of almost sixty years. Since his arrival, in 1832, he has never left the county for any length of time, but has continually witnessed its growth and has borne no inconsiderable part in its upbuilding. Of his pioneer experiences, however, we will speak more hereafter.
Mr. Sawyer was born in Carroll County, near Columbus, N.C., December 21, 1821, and is descended from good Revolutionary stock. His grandfather, Joab Sawyer, spent his entire life in North Carolina, and served throughout the Revolutionary War, entering the Colonial Army when less than fifteen years of age. He was of Irish descent and was a stout, rugged man, well fitted for the life which he followed. He married a Miss Allcock, who was also a native of North Carolina, and they resided in that State until their death. They were members of the Primitive Baptist Church and in politics Mr. Sawyer was a Democrat.
The father of our subject, Valentine Sawyer, was a native of Plymouth, N.C., and in the usual manner of farmer lads was reared to manhood, but when he was grown up he shipped before the mast and was engaged in the coasting service for some years. Later he returned to his native town and married Miss Polly Spence. Seven children were born unto them, one of whom died in North Carolina. Their long journey to Illinois was made with a single horse and wagon and at night they would camp out along the road. At Louisville they crossed the Ohio River and at Danville forded the Wabash River. Three months had elapsed before they arrived in Macoupin County, Ill. They made a location in the southern part of the county at what is now West Prairie, and found themselves in a sparsely settled country where, however, game was abundant and wild animals were frequently seen.
Mr. Sawyer made a home on what is known as Williams Creek, which skirted the prairie, and there underwent the usual hardships and trials of the pioneer settler who locates on a western frontier. The nearest mill and market was at Alton, money was scarce and for a time it was a struggle to provide for the wants of the family. But prosperity at length blessed their efforts and they became possessed of a comfortable property. The mother died about 1854, after which Valentine Sawyer, with his two eldest sons, went to Texas, making a settlement in Bell County, where he died at an advanced age. He and his wife are members of the Baptist Church, and he always voted the Democratic ticket. Our subject was the third in order of birth of their family of ten children, of whom seven, four sons and three daughters, are yet living. Of these all are married and have families, and three are living in Illinois.
Selick Sawyer has lived in this county since he was a lad of eleven summers. At an early age he began work upon the farm, assisting in the laborious task of clearing, developing and improving the wild prairie. His father entered land and after he had attained to mature years he entered land for himself, claiming a tract in Staunton Township, which, after he had improved it, he sold and invested the proceeds in the farm which has now been his home since 1858. A part of this lies within the corporation limits of Staunton and it is a valuable piece of property, comprising two hundred and forty acres, the greater portion of which is under cultivation. It is underlaid with rich coal beds, a part of which have been worked and have brought to light a vein six and a half feet thick.
Mr. Sawyer was married in Staunton, August 16, 1847, the lady of his choice being Miss Nancy Bruce, who was born in the Emerald Isle in 1828. Her parents, Samuel and Matilda (Patterson) Bruce, were also natives of Ireland, and after the birth of five children they emigrated with their family to American in 1835, landing in Philadelphia after a six weeks voyage. They then came to Illinois and located near Staunton, where they resided until their death. They were widely and favorably known among the pioneers here and had all their lives been members of the Presbyterian Church. Mrs. Sawyer, a brother and two sisters of the family are yet living. Ten children have been born unto our subject and his wife, but one died in infancy, and Thomas died, leaving a widow and one child. William J., who wedded Eliza Cloud, is a farmer of Olive Township, Madison County; Samuel B. aids in the operation of the old homestead; Joseph, who is engaged in the livery business in Staunton, married Rose Wilder; George is now at home; Jennie S. is the wife of George Maze, of Staunton; Anna is the wife of William Menke, of Staunton; and Valentine also assists his father in farming the old homestead.
Mr. Sawyer and his sons are Democrats in political sentiment and his wife is a member of the Presbyterian Church. Few have a more extended acquaintance in the county than this worthy couple and none are held in higher esteem. They have lived quiet and unassuming, yet busy and useful lives, and have won for themselves a place among the best people of the county.