ARIAL M. SOLOMON. It gives us pleasure to represent in this BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD, dedicated to the resident of Macoupin County, this gentleman, who is one of the oldest citizens of Illinois now living in this section, a man well known and much respected. He was formerly actively engaged in agricultural pursuits and acquired a goodly amount of property thereby. He is now living in honorable retirement from business in the village of Palmyra.
A native of Muhlenberg County, Ky., our subject was born October 4, 1821. His father, Henry Solomon, was born December 6, 1799, in Franklin County, N.C. He was a son of Lewis Solomon who was a native of the same state, and was there reared and married. He finally removed to Muhlenberg County, Ky., and was a pioneer of that region. In 1825 he came to Illinois with his family, making the entire journey by land. He became one of the early settlers of Morgan County and was a resident there until his removal to this county. He was one of the first to settle in North Palmyra Township, where he secured a tract of Government land, which he improved into a good farm, and there he passed quietly away in the month of August, 1849. He served as Justice of the Peace before the county was organized and was the first justice elected after it became a county. The maiden name of his wife was Sarah Bowden. She was a native of Franklin County, N.C., and a daughter of John Bowden. She preceded her husband in death a few months, dying in February, 1849.
The father of our subject was a child when the family took up their abode in Kentucky and there he grew to a stalwart manhood. He learned the trade of a shoemaker in his youth. In 1825 he left his home in Muhlenberg County, and bringing with him his wife and two children, he came to Illinois, journeying by land to his destination. He arrived at Jacksonville October 19, and found but one house on the present site of the city, though the town had been platted the previous August. That house was of logs and still stands one block east of the square, a relic of the past. It is weather-boarded, the boards having been rived by hand, and the flooring was drawn from St. Louis. The greater part of the land was still in the hands of the Government when Mr. Solomon settled there and as he had but $6.50 in his possession he was unable to purchase any. He rented land for two years and at the end of that time was enabled to buy a claim to a tract, which now joins the city. There was a log house on the place and a few acres of the land broken constituted the improvements. He held onto his claim for two years and then entered it at the land office at Vandalia.
In 1835 the father of our subject sold his property in Morgan County at the rate of $10 an acre, a good advance on the purchase price, and with the proceeds he bought Government land in this county in what is now known as South Palmyra Township. He erected a log house and at once set about the lard labor of clearing a farm. There were no railways then in this part of the country and the farmers had to go to Alton to market. Mr. Solomon lived to see a great change wrought in the face of the country and he did his share of toil necessary to subdue the forces of nature and make this a rich and flourishing agricultural region. With the exception of one year, he continued to occupy his farm until death closed his career at a ripe age in 1876. He was twice married. The maiden name of his first wife, mother of our subject, was Rebecca James. She died in Muhlenberg County in 1823. The step-mother of our subject was named Elizabeth Krous and she was a native of Kentucky. She died on the home farm in 1888 in her eighty-second year. Three of her children of now living.
Our subject is the only survivor of the children of his father's first marriage. He was but four years old when the family came to Illinois. He attended the first school ever taught in Jacksonville, which was held in a log cabin near the square on the south. The seats were made by splitting logs and hewing one side smooth and there were no backs to them. The building was heated by a fire in a rude fireplace and lighted by removing logs from the walls and pasting greased paper over the aperture. Each family had to pay money for the teaching in accordance with the number of scholars sent to school.
As soon as he was large enough, Mr. Solomon assisted his father in the farm work, and he continued an inmate of the parental home until he was twenty-four years old. When he was seventeen years of age his father gave him $50 and told him to do whatsoever he liked with it. The enterprising youth wisely invested it in forty acres of Government land in South Palmyra Township, entering it at the land office at Edwardsville. Two years later his father again gave him a like sum of money and he judiciously exchanged it for forty acres of land in Barr Township, adjoining his first entry. He never located on the land, but eventually sold it at $5.25 an acre. He then bought one hundred and ten acres in Barr Township and took up his residence thereon. He did well as a farmer and from time to time bought other land until he had four hundred acres in his possession. In the fall of 1888 he removed from his homestead in Barr Township to Palmyra and has since lived retired in this village.
Mr. Solomon was first wedded in November, 1844, to Miss Jane Norman, a native of Tennessee. Their married life was one of mutual helpfulness and felicity. It was terminated by the death of the faithful wife in 1876 in the home that she had helped her husband build up. The second marriage of our subject, which took place in March, 1879, was with Mrs. Elvira (Bradshaw) Wiswell. She was born on a farm adjoining the city of Jacksonville, Morgan County, January 21, 1823. Her father, John Bradshaw, was a native of North Carolina. He removed from there to Tennessee, whence he came to Illinois in 1817, this State then being a territory. He resided for one year in a block house on the American Bottoms, as the Indians were then numerous and troublesome. In 1818 he went to Morgan County, where he entered a tract of Government land which now joins the city of Jacksonville on the east. He erected a rude log cabin, riving the boards for a roof, making a puncheon floor and splitting boards for the door, which had wooden hinges, and a wooden latch that was raised by a string put through the door and hanging on the outside. He had no nails to use in building the structure. Later he built a hewed log house, sawing the lumber for it with a whip saw. He made that his abode until his death in 1845. The maiden name of his wife was Fanny Elkins. She was a native of Kentucky. She passed from life to death on the home farm at Jacksonville in 1865.
Mrs. Solomon lived with her parents until her marriage. She learned to weave and spin and in her early married life made all the cloth used by the family. She was first wedded at the age of fifteen years to Eugene Wiswell, a native of Vermont and a son of Joseph and Catherine (Deal) Wiswell. Mr. Wiswell served in the late war as Quartermaster in the Ninety first Illinois Infantry. After the war he engaged in the mercantile business at New Orleans, where he died of yellow fever in 1866.
After the death of her husband Mrs. Solomon returned to Iroquois County, this State. She is the mother of eight children by her first marriage, of whom the following is recorded: Elvina, Mrs. Skeels, lives in Iroquois County; Nancy A., Mrs. Douglas is a resident of Clinton, Mo.; Catherine F., Mrs. Lindsey, lives in Iroquois County; John W. lives at Lee, Summit County, Mo.; Lou, Mrs. Thisler, resides at Bergen, Ky.; Flora, Mrs. Austin, resides at Abilene, Kan.; Cora, Mrs. Doolittle, is a resident of Jacksonville; Josephine, Mrs. Shank, lives at Palmyra.
Mr. Solomon has six children living by his first marriage: Elizabeth J., Mrs. Hinckle, a resident of Pana, Christian County, Ill.; Mary J., Mrs. Ross, lives at Wilber, Neb.; Melvina, Mrs. Edwards, is a resident of Denver, Colo.; Benjamin F. lives in Oklahoma, and Samuel C.
Our subject is a Christian in deed and word and a member in high standing in the Baptist Church. He is as sound in his politics as in his religion and is an unswerving adherent of the Democratic party. Mrs. Solomon belongs to the Christian Church and is an active worker in the fold.