ZACHARIAH THACKER, one of the largest landholders in this section of the State, stands among the foremost of the successful farmers and stock raisers of this county, who have been such important factors in its development. Held in veneration and esteem by all who know him, he is now living in pleasant retirement in his home in Nilwood, where he is enjoying his wealth at leisure. the reader will be pleased to notice his portrait on the opposite page.
Mr. Thacker is a native born citizen of this State, his birthplace was in Edwards County, and the date of his birth October 4, 1820. His father, whose name was Thomas Thacker, was born either in Virginia or in one of the Carolinas, a son of one, Zachariah Thacker, who, as far as known, spent his last years in one of these States. The father of our subject was but an infant when his parents died, and an older sister took charge of him. On her removal to Kentucky she took him with her, and he was reared in Muhlenberg County, that State, where he married.
Soon after that event Mr. Thacker emigrated to the wilds of Indiana, where he resided a short time before coming to Illinois in 1818, and locating among the pioneers of Edwards County. He made a claim to a tract of Government land, but did not have money enough to enter it until he worked to earn it. He was very industrious and toiled incessantly to make a home for his little family. His prospects were good, but his career was suddenly terminated by his untimely death, while in the very prime of life, in 18921. He left his widow in limited circumstances with two small children to care for.
After the death of the father the mother returned to Kentucky with her children, and lived with a brother some seven years. At the expiration of that time she married again, becoming the wife of Elijah Ash, and soon after the family returned to Illinois and settled in St. Clair County. After a two years' residence there they removed to that part of Morgan County now included in Scott County, where our subject was reared on a farm. When he was eighteen years old his stepfather agreed to give him the money to enter forty acres of land if he would help him to grub and clear his farm.
Mr. Thacker accepted the offer, and remained with Mr. Ash, who in about a year gave him the promised money, and he entered his land in Greene County. He continued to assist Mr. Ash awhile longer and during that time sold his forty acre tract and entered eighty acres in the same county. At the age of twenty years he started out in life for himself, his father giving him a colt valued at $20. He was $18 in debt, but he had his eighty acres of wild land to begin with. He first assisted his brother in grubbing a piece of land, intending to put in a crop of buckwheat, b ut could not do so, as his brother and family were taken sick and he gave up his time to caring for them.
After that Mr. Thacker found employment in the harvest field at $1.25 a day, and the same fall he went to Madison County and procured a job to chop wood at seventy-five cents a cord. He finally located on his land, and after grubbing and breaking a few acres sold it for $300. In 1842 he came to Macoupin County and made a claim to a tract of Government land in Palmyra Township. he at once broke twenty acres of land and put in a crop of wheat, and in 1844 sold his claim at a good advance on the purchase price. He next came into possession of eighty acres of timber and brush land and of fifteen acres of clear timber, and he resided on that place some years. After that he removed to Nilwood Township where he bought land and actively engaged in farming and in buying and clearing other land until 1887. He then removed to Nilwood, where he has since lived retired from active lab or in one of its most comfortable homes. He has been marvelously prospered in his transactions, showing more than ordinary forethought, keenness and business tact in his operations, and at one time he owned upwards of twenty-five hundred acres of fine farming land, the greater part of which consisted of rich prairie in the best part of Illinois. He has provided liberally for his children, and still holds large tracts of land in this county.
Mr Thacker was married, in 1841, to Miss Nancy, daughter of Israel Walker, and a native of Kentucky. For many years they passed life happily together, and she was all to him that a true woman can be to her husband, wise in counsel and helpful in all things, and her death in the home that she had helped him to build up on the farm in Nilwood Township was a grievous loss to her household. She was a sincere Christian in word and deed, and for many years was an earnest member of the Baptist Church. Seven children were the fruit of that marriage, as follows: Caroline, wife of Thomas Tolbert; Thomas; Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Garst; Leander; John W.; Edna, wife of Harvey Tietsort; and Fanny, wife of John Duncan.
Mr. Thacker is a fine type of our self-made men, possessing, as he does, an active mind, an indomitable will, firmness and honesty of purpose, together with other qualities that insure success, command respect in the business world, and gain the trust and consideration of neighbors and associates. The worth of his citizenship is unquestioned and in him the Baptist Church finds a zealous member. his children also belong to the same denomination.