The late Samuel England was an old and most highly regarded resident of Macoupin County, to which he came with his pioneer parents in 1831. He was born in Morgan County, Tennessee, February 22, 1820, and was a son of John and Lina (Hall) England.
Joseph England, the paternal grandfather, was born in Virginia, and moved into Tennessee as an early settler of Morgan County. There he owned land and engaged in farming until 1830, when he again became a pioneer, migrating to Illinois, and settling in Morgan County. His last years were spent with his daughter, Mrs. Wilkins, in Marion County.
John England, father of the late Samuel England, was born in Virginia, accompanied his parents to Tennessee, and came to Illinois in 1830 with his parents and accompanied by his wife and family of 10 children. In those early days the only mode of transportation was by means of teams and wagons and thus the family exodus from Tennessee was made. The covered wagons, loaded with household goods and accompanied by troops of happy children and their grave parents, were not an unusual sight at that time, the rich promises of fertile lands in Illinois having drawn hither many settlers from older States, anxious to provide for their usually large families. The Englands reached Morgan County after five weeks of necessarily slow travel, and their first winter in their new surroundings was probably their worst, it being the year which has become noted as "the winter of the great snow." In the spring of 1831, they came to Macoupin County, where Mr. England bought a squatter's claim and also entered land from the government in what is now North Otter township. They lived in a log cabin, 14 by 16 feet in dimensions, which was covered with clapboards, rived by hand. The chimney was of slabs covered with mud, and the floor was of puncheons, split by hand. In these small quarters, the family lived two years, and then built a larger but no less picturesque log house. When Mr. England was prepared to raise his house, he was obliged to go a distance of eight miles to get neighbors to assist. This new house also had a puncheon floor, and the puncheon door was fastened with wooden pins instead of nails. From this little home, where the latch-string hospitably hung out, went forth men and women who grew into some of the finest types of citizenship the county ever had. The parents of our subject labored industriously, the father clearing and cultivating the land, and the mother spinning and weaving cloth for the household raiment, while wholesome tasks were assigned each child. Here the mother died in 1841, and the father in 1858.
Our subject first invested in land, in association with his brother-in-law, paying $2.50 an acre, built a small house and a year later sold his interest for $700. His next purchase was a tract of 80 acres, in North Otter township, for which he paid $500. This transaction gave him a little capital and from that time until his death, Mr. England was unusually successful in his business affairs. At various times he added land to his purchase and lived on that place until 1866, when he sold it and bought his farm adjoining the village of Girard, a well cultivated and most valuable property of 225 acres, which he improved into one of the model rural homes of the county. Mr. England was permitted to spend many happy and useful years. He was well and widely known for his good farming, in earlier days, and latterly for the hospitality and kindliness which made him esteemed by all who were admitted to his acquaintance. In his religious views he was a Methodist, and was a liberal supporter of that church.
In 1846, Mr. England married Louisa C. Smith, who was a daughter of Moses and Permelia Smith. Mrs. England died in 1863, mourned by all who knew her. She was survived by six children: Antoinette, of Girard; Elias, of Girard; Marshall M., deceased; Permelia E., wife of Henry C. Hamilton, president of the Girard Bank and one of the most enterprising and prominent citizens of that place, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work; Elizabeth, deceased, wife of John H. Gill; and John J., whose sketch will be found on another page of this volume, who for many years has been the valued agent of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad company at Girard.