JAMES THOMAS KEPLINGER, one of the leading agriculturists of Macoupin County for many years and still the owner of large and valuable tracts of land in Honey Point and Brushy Mound townships, was born January 22, 1840, in Morgan County, Illinois, and is a son of Peter and Sarah E. (Harris) Keplinger.
Peter Keplinger was born August 7, 1815, in Washington County, Tennessee. His grandfather, Jacob Keplinger, removed as a pioneer from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. There was born his John, our subject's grandfather, who on December 18, 1806, was married to Elizabeth Rubel. Nine children were born to them, the fifth member of the family being Peter, the father of our subject, who was 15 years old when his parents came to Illinois. The long trip was made with a five-horse team, and they located first in Morgan County, near Jacksonville. Peter Keplinger remained with his parents until he was 21 years of age, when he married and engaged in farming for himself, becoming a large land-owner. On February 28, 1839, he was married to Sarah E. Harris, born May 10, 1820, at Elizabethtown, Carter County, Tennessee, a daughter of Benjamin Harris, who was born in Maryland and was a soldier in the War of 1812. They had five children born to them, namely: James T., Ann M., John B., Lucian and Sarah E. Ann M. married T. J. Willhite and died September 17, 1869, leaving no issue. John B. served two years in the Civil War, then took sick and was finally brought home from the hospital, and died in 1866. Sarah E. married J. L. Wylder of Jacksonville, Illinois.
James T. Keplinger has been a resident of Honey Point township, Macoupin County, since 1843, when his parents settled here as pioneers. He grew up on the farm but had but few educational advantages. When the Civil War broke out, he signified his desire to go, but was so opposed by his solicitous mother that he gave way to her pleadings, and thus was subjected to the draft of September 23, 1864. He was one of the drafted who recruited Company I, 32nd Veteran Reg., Illinois Vol. Inf. under Lieutenant (later Captain) Droke. This company was attached to the 17th Army Corps and participated in Sherman's campaign. On the way to Buford, South Carolina, the regiment encountered a severe storm on the ocean. After this experience he was mainly connected with the quartermasters's department, and was discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, September 16, 1865. Mr. Keplinger has a record for fidelity to duty that many a soldier might envy. Although entitled to a pension, he has never applied for one.
After the close of the war, he returned to Illinois and resumed farming. He has owned large bodies of land in the locality where he has made his home so many years, at one time holding as much as 450 acres in Honey Point and Brushy Mound townships, but he has sold some and has given his children 160 acres. His present holdings include 120 acres in sections 31 and 32, Honey Point township, 60 acres of timber in section 20, Honey Point township; 80 acres in section 19, Honey Point township, and 130 acres in sections 1 and 2, Brushy Mound township. He has been an extensive farmer and stock raiser, but has now retired from active farming and devotes his time to the buying and feeding of stock more for a slight occupation than for anything else, as he has not been in robust health since 1891.
On April 25, 1867, Mr. Keplinger was married to Sarah L. Entrekin, who was born April 22, 1850, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and is a daughter of Ephraim R. and Lavina Entrekin, natives of Pennsylvania, who came to Illinois in 1853. Our subject and wife have had seven children, namely: Effie J., who married J. H. Myer of Honey Point township and has one daughter - Leda J.; John W., who resides in Honey Point, married Laura Duncan and has two children - Orin C. and Florence M.; Peter R., a Methodist clergyman, of Camden, Hillsdale County, Michigan, married Jennie Akin and has one son - William Thomas; Luther, who died at the age of 25 years, was also a minister in the Methodist Church - his wife was Ida Fuller; Clara A., who is the widow of William Hammond, resides with her parents and has three children - Marvel W., Milo L. and Merris E.; Mabel M., who married Harry Wilson, and resides in Honey Point township; and Mildred E., who married Larkin Hart of Honey Point township and has one child - Sybil Irene.
Mr. Keplinger has given all of his children liberal educational advantages, always regretting his own limitations in this direction. He has taken an active part in pr9omoting educational movements in his locality and has served for a long time as school director. He is an ardent temperance man and for some years voted the Prohibition ticket, but is now identified with the Republican party. During the Civil War he was a member of the Loyal Union League. Since 1868 both he and his wife have been members of the Methodist Church, in which he is one of the stewards. Several of his sons have entered its ministry and Mr. Keplinger has been liberal in his support of this religious body, but he is not a prejudiced man and can see good in every Christian effort and has assisted other organizations also.
With the exception of the year 1863 when he traveled in Minnesota for his health, and during his army service, Macoupin County has been our subject's home. Here he is known and esteemed, meeting old friends and new, seeing in all that kind consideration which his honest, helpful life has given him the right to expect. While by the passing away of the old pioneers many of the most solid, substantial, upright men of the land are removed, in some of their descendants we recognize the same honorable attributes which made them what they were. Mr. Keplinger worthily represents his pioneer ancestry. Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Keplinger accompany this sketch.