WILLIAM COLLINS PURDY, one of the most highly esteemed residents of Dorchester township, Macoupin County, a veteran and pensioner of the Mexican War, was born March 30, 1827, near Collinsville, Illinois, and came to Macoupin County with his parents, William C. and Ann (Kinney) Purdy, in 1831.
The father of our subject, who parents were natives of Ireland, was born December 17, 1789, in a house which stood on the dividing line between North and South Carolina, and his death took place February 28, 1882, in Dorchester township, Macoupin County. His boyhood and youth were spent in Alabama and Tennessee and in the former State he learned the trade of brick mason. In 1818 he came to Illinois and settled in St. Clair County, where he followed his trade and farmed, later becoming a teamster during the Indian wars. In St. Clair County, he married Ann Kinney, who was born in 1802 in a blockhouse in that county, and died in Dorchester township, Macoupin County, aged 66 years. They had nine children: Samuel, who died aged 12 years; John H., who died in a hospital in Edwardsville, Illinois; William Collins, of this sketch; Mrs. Nancy Best, deceased; James, deceased; George, who died aged eight years; Josiah, deceased, who was taken prisoner in the Civil War; Mrs. Polly Best; and Mrs. Celia Webb Clark. Two members of the above family died on account of loyal service to their country. John H. Purdy was a volunteer in Company L, 3rd Illinois Vol. Cav., and served two years and then came home and died. Josiah Purdy served three years and died in a Confederate prison in Alabama. Both were true and brave soldiers. The family was a loyal one, the issues of the Civil War making the father change his political views from Democracy to Republicanism.
Our esteemed subject was reared under conditions which prevented any great amount of schooling, and, in fact, he has educated himself. The greater part of his life has been spent in Madison, Montgomery and Macoupin counties, and he has been engaged in various occupations - has operated a livery, has run a sawmill, and for a time was engaged in a butchering business at Staunton. In 1872 he took a contract which he held for 16 years to supply the mine operators at Staunton and vicinity with their lumber. He has been an extensive buyer and seller of land and has owned a large acreage himself. A farm of 120 acres in paradise township, Rooks County, Kansas, he traded for his present home, receiving in addition the sum of $1,800. He has retained 25 acres in section 12, Dorchester township, having given farms to his three children.
As stated, Mr. Purdy is a survivor of the Mexican War, in which he took an active part. He enlisted in June, 1846, in Company E, 4th Reg., Illinois Vol. Inf., under Col. E. D. Baker and Capt. Daniel Newcomb, which was recruited at Staunton and mustered in at Alton. At Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, the company was drilled and was then sent, by way of New Orleans, to Point Isabella, at the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Mr. Purdy took part in the siege of Vera Cruz, and accompanied his regiment to Matamoras, Victoria, and took part in the great fight at Cerro Gordo. He was discharged about a month later at New Orleans. Although he saw hard service, Mr. Purdy was anxious to again give his country still further proof of his patriotism at the outbreak of the Civil War, but impaired health prevented. Since 1860 he has been a Republican in his political sentiments.
On February 8, 1849, Mr. Purdy was married to Susan M. Best, who was born October 20, 1828, in macoupin County, and is a daughter of James and Annie (Tatum) Best, natives of North Carolina and Tennessee, respectively. The Bests owned farming land about three miles south of Staunton, where Mr. Best died, aged 81 years, and Mrs. Best died aged 66 years. Mr. and Mrs. Purdy have had nine children, three of whom died in infancy, the survivors being: William Collins, Jr., who is living at home; Mrs. Sarah Hushing, of Litchfield, Illinois, who has four children; Luella, wife of J. M. Cox; Wesley B., of Mount Olive township, Macoupin County, who has six children; Edward, of Dorchester township, Macoupin County, who has six children; and Dora (Mrs. Piper) of Worden, Illinois, who has two children. Mr. and Mrs. Purdy have four great-grandchildren. They have thus been permitted not only to enjoy each other's affection and companionship for 55 years, but can renew their youth in their descendants. Both are well and widely known. The family and its connections represent some of the best citizenship of the county and the name is one held in respect wherever found. Hospitality reigns in this home and many friends hope for continued years and many blessings for this worthy couple.