Among the younger and yet enterprising and successful farmers of Menard county JOHN W. DONALDSON is numbered. He was born August 9, 1876, and is a son of Walker Richard and Rebecca (Sowers) Donaldson. His father was born in Bath county, Kentucky, July 16, 1824, and was a son of Alexander and Sarah (Power) Donaldson, who came to Menard county in 1850, settling on a farm on Salt creek. Their family numbered twelve children. W. Richard Donaldson, after arriving at man's estate, had come to Menard county six months before the arrival of his parents. In 1852 he made an overland trip to California with a large flock of sheep, starting in the month of February and arriving in the Sacramento valley in October of that year. For four years he remained on the Pacific coast employed in various ways and upon his return to Illinois he engaged in the live-stock business, becoming an extensive dealer, widely known in this connection in Illinois and Missouri. About 1867, however, he concentrated his energies upon the development and improvement of his land and upon his farm he spent his remaining days. During and after the war, however, he made many trips into Missouri, which at that time was in a very unsettled condition and he bought and brought to this state many droves of cattle, which he sold to farmers. His life was often endangered by bushwhackers, but he possessed great courage and persevered in his business career. He ultimately became the owner of land in both Missouri and Illinois. He had manifested his loyalty to the government at the time of the Mexican war by enlisting as a soldier of Company G, Third Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, serving under General Scott and participating in all of the engagements from the coast to the ancient city of the Montezumas. He died in his sixty-eight year after about a year's illness and was survived by his wife and four sons, who resided on the homestead farm containing five hundred acres of valuable land. A local paper in speaking of Mr. Donaldson, said: "He was the soul of honor. His word was as good as his bond, and while he would resent an injury or defend a friend with a vengeance that was terrible to opponents, there was no better-hearted, whole-souled citizen than 'Dick' Donaldson. Politically he was of the General Jackson type. He sought no office, but no Democrat in this county has been a candidate for or elected to an office until his recent illness that does not owe him a debt of gratitude. In all political contests the warmer the battle, there, in the thickest of the fight, Dick Donaldson was sure to be, as can be attested by many citizens of the present day. There are few who have not their faults. He may have had his, but they were so overshadowed by generous and more noble traits of character that they were made insignificant. All who knew him can truthfully say that Walker R. Donaldson was an honorable citizen, a good neighbor, a true friend, and a kind husband and father."
John W. Donaldson was reared under the parental roof upon the old homestead farm, which is still his place of residence. He attended the public schools and was instructed in lessons of industry and economy on the old homestead. He early learned the best methods of producing good crops and caring for the stock and throughout his business career has engaged in general farming and stock-raising. He both buys and feeds stock for the market and in June, 1904, he shipped three carloads of cattle and two carloads of hogs to the Chicago market.
On the 26th of October, 1898, Mr. Donaldson was married to Ruth Armeling, a daughter of John H. and Caroline M. (Pugh) Armeling, the former born in Badbergen, Hanover, Germany, March 2, 1841, and the latter in Nanticoke, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, March 18, 1841. In his early childhood days the father was brought to America and his first lessons in walking were received on the deck of the ship on which the voyage was made. With his parents he came to Mason county, Illinois, where he has made his home up to the present time, following the occupation of farming throughout the period of his manhood. He has been prominent and influential in community affairs, has served as a member of the school board, gives his political support to the Democracy and religiously is identified with the Methodist church. In his family are eight children, five of whom have been school teachers, including Mrs. Donaldson. She holds membership in the Methodist church and in his political views Mr. Donaldson is a Democrat. He has worked earnestly and persistently since attaining adult age and is a worthy representative of one of the honored pioneer families of the county and is also classed with the successful agriculturists.