HENRY C. GRAHAM. The productiveness of Menard county as a place of residence is indicated by the fact that many of the native sons have remained within its borders, enjoying the advantages and privileges here afforded. To this class belongs Henry C. Graham, who was born in this county May 8, 1833, a son of Peter and Mary Ann (Akers) Graham. The father was born in New York city, October 22, 1801, and there resided until twenty-three years of age, when he went to New Orleans. He spent about three years in the Crescent City, working at the carpenter's trade and also upon steamboats plying on the Mississippi river between New Orleans and St. Louis. In 1829 he came to Illinois, locating first at Jacksonville, where he remained for eighteen months and in 1831 he established his home in Athens, Menard county, where he remained continuously until his death, covering sixty-two years-a period exceeding the average life of the majority of mankind. With the pioneer development and progress of the county he was actively associated and he aided in laying broad and deep the foundation for its present progress. In 1832 he was united in marriage at Jacksonville to Miss Mary Ann Akers, and they became the parents of eleven children, seven of whom are yet living, as follows: Mrs. Ursula Hurt, of Omaha, Nebraska; Mrs. Harriet Cantrall, of Illiopolis, Illinois; Henry C.; Mrs. Ellen Cantrall; Mrs. Emma Cantrall; Mrs. Eliza Swingle; and E.N. Graham, of Athens. The father lived to see his youngest child reach the period of middle life and all had married and had families growing up around them. At an early age he united with the Methodist Episcopal church and always lived an honorable, upright, Christian life, faithful in his devotions, true in his convictions, manifesting a Godly spirit by his conversation and his daily conduct. His home in the early days was the reception place of the venerable Peter Cartwright and other pioneer ministers of Illinois and there the neighbors gathered to hear the preaching of the word in its simplicity. Here also the prayer meetings were held and the family altar was erected and maintained. Mr. Graham's was a truly remarkable life. He was born in the year that Thomas Jefferson was elected president of the United States and a year prior to the admission of Illinois into the Union. He was eight years of age at the time that the first steamboat, called Fulton's folly, made its way up the Hudson river. He was old enough to vote the year prior to the operation of the first railroad train in America and he had passed the period of middle life when telegraphy was brought into use. He had come down to old age when the Atlantic cable was laid and he arrived in Illinois before the city of Chicago was incorporated. Illinois presented the appearance of one great prairie, on which only here and there was seen a timber tract of the settlement of the white man. He lived to see the stage coach supplanted by the vestibuled train and to witness the remarkable progress that has been brought about in this age of wonderful invention. He retained his physical and mental faculties to a remarkable degree, even in his last years. In July, 1891, his aged companion, with whom he has so long traveled life's journey, was called from his side and on the 30th of September of the following year he passed away at the very advance age of ninety years, eleven months and eight days.
Reared under the parental roof amid the refining influences of a good home, Henry C. Graham spent his boyhood and youth with his parents and worked at the carpenter's trade with his father until twenty-four years of age. He then turned his attention to agricultural pursuits on his own account and has since been engaged in farming and stock-raising, making a specialty of the raising of hogs and cattle. In his business operations he is associated at the present writing with his son Joseph S. and they have five hundred and sixty acres of as fine land as can be found in Menard county and there is no richer tract in all America than is to be seen in central Illinois. The farm is splendidly improved, there being seventeen miles of tiling upon it, together with substantial buildings, modern machinery and all the equipments found upon the model farm of the twentieth century. From the time that he started out in life on his own account Mr. Graham has met with prosperity and yet there is no secret about his success, as it has been won through persistent labor, carefully directed by sound business judgment.
On the 6th of January, 1856, occurred the marriage of Mr. Graham and Miss Fanny L. Cantrall, a daughter of Levi and Ann (Patterson) Cantrall. Her father was born in Botetourt county, Virginia, October 1, 1787, and in 1789 was taken by his parents to Kentucky, the family home being established in that part of Mercer county which afterward became Bath county. He was there married November 30, 1809, to Miss Fanny England, and they had one child born in Kentucky. In 1811 they removed to Madison county, Ohio, where five children were added to the household and subsequently they took up their abode in Madison county, Illinois. It was in October, 1819, that Mr. Cantrall reached this state and on the 4th of December of the same year he settle upon a tract of land now included within the corporation limits of the city of Cantrall and reaching to the north side of the river in what is now Fancy Creek township. He began building his cabin on the 8th of December, and soon had his family installed in their new home. Seven of the thirteen children born to Mr. and Mrs. Cantrall are natives of Sangamon county and in that county the wife and mother died September 10, 1835. Mr. Cantrall entered the land from the government upon which the village of Cantrall now stands and for many years was successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits. He also assisted materially in the development of Sangamon and Menard counties and in the conduct of his business affairs won a high degree of success. Prior to his death he became an extensive landowner and ere his demise he divided his property among his children. He passed away February 22, 1860, while his second wife, who bore the maiden name of Ann Patterson, was born in Kentucky, September 30, 1803, and died September 26, 1889. She was one of the charter members of the North Sangamon Presbyterian church. There were two children by this marriage, Mrs. Graham and Joseph S., who is married and resides in Springfield.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Graham have been born five children, three daughters and two sons. Mary Annie, born June 23, 1858, was married September 14, 1882, to William E. Johnson, whose birth occurred January 6, 1857. Their children are Mildred, born August 10, 1883, Addie, born June 7, 1885, and Minnie, born August 26, 1887. Mr. Johnson and his family resided upon a farm near Athens. William H. Graham, the second member of the family, was born August 11, 1862, and was married January 10, 1884, to Anna L. Clark, who died January 14, 1889, leaving one child, Edith L., who was born November 2, 1884, and was married September 23, 1904, to A.D. Van Meter, a resident of Fancy Creek township, Sangamon county. Owen C., another child of this union, was born June 12, 1888, and died in October of that year. For his second wife William H. Graham chose Phoebe Hardman, their marriage being celebrated May 9, 1895, and their children are W. Harold, born May 23, 1896; Paul H., born May 9, 1898; and Helen. Mr. Graham, who is a farmer and stock-raiser, resides in Chatham, Illinois. Araminta Graham, born October 13, 1868, was married May 3, 1893, to Harry Fulton, who was born December 2, 1867, and is a resident farmer of Menard county. They have two children: Fannie L., born August 13, 1895, and a son born in 1901. Joseph S. Graham, born March 26, 1871, married Lillian N. Primm, January 6, 1895, and resides upon a farm near Athens. Their children are Henry P., born November 25, 1896; Arnold, born in April, 1898; and Wayne, born in April 1904. Carrie Graham, born August 5, 1878, was married July 13, 1898, to Webster H. Van Meter, a farmer and stock-raiser residing near Athens, and they have two children: Joseph, born in August, 1899; and Marguerite, born in August, 1902.
Mr. Graham gives a stalwart support to the Republican party and has firm faith in its principles. Both he and his wife are members of the Methodist church of Athens and are people of the highest respectability, enjoying the warm regard of many friends. Although now more than seventy-one years of age, he still remains an active factor in business affairs and retains a keen interest in everything concerning his county and her welfare. Such a career of activity should put to shame many a man of less resolute spirit and determination who, grown tired of the struggles of business life, would relegate to others the burdens that he should bear. Mr. Graham has ever been energetic and diligent in his work and the success which he now enjoys is certainly well merited.