SAMUEL LOWNSBERY is a representative pioneer settler of Menard county and has taken an interested and helpful part in the upbuilding of this portion of the state. He was born in Chemung county, New York, March 1, 1825, his parents being Jonathan and Mary (Janes) Lownsbery. The father was a native of the Empire state and the mother was born in Pennsylvania, but their marriage was celebrated in New York. It was in the year 1832 that Jonathan Lownsbery brought his family to Illinois, establishing his home in Cass county, where he lived for six months and then removed to the present site of the village of Oakford. He entered one hundred and twenty acres of land from the government and at once began breaking the wild prairie, for not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made upon his place. He built a log cabin and in true pioneer style the family began life there, but in later years when his labor had brought him some capital he built a modern farm residence. Some of his children, however, were born in the little frontier home. To his original purchase he first added a tract of eighty acres and subsequently he bought sixty acres of timber land on the river bottom. As the years passed he placed his farm under a very high state of cultivation and also added many modern improvements. At length he was enabled to replace his second house with a brick residence and thus he carried forward the work of progress in keeping with modern ideas of agriculture. He split rails and fenced his farm in the early days and he used primitive machinery in cultivating the soil and harvesting the crops, but as time passed the crude farm implements were replaced by those which more modern inventive genius had given to the world. There were very few people living here at the time of the arrival of the Lownsbery family, the homes being widely scattered over the prairies. Game of various kinds, including deer, was plentiful. Many turkeys and ducks were shot by the early settlers and there were also wolves in this part of the state. James Watkins, an uncle of our subject, owned a mill on Clary's Creek, in which he ground corn and later James Robinson built a more extensive mill, in which both corn and wheat were ground. Samuel Lownsbery has turned the crank for bolting flour in this mill many a time and he also assisted his father in the general work of farming and stock raising., Jonathan Lownsbery carrying on agricultural pursuits until about twenty years prior to his death, when he turned his farm, comprising two hundred and twenty acres, over to the care of his sons and they continued in the business, while he spent his remaining days in honorable retirement from further labor. He continued to reside, however, upon the old homestead, where he passed away in the eighty-second year of his age. His wife also died in Menard county. Both were consistent and faithful members of the Methodist Episcopal church and were numbered among the worthy pioneer people. Mr. Lownsbery served as a member of the school board for many years and his co-operation was given to all work or concerted actions that he believed would prove of value for the substantial improvement of his adopted county. Unto him and his wife were born twelve children, but only four are now living: Margaret, who is the widow of Leander Brown, and is now living near Oakford at the age of eighty-four years; Samuel, of this review; Maurice, who married Mrs. Sophia Atterberry and is now living in Menard county, where both were born; and Lettie, who is the wife of Elias Kirby. They, too, are natives of Menard county and still reside within its borders.
Samuel Lownsbery was a youth of only seven years when brought by his parents to Menard county and upon the old family homestead he was reared, assisting his father in the farm work until twenty-four years of age. He performed the various duties incident to the cultivation and development of the farm and to the care of the family. He hauled the grist to the mill on sleds, for there were few wagons at that time. Frequently he would carry the grain to Mounts mill on Crane Creek and in 1836 when eleven years of age he went to Aurora upon a sled drawn by four yoke of oxen, driving across the country for a distance of one hundred and sixty miles. He then spent the summer in driving ox teams and breaking prairies and he received in payment for his labor a cook stove, which was made at the foundry in Aurora and for which his brother-in-law, mr. McDoel, paid him forty dollars. Mr. Lownsbery's father went to Aurora for him with a two horse wagon and on the return trip carried the stove. It was the first one brought into the neighborhood. After his marriage in 1849 Mr. Lownsbery built a log cabin. Of which he took possession in 1850, making it his home for about ten years. He then moved into a frame house and in 1874 he built a fine home, which he yet occupies. He possessed the first sewing machine which was brought into the neighborhood and also the first coal-oil lamp. He witnessed the introduction of many devices that are now considered necessities, but which the pioneer settlers were accustomed to do without. He has seen great changes in farming methods, owing to the improved machinery which has been put upon the market and at all times he kept touch with the advance that was made, for he possesses a practical and progressive spirit and was ready to adopt anything that would facilitate his farm work and render his labors more effective in his attempt to gain a comfortable competence.
Mr. Lownsbery has been married three times. He first wedded Susan Overstreet and they became the parents of six children, but four died in infancy. One daughter, Ellen, became the wife of Hamilton Lutes and died when about forty years of age. For his second wife Mr. Lownsbery chose Miss Margaret Overstreet, a sister of his first wife, and they became the parents of three children, but only one is now living: William A., who has been married twice and now resides with his father, operating the old homestead farm. For his third wife Samuel Lownsbery chose Elizabeth Holland, who died twenty-five years ago.
Mr. Lownsbery, although in his eightieth year, has enjoyed excellent health and has retained his mental and physical faculties largely unimpaired. Nature is kind to those who oppose not her laws, and Mr. Lownsbery has lead an upright, honorable life, taking care of his health and making the best use possible of his talents and opportunities. Through careful management and unfaltering perseverance he has acquired a comfortable competence that now enables him to live retired. For forty-five years he has been a consistent, faithful and helpful member of the Methodist Episcopal church and he has led a strictly temperate life, never using intoxicants. In politics he has been a stalwart Republican and he has helped to elect nine presidents. Born ere the first quarter of the nineteenth century had drawn to a close, he has been connected with the era of wonderful progress and improvement in America, has seen the building of railroads throughout the country, the establishment of telegraph and telephone lines, the introduction of many wonderful inventions, which have revolutionized trade and commerce as well as all lines of industrial activity and at all times he has felt a just and commendable pride in what has been accomplished. His labors have been concentrated upon his farm work in Menard county and upon his duties of citizenship and though he has led a quiet and unassuming life, it is one which is well worthy of emulation because of his fidelity to honorable principles.