GEORGE B. WELSH. There is no history in this volume which illustrates more clearly the fact that success may be won through perseverance and honorable effort than does the record of George Baxter Welsh, who is indeed a self-made man, having worked his way upward from a humble financial position to one of affluence. Although he is now the owner of an excellent farm of four hundred and fifty acres in Tallula and Petersburg precincts, he came to this county without capital and was first employed as a farm hand.
A native of Scotland, Mr. Welsh was born in Dundee, April 1, 1838, his parents being John and Joanna (Baxter) Welsh. When the old established church of Scotland was divided because of difference of opinion among its membership, Mr. and Mrs. John Welsh withdrew from the old organization and became members of what was known as the Free church, and their son George was one of the first pupils in the schools established by the new denomination. For long generations the ancestors of the family had resided in Scotland. The grandfather of our subject was a farmer there, but the father became a grain merchant. He married Miss Baxter, whose people were largely engaged in manufacturing; making a specialty of sail cloth and bagging. Her father, however, lived retired from business for many years. Her cousin, David Baxter, was a member of parliament. Mrs. Joanna Welsh died in Scotland, after which her husband married Mrs. Elizabeth Bruce, a widow, and crossed the Atlantic to America with his family, settling on a farm near Toronto, Canada, in 1839. He had five children. For many years he carried on agricultural pursuits there and at his death, which occurred in 1896, his remains were interred in a cemetery north of Toronto.
George B. Welsh is the eldest of his father's family. Eliza, the second child, married Andrew Miller, who resides at Thornhills, Canada, not far from Toronto. John is married and resides at Listoll, in Upper Canada. James married and resided in Stockton, California. He served as mayor of that city and was president of the First National Bank there. He learned the miller's trade in New York and went to the west a poor boy, but at the time of his death he had amassed a fortune of almost a million dollars. He died July 26, 1904, leaving a wife and three daughters. William resides at the old home at Thornhills, Canada.
George B. Welsh spent the first eleven years of his life in his native country and then accompanied his father to Canada, after which he had no opportunity to attend school. His youth was largely a period of unremitting toil and he labored persistently and earnestly to get a start in the business world. He came to Illinois in 1863 and the first year worked as a farm hand for twenty-five dollars per month. He afterward operated rented land for about eight or ten years, and then, his labor, economy and careful management having brought to him some capital, he purchased a tract of land in Little Grove. To his original purchase of three hundred acres he has since added two hundred acres, so that he is now one of the extensive landowners of the county, his possessions being valuable, because of the many improvements he has placed upon his farm and the high state of cultivation under which he has placed his fields.
In 1860 Mr. Welsh married Miss Catherine Miller, a daughter of Nathan Miller, who belonged to an old Pennsylvania-Dutch family and came from the Keystone state to Illinois in the fall of 1863, bringing with him his two children. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Welsh are as follows: John ,who lives in Cass county, Illinois, married Lillie Wilson, of Menard county, and they have three daughters. Joanna is the wife of Robert Wood, who resides on a farm four miles east of Petersburg, and they have two sons and a daughter. Geines G., who is living south of Petersburg and is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellow, married Elizabeth Held and they have two sons and a daughter. George, who was a miller, lives with his uncle James in California. Herbert, a graduate of the high school of Tallula and of the Springfield Business College, is now at home. Christina and May are also at home and the latter, after graduating from the Tallula high school, taught for two years. Minnie attended the high school of Tallula and later entered the Illinois Woman's College, at Jacksonville, Illinois, where she is studying piano and voice culture. Mrs. Welsh is a member of the Christian church at Tallula, to which all of her children belong save John and George. The family occupies an enviable position in social circles and the Welsh household is a hospitable one.
Politically Mr. Welsh is a Republican, conversant with the questions and issues of the day, but never an aspirant for office. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, having been made a Mason in Clinton Lodge, No. 19, A.F.&A.M., at Petersburg, more than thirty years ago. He has always been true to its teachings, exemplifying in his daily life the beneficent spirit of the craft.