Life passed with the young people amid many privations and hardships for the first few years, and then they began to realize that they were making some headway. The qualities which our subject had inherited from his substantial English ancestry were bound to win, and his career has been a marvel as much to himself, perhaps, as to those who have watched him. A native of Lancashire, England, Mr. Bracewell was born Feb. 14, 1816, and is the son of Henry and Amy (Wright) Bracewell. The father emigrated to American when the boy, John, was but an infant of a few weeks, leaving his family in England.
Soon after landing in New York City, the father of our subject made his way to Pittsburg, and then over the mountains to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he joined his brother-in-law, Joseph Wright, and engaged in a tannery. Later he started southwestward for New Orleans, and was never again seen by his family, all trace of him even being lost. John was reared by his mother and grandfather, John Wright.
Our subject was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, and was self-educated, having never attended school. He lived on a farm until fifteen years old and then met with an accident which left him a cripple, and he then learned the shoemaker's trade at which he served until reaching his majority. Then opening a shop for himself in Derbyshire, he conducted this prosperously for three years, giving employment to many men besides himself. The voyage to America, in 1840, was made on a sailing vessel, the "John Taylor", which left Liverpool on the 5th of August and was wrecked by a storm off the Island of Cuba, where the passengers who were saved remained about twenty days, until re-embarking on another vessel, by which they reached New Orleans. Mr. Bracewell was thus ten weeks enroute to America, and in the Crescent City followed his trade thereafter for several months. Thence he removed to a point eighty miles from Cincinnati, Ohio, with his uncle, Joseph Wright, and in 1841 came to Illinois and purchased thirty acres of land in Greene County. Subsequently he entered forty acres from the Government and transformed this from a wild prairie into a productive and valuable farm, while at the same time, as opportunity offered, he employed himself at his trade.
For the first few years Mr. Bracewell and wife occupied a small log cabin on his Greene County farm, and in due time was enabled to build a better home. He had been married on the 5th of March, 1842, to Miss Sarah Whitlock. This lady was born in Russell County, Ky., Feb. 15, 1815, to William and Rose A. Whitlock, who were natives of Virginia. They lived in the Blue Grass State, probably fifteen years, then coming to Illinois, settled four miles south of what was then the unimportant village of Jacksonville, in time to experience the rigors of the deep snow which followed. A few months later they changed their location to the southern part of the county, where they spent the remainder of their lives.
While financially prosperous Mr. and Mrs. Bracewell have been visited by affliction in the loss of all their children - Henry, died at the age of thirty years; Amy, Rosanna, and Mary, all died in early life. They removed from the farm in Greene County to Murrayville in the spring of 1866, and although in a condition to lay aside the cares and labors of life, the active temperament of Mr. Bracewell will not permit him to be idle and now, at the age of over seventy-three years, he looks after his interests with his characteristic good judgment and much of his old time energy.
While not a member of any religious organization, Mr. Bracewell acknowledges the value of the Church in a community, and contributes his full share to its support. He is a Democrat in politics, and has served as School Director and in other local offices in Greene County. About 1862 he identified himself with the Masonic fraternity and now belongs to the Lodge at Murrayville. The story of his pioneership, told in all its details, would make a large and interesting volume. His mother never came to America and died in England, November, 1887, at the advanced age of ninety-three years.