CHARLES J. DRURY. One of the finest farms in Morgan County, and the property of the subject of this sketch, comprises 360 acres of choice land lying on section 27, township 15, north range, 9 west. It is largely devoted to stock-raising, and under the careful cultivation of a period of fifty-six years, is abundantly productive of any crop which the proprietor may wish to raise. He early began a system of tiling, using before pottery came into existence, fence boards, which have since been replaced by the more modern methods of drainage. The farm buildings in their style of architecture and substantial character complete the modern idea of improvements upon the country estate of to-day.
Mr. Drury and his wife occupy a position among the first families of Morgan County. The latter is the author of "A Fruitful Life," compiled from memory on the life of her father, and which is published and sold by the American Sunday-school Union of Philadelphia. Mr. Drury is a gentleman, charitable, refined, and one who from the advantages of a fine library gains rich stores of information. The home comforts that surround this family are unexcelled. Everything within and without indicates cultivated tastes and ample means, and they welcome within their hospitable doors a host of friends.
Our subject was born in Sciota County, Ohio, Oct. 6, 1822. His parents were Lawson and Ann (Smith) Drury, natives respectively of New Hampshire and Vermont, and both were born in the year 1800. Lawson Drury died when a young man of thirty-three years, of cholera, at the farm which his son now occupies. The mother survived her husband a period of thirty-three years, remaining a widow and passed away in March, 1865. The parents came to Illinois in the spring of 1831, and the father purchased 160 acres of land, afterward entering eighty acres adjoining. Charles J. continued with his mother and took care of her until her death, attending the district school and making himself useful about the homestead as he gained in strength and knowledge.
Lawson Drury, Sr., the paternal grandfather of our subject, was born in Shrewsbury, Mass., 1770. He was a man of fine capacities, taught school during his younger years, and upon leaving his native State located in New Hampshire. Thence he emigrated to Ohio, where he officiated as Postmaster and Magistrate at Haverhill, and finally became Associate Judge, occupying the bench for a period of ten years in Portsmouth, Ohio. Mrs. Ann (Smith) Drury, the mother of our subject, was a well educated lady and taught school successfully for a number of years before her marriage. Possessing great refinement and cultivation, she was highly esteemed by all who knew her, and was a devoted member of the Presbyterian Church.
The subject of this sketch was ten years of age at the time of his father's death, and under the wise and judicious training of his excellent mother developed into a man imbued with the highest principles of right and rectitude. Strictly temperate he was the first man in his community to dispense with whiskey in the harvest field, a custom which was once prevalent during the early history of Illinois. He still continues a stanch advocate of the cause of temperance. As soon as of sufficient years and judgment he assumed the management of a farm, and with the aid of his mother conducted it successfully from that time on. The household included six children, only two of whom are living, our subject, and a sister older, Mrs. Martha J. Wiswell, a resident of Henry County, Mo.
On the 21st of May, 1867, Mr. Drury was united in marriage with Miss Belle Paxson at the home of the bride in Jacksonville. The parents of Mrs. Drury, Stephen and Sarah (Pryor) Paxson, were natives respectively of Tennessee and Ohio. The latter is still living, making her home with her son, in the city of St. Louis, Mo. She was in early life a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but later identified herself with the Congregationalists, with whom she still preserves her membership.
Stephen Paxson, who in earlier days was well known as the pioneer Sunday-school Missionary of Illinois and Missouri, was the son of Joseph and Mary (Lester) Paxson, and was born Nov. 3, 1808, in New Lisbon, Ohio. The name was originally spelled with a T. The first representatives of the family in this country were three brothers who crossed the ocean from England during the Colonial days. Joseph Paxson was born in Virginia, and his wife, Mary, in Maryland. They were married in the Old Dominion, whence they removed to Columbiana, Ohio. They became the parents of seven children of whom Stephen was next to the youngest. The father died while these were young; her circumstances forced the mother to seek homes for her children among strangers. Each one became a child of Him who has made a special promise to the fatherless.
Through his own exertions Stephen Paxon secured an education, after mastering untold difficulties late in life, for he at the age of thirty years was scarcely able to read. He was early imbued with those sentiments of religion which inclined him to earnest effort in the Master's vineyard, and to strain every nerve in this field of labor. By his untiring energy he established over 1,300 Sunday-schools, by which means 80,000 children were brought under the influence of religious training. He became one of the most effective speakers in the land, holding spell-bound audiences in all the leading cities in the United States as he recited his experiences in the cause to which he had devoted his life.
To Stephen Paxson, Illinois is indebted for her admirable system of county and township Sunday School organization. He was the instigator of the first convention held in the State of Illinois, and frequently assembled mass-meetings in the groves, which were attended oftentimes by as many as 3,000 people. He was never lengthy or tiresome in his discourse; an earnest talk of thirty minutes was usually the time he employed to convince his hearers of the necessity and importance of this great work among the young. From his excessive labors grew the present county and township Sunday school organizations of the Prairie State.
At the seventh annual convention of Illinois Sunday-school workers held in Peoria in June, 1865. Mr. Paxson presented his views on this subject and urged the appointment of a special committee whose duty it should be to take the matter in hand and prosecute it throughout the State. His plan was seconded by D.L. Moody, Mr. Vincent and others, and unanimously adopted by the convention. Moreover a fund of $2,500 was raised on the spot. Those interested immediately went to work and never ceased their pious efforts until 102 counties of Illinois were thoroughly organized. The whole life of Mr. Paxson was devoted to religious labors, and thousands of hearts well nigh stood still when the telegram flashed over the country that "Father Paxson" was no more. His death occurred in may, 1881, and the long funeral train which followed his remains to their last resting place, attested more forcibly than words could do the estimation in which he was held by the people.
The lady now familiarly known in this county as Mrs. Belle (Paxson) Drury was graduated from the Methodist Female College at Jacksonville, in 1863. She continued in that institution as a teacher for a period of four years. Previous to becoming a student at Jacksonville she had pursued her studies at Monticello Seminary in Godfrey, Ill. Of her union with our subject there were born two children, a son and daughter, Frank E. June 11, 1869, and Edith, July 16, 1873. The former, a bright and promising young man, has just entered upon his junior year in the college at Jacksonville. Edith is pursuing a classical course in the Presbyterian Female Academy.
Mr. Drury is identified with the Presbyterian Church, in which he is a Deacon, while his wife is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Drury, politically, is an earnest Republican, and has held the office of Township Trustee for a number of years. Mr. Drury first visited the farm which later became and still continues his home, when a lad nine years of age, in company with his uncle and his mother, riding in a carriage once owned by Gen. LaFayette, and which he rode in while visiting this country in 1824. The General met with the misfortune of having his carriage overturned into the river, and its white silk linings were thereby very much damaged. Taking another, he proceeded on his journey, leaving orders to have his carriage sold, and the uncle of Mr. Drury purchased it.
To the parents of Mrs. Drury there were born eleven children, five of whom died in infancy: six are now living. William is a Presbyterian minister and Superintendent of the missions of the Sunday school Union for the Southwest, having under his supervision twenty-six men engaged in missionary labors. He usually spends his winters in the East lecturing in behalf of the mission. The mantle of his honored father has in a large measure descended upon him. Corey, the youngest brother, and also an evangelist, has for three years been the assistant of Dr. Pentecost in his pastoral work in the city of Brooklyn, N.Y. Frederick is a lawyer of note in the city of St. Louis, Mo.