GEORGE R. FOX, who is a native of Morgan County, Ill., is a representative farmer and stock-raiser of Bethel Precinct, and is also a practical engineer. He owns and operates a first-class traction engine and threshing machine. He operated one among the first steam threshers in this section. In the winter season he makes the engine stationary, and grinds feed for his stock and that of his neighbors. He was born July 12, 1845, and was a son of John H. and Maria (Ream) Fox, the father being a native of England, and the mother of Germany.
John H. Fox came to America while yet a young man, and for a time lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. He believed that the cities were over crowded and that the Government had an abundance of land so that it could give everybody a farm for a nominal price, and so thinking, he came to Morgan County, accompanied by his father and mother, where plenty of land was found and very cheap. These people were what may truly be called pioneers of Morgan County. The grandfather of George R. Fox was the original settler on the farm now occupied by his grandson. John H. Fox and wife were the parents of eleven children, ten of whom are living: George R.; John H., who is now residing in Kansas; The Rev. Richard E., of the Methodist Protestant Church; Martha was the wife of Thomas Whorten, and is now deceased; Adda is now the widow of Edgar Culver, and resides in Kingman, Kan.; Mary is the wife of Frank Stevenson, and lives in Bozeman, Mont.; Stella is the wife of the Rev. John Green, a minister of the Methodist Protestant Church; Amanda is now Mrs. Herbert Green, of Gibson, Ford Co., Ill.; Thomas, James Z. and Jabez M. are residents of Morgan County. The Fox family is an old and respectable one, and highly thought of.
John H. Fox, the father of the subject of this sketch, was a Republican in politics, and very prominent in his party. He died in February, 1863, and his wife followed in July of the same year. During the war, in 1863, he visited Holly Springs, Miss., prior to its capture, and was there visiting his son, John H., aged sixteen, who was Drum-Major of the 101st Illinois Regiment. He was lying sick in the hospital. Mr. Fox camped with the regiment and was captured with them, but was soon after paroled, and then started on his road home, dying at his sister's, Mrs. Martha French, within a mile of his own home. He was an earnest member of the Methodist Protestant Church, and had served in many important offices in the organization, and in Sunday-school work he was especially zealous. He was one of those solid, substantial men, whose imprint in plainly seen in his posterity. The grandfather of the subject of this sketch was one of the founders of the church in Bethel, and was a man widely known through this part of the country. There is probably not a pioneer in Western Illinois who has not heard of him, and favorably too.
At the time of the death of the parents the eldest child was George R., and he was about eighteen years of age. There were eleven children, and what is quite remarkable, they lived together in perfect harmony at the old homestead until they all married off except two brothers - Thomas E. and Jabez M. - who are still single. The brothers and sisters lived in love and harmony together all these years, and assisted in educating one another, and it is no flattery to say that they are a family of much more than ordinary attainments.
The brothers and sisters cheerfully accord the highest praise to the wife of George R., who came at the early age of seventeen, to take charge of the old home, which by her charms and graces she has assisted in making pleasant and in a measure filled the part of a mother to the younger children. The family are all natural musicians, even to the grandfather and father, who were the first teachers of music in this county. Their extraordinary love for music in probably one of the causes which contributed in a large measure toward holding the children together after the death of their parents. George R's second son is regarded as somewhat of a musical prodigy.
George R. Fox was reared to manhood surrounded by the scenes of pioneer life, and received his education in the early district schools that years ago existed in Illinois. He had the advantage of being trained by conscientious parents, who did nothing except for the good of their children. They were of that self-denying class of people of whom but few are seen in these latter days. But the school advantages of the pioneer days are plenty and cheap; then the houses in which children were taught were of the most primitive kind and devoid of comfort, now the school buildings are models of elegance and comfort; then ignorance and the rod ruled, now intelligence and love. So it can be easily seen that the child of to-day is fortunate in the manner of his securing an education. Mr. Fox is an omnivorous reader, and consequently keeps well posted upon current events. His parents having died while he was yet young, and being the oldest of the family left, the most of the care of the younger children devolved upon him.
Mr. Fox married Miss Maggie Biggers, a native of Washington County, Ky. She is the daughter of Richard and Nannie (Adams) Biggers. They removed to Scott County when Mrs. Fox was only twelve years old, and settled in Winchester, Ill., subsequently moving to Chapin. The mother died in May, 1873. Her father is now living in Chapin. She is the mother of four children, three of whom are living: Freddie B., Richard E., and Walter R. Edgar is deceased. Mr. Fox owns 104 acres of well-improved land, and the buildings thereon are all new, having been built in 1886, and are said to be the finest in Bethel Precinct. Politically, Mr. Fox is a Republican, and has served as School Director for a number of years. Himself and wife are members of the Congregational Church at Joy Prairie. He is Superintendent of the Sunday-school at Chapin, connected with the Methodist Protestant Church, and takes a great interest in its success. He has been Superintendent of that Sunday-school for a period of fourteen years, and his efficient work has done much to hold it together and make it one of the best Sabbath-schools in the county.