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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


WILLIAM J. LATHOM. On section 13, township 16, range 9 west, lies one of the fairest and best-tilled farms in this part of Morgan County, and its fortunate owner is the gentleman whose name is at the head of this biographical review. Said farm comprises 297 acres of fertile land, well adapted to the needs of the stock-grower, in which pursuit our subject is chiefly engaged, and all the grain that it produces is fed to his fine herd of well graded cattle.

Mr. Lathom comes of Southern blood, and his ancestors figure as pioneers of Kentucky and Indiana. He is also a pioneer, as he came to this county in the days of '49 and cast in his lot with the early settlers of this township. For forty years he has been managing and constantly improving his present homestead, until with its substantial, conveniently-arranged frame buildings, and, indeed, in all its appointments it compares well with the best estates of this vicinity.

William Lathom, grandfather of our subject, born in 1769, is supposed to have been a native of Virginia, and was at all events married in the Old Dominion, Miss Nancy Norman becoming his wife. They removed to Kentucky in the early days of its settlement, and in 1807 they once more took up the march to a still more unsettled part of the country. Penetrating the forest primeval of the southwestern part of the Territory of Indiana to Gibson County, they identified themselves with its early pioneers, hewed a farm out of the heavily timbered land, and built up a comfortable home in which they spent their last days in peace and plenty, and amid its primitive surroundings reared their children to lives of usefulness. Their son, Ollie, was killed by the Indians in 1815, his cruel captors having stripped his clothes from his body and chopped him to pieces; James died when young.

Jonathan Lathom, the father of our subject, was the second son of these worthy people, and he was born in Kentucky in 1805, and was scarce two years of age when his parents took him to their new home in the wilderness of Southern Indiana. He grew to a strong and self-reliant manhood, and married, in 1827, and established a home of his own, Miss Elinor, daughter of James Brown, a pioneer of Indiana, who went there from North Carolina, becoming his wife. She was born in North Carolina, and was quite young when her parents removed to Indiana. Mr. Lathom was reared to the life of a farmer, and prosperously followed that calling on his homestead in Indiana, until he was gathered to his fathers in 1877. His wife died in 1879, in Morgan County. Four sons and six daughters were born to them, as follows: William J., James; two girls who died in infancy; Jonathan, Isephena, Sarah, George, Nancy and Richard.

Their son William was a bright, active lad, and on the old Indiana homestead where he had first seen the light of day he grew to man's estate. He early displayed the independence, push and foresight so necessary to success in any calling, and having adopted that to which he had been bred, having a clear, practical knowledge of it in all its branches, he determined to make his way to the broad open prairies of the part of Illinois embraced in Morgan County, actuated by the same pioneer spirit that had animated his sires before him, and in 1849 he came to this neighborhood and has ever since made his home here. The success that has met him in his endeavors to develop a farm from the wild prairies has been recorded, and he is now in comfortable circumstances. He has erected a commodious set of frame buildings, including a neatly painted, artistically styled frame house and a good roomy barn, and everything about the place is in good repair.

Mr. Lathom has been twice married. He was wedded in his early manhood to Miss Rhoda J., daughter of Isham Lynn. By this marriage he had the following eight children: Jonathan J., George R. (deceased); a child that died in infancy; Lydia A., now Mrs. Martin Robinson, of whom see sketch on another page of this volume; Samuel C., Stephen D., William N.; Hattie E., now Mrs. Charles Virgin (of whom see sketch on another page in this volume). Mrs. Lathom died in 1870, leaving to those who loved her the memory of a true and pleasant womanhood. Mr. Lathom later married Miss Jane, daughter of Isaac R. and Mary (Jones) Bennitt, and one son, Robert T., has blessed their union. Mrs. Lathom is a devoted member of the Baptist Church, and in every deed shows herself to be guided by high Christian Principles.

The citizenship of this community received a worthy recruit when our subject came here to establish a home among its intelligent, industrious people forty years ago, and neither by word or deed has he shown himself unworthy of the confidence in which he is held by all. He interests himself in the politics of his country, and is a stalwart Democrat.

1889 Index
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