DAVID MANCHESTER, deceased, was a noble type of the dauntless, hardy pioneer of Illinois, and Morgan County, of which he was an early settler, is greatly indebted to him, for what he did to promote its progress and high position it has attained among its prosperous and wealthy sister counties. Coming here in the days when the country was thinly inhabited by white people, and the Indians were still lingering around their old haunts, and there were scarcely any traces of the coming civilization, he had in the vigor of early manhood thrown himself heart and soul into the pioneer work before him, and in the long years of toil, sacrifice and hardship that followed he bravely and energetically performed his part in the upbuilding of a great commonwealth. His labors in behalf of himself and family were amply rewarded by the wealth that he succeeded in accumulating, and at the time of his death he owned a beautiful home, a large and valuable farm of more than 400 acres, had a surplus at the bank and owed no man a cent.
Our subject was born in Warren County, N.Y., in 1798, coming of good Revolutionary stock, his father, Thomas Manchester, having aided his fellow-colonists to get their freedom from the mother country, and in the course of the conflict receiving a would, for which he drew a pension the rest of his life. He was of English ancestry.
Our subject passed his boyhood in his native county, and while still a lad served thirty days in the war of 1812 as a fifer, under Gen. Strong and Capt. Spencer. At the age of seventeen he left the parental home to work in the lumber business at Quebec, N.Y. He afterward determined to make his way to the then almost unknown West, and see what life held for him in these wilds, and going to Ft. Duquesne, in Pennsylvania, he bought a skiff in which he floated down the Ohio River to Shawneetown, Ill., and thence he proceeded on foot to Miner Burton, below St. Louis. He worked in a lead mine at that place two years, and then walked to St. Louis, where he worked in a livery stable four months for $5 a month. At the expiration of that time he again set forth on a pedestrian tour, and coming to this county he settled in this township.
At that time Mr. Manchester had less than a dollar in his pocket, but he went to work with characteristic energy to obtain the wherewithal to supply him with the necessities of life, and the first thing he did was to split 500 rails for a pair of shoes, the leather being tanned here in a trough by Kasbier, with the hair not half removed. In order to procure material for clothes he raised cotton, which he took to Beardstown and traded for the required articles of apparel. During the time of the Indian troubles he took an active part against the savages, and served through the whole campaign in the Black Hawk War with Gen. Taylor, Jeff Davis and Abraham Lincoln, he having been a member of Col. Ewing's Spy Battalion. He went into the Mexican War as chief musician under Col. Hardin, but was taken sick, and sent back to Jacksonville, where he was discharged from the service. He was for some time engaged in making and burning brick in 1835. He devoted much of his time to agricultural pursuits, raising cattle, etc., and had his large farm well stocked, and became one of the leading and most prosperous farmers in this part of the county, his farm on section 5, township 16 north, range 8 west, comparing with the very best in this region.
June 12, 1825, was the date of his marriage with Miss Ethia Linda Cox. they were well suited to each other in mind and temperament, and in the years that they passed together, numbering over half a century, they mutually aided each other in making life a success, and from first to last their journey together was as happy as usually falls to the lot of mortals. In this homestead, which once belonged to her father, and to which she came when a girl in her teens, and where the most of her married life was passed, with the exception of a few years in the western part of this county, Mrs. Manchester is spending her declining years, and though more than fourscore years have whitened her venerable head she still retains much of her old time mental and physical vigor, and is active in spite of her years. Of her wedded life nine children were born, as follows: Thomas, Helen and Elizabeth (deceased), and Louisa; Van Rensselaer; James and David (deceased), Jerome, Josephine (deceased).
Mrs. Manchester is a native of Henry County, Va., born Oct. 9, 1803, to John and Jane (Prunty) Cox, who were also natives of that county. Early in the present century they removed to Anton County, Tex., and thence to Southern Illinois in the fall of 1819. They passed the following winter near St. Louis, and then her father came to this locality in the spring of 1820, and bought the farm where Mrs. Manchester and her family now live. After his daughter's marriage he removed with the other members of his family to Iowa, where his earthly pilgrimage was at last stayed by the hand of death. After his demise his widow came to this county and died at the home of our subject.
In this brief life-record of one so worthy of all honor and praise, the biographer can do but scant justice to the character of the subject. Here where so many years of his active and useful life were passed, and where his honorable career was brought to a close Sept. 6, 1878. at the venerable age of eighty years, his memory is cherished by the many who knew and venerated him as a pioneer, and as one of our best citizens, a kind neighbor and a well-loved friend. He always took a lively interest in politics, and he and his father-in-law and one other man were the only three to vote for James Monroe in this county. He was always an ardent follower of the Republican party after its organization.
Miss Louisa Manchester, the daughter of our subject, is managing her father's large property with success, displaying ability and business tact of a high order, and keeping up the farm to the same standard that it had attained under her father's care.