THOMAS McALLISTER, a prominent Irish-American citizen of Morgan County, is a native of County Antrim, Ireland, and was born Nov. 1, 1828. He was a son of Robert and Annie (Garden) McAllister, both natives of the North of Ireland. His father was of Scotch origin, while his mother was of Irish descent. He was reared in his native country, where he learned thoroughly to be a farmer. He here received a fair education, and having been a constant reader all his life, he has become what may be called a fairly posted, well educated man. He emigrated to America in the summer of 1848, taking passage at Belfast, from which place he proceeded to Liverpool, and from there sailed for America in the ship "Uriel," and after a voyage of nine weeks and three days, landed in New Orleans, where he remained for three weeks, being afflicted with a bad case of small-pox, which disease was contracted on the vessel. For many days his life was despaired of but he finally recovered his health.
Mr. McAllister's first impressions of America, as viewed from a sick bed, where he lay afflicted with one of the most loathsome diseases known, were not likely to inspire him with hope, and favorable opinions of his adopted land. But he was not built of the stuff that is easily turned aside by discouragement. After his recovery, he boarded a steamboat at New Orleans and came to Beardstown, Ill., where he secured a position of attending a warehouse, a place he retained for three years. He was afterward engaged for a short time in driving a team for a merchant at Chandlerville, Ill. He was also in the employ of another merchant for about one year in the same town.
On Jan. 5, 1854, Mr. McAllister was married to Miss Hannah Needham, by whom he has eleven children. Seven of these are living, as follows: Robert, is a resident of Cass County, Ill. Ann married Joseph Horom, of Logan County, Ill.; Mary is the wife of T. Masterson, of Cass County, Ill.; Alice is now Mrs. Sibert and resides in this county; Joseph, Thomas B. and Emma are living at home. For a long time Mr. McAllister rented a place, but as his financial condition improved, he bought a farm of eighty acres of land near Hickory school-house, in Cass County, Ill., and settled thereon. He lived there several years, when he sold out and bought a quarter section where he now lives. Later he purchased 160 acres more, which in all makes him a farm of a half section. This place is under excellent cultivation, and being of the average Meredosia bottom land, it is necessarily very fertile. His half section of land has cost him $21,300.
By good management, strict attention to business and probity of character, Mr. McAllister has surmounted all the obstacles that a poor man has to encounter in a comparatively new country, and has risen to the top. He is a representative farmer and stock-raiser and is considered an authority in these vocations. Politically, he is a Democrat, and has served as School Director in Cass County for many years. He is identified with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as is also his wife. They take great comfort in their church relations, and are never happier than when doing some act of charity. Mr. McAllister has a very extended acquaintance in this county, and is favorably known as being a man of sound judgment. He is proud of the fact that the first President for whom he voted was Franklin Pierce.
Mrs. McAllister is a native of England, and was born April 27, 1834. She is a daughter of Joseph and Machel (deceased) Needham. When but a small girl she came with her parents of America, and settled in Jacksonville in an early day, where her father attained prominence as a well-to-do farmer. Her father now lives in Cass County, Ill. In closing this brief sketch it should be stated that there is probably not a more popular couple living in Morgan County than Mr. and Mrs. McAllister, and they are so by reason of merit.