Our subject is of Celtic antecedents on the paternal side of the house, his father, also named William, having been born in Ireland, coming to this country when a boy with his parents, who settled in the State of New Jersey. His mother, Ann (Webster) McCullough, was a native of New Jersey, and there spent her entire life, dying Dec. 18, 1876. The father was a practical, skillful farmer, and successfully carried on that occupation till his death in 1852. Both he and his wife were true Christians, and valued members of the Presbyterian Church, and in dying left the precious memory of lives well spent. They had eleven children, nine boys and two girls, all of whom are living except three. He of whom we write was their ninth child in order of birth, and was born to them May 18, 1828, in their home in Somerset County, N.J. He received the education commonly given to farmers= boys in the public schools, and as a bright, intelligent lad profited thereby. He worked with his father on the farm till he was seventeen years old, and then served an apprenticeship at the carpenter=s trade the three ensuing years, and after that worked as a journeyman in his native State a year. At the expiration of that time he ambitiously concluded that he would go forth far beyond its bounds and see what life held for him in the great West, and in the spring of 1850 he started on that ever memorable journey, going from his New Jersey home to Philadelphia by train, and proceeding from that city by the same conveyance to Boston, from there over the Alleghany Mountains by stage, and thence by boat to Pittsburg, and so on to St. Louis, and up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers to Naples, taking eighteen days to make the trip, and landing in Jacksonville in the month of March. He immediately agreed to go to work at his trade the next day, and after working there a few weeks, and earning some money, he went to Tazewell County the same spring, and entered 160 acres of land from the Government. Engaging a surveyor to stake it out he returned to Springfield and bought a land warrant for 160 acres for $90. Retaining possession of this land a year he sold it for $300, and a few years later the rise in real estate had been so great that it was worth $25 an acre. After selling his land in Tazewell County Mr. McCullough bought 160 acres of fine farming land in Scott County, of Robert Haggard, for which he agreed to pay $4,000, $1,000 down, and $1,000 each year thereafter till it was paid, without interest, and ten per cent off if paid before due, and he managed so successfully that the last payment was made for $900, he having rented the farm and kept busily at work at his trade in order to obtain the money to make the payments.
March 31, 1853, Mr. McCullough=s marriage with Miss Martha A., daughter of J. B. Campbell, one of the first settlers of Scott County, was consumated. During the brief years of their wedded life she greatly aided in the upbuilding of a home, but Nov. 3, 1860, death crossed the threshold and took her from the scene of her usefulness. She left two children, of whom the following is the record, Cynthia Ann, born April 13, 1855, married Luther Hornbeck, and died Dec. 27, 1888; Jane, born March 8, 1857, is the wife of John M. Allyn, of St. Louis, and they have two children, a boy and a girl. Mr. Allyn is Secretary of the Telegraphic Department of the Missouri Pacific Railway, at St. Louis, with a salary of $1,800 a year.
Mr. McCullough was married to his present wife, formerly Miss Emily J. Camp, Oct. 16, 1862. She is a daughter of George and Nancy (Felton) Camp, of Scott County. Her father was one of the first settlers here, walking the entire distance from his old home among the green hills of Vermont, and Mrs. McCullough preserves as a relic of that journey the knapsack in which he carried his few belongings on that eventful trip. The following is the record of the seven children that have been born of the happy wedded life of our subject and his amiable wife: Sarah Victorine was born Oct. 9, 1863; William Grant, July 6, 1865; Abel Camp, Oct. 2, 1866; Laura Brasfield, June 6, 1868; Harriet Amanda, March 12, 1870; George Howard, March 23, 1875; Warren Elmer, Dec. 1, 1877.
From the very commencement of his career in the West our subject has met with more than ordinary success, from a financial standpoint, and has constantly been increasing his property till now he owns real estate to the amount of 1,080 acres, forming one of the most extensive and valuable farms in this part of Illinois. Shortly after his first marriage he bought the John Cox farm, of 104 acres, at $40 an acre, and after his second marriage he bought the William Cox farm, of 120 acres, at the same price. He then abandoned his trade, and has since devoted himself entirely to agricultural pursuits, and to the management of his property. His next purchase was sixty acres of land of John Hornbeck, for which he paid $80 an acre, and after that he bought 100 acres of land of Marshall Smith, at the same price. He subsequently invested still more money in land, as follows: He bought 160 acres of M. W. Riggs, at $50 per acre; then 262 acres of William D. Campbell, at $75 an acre, after that 160 acres of William A. Gillham, at the same sum per acre. Just before buying the William Campbell place he sold 100 acres of land to J. N. Campbell. He traded seventeen acres of land to John Coultas for eighty-three acres of land west of the railway, paying for the difference at the rate of $75 an acre. Later he bought fifty-five acres of the Joe Campbell farm, at $75 an acre, which completes his purchases up to date. Mr. McCullough has his farm under a fine state of cultivation, employing three men to assist him in its management, and six teams to work the land. He is extensively engaged in raising cattle of high grades, feeding from 100 to 150 a year, and raises about 200 hogs a year.
Mr. McCullough occupies a prominent position among the generous, high minded, open handed men of Scott County, who, while building up fortunes for themselves have not been unmindful of the interests of their adopted precinct and county, but have in every way striven to give an impetus to their growth and development, and have been instrumental in securing to them wealth and high standing. He has donated very largely to churches, regardless of denomination; contributed $600 toward the erection of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Riggston, of which he is a member, and aided in the building of nearly all the churches in the vicinity: one at Bethel, one at Exeter, and three in Winchester, Rutledge Chapel and Benson Chapel. He has been a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church since February, 1856, is one of the leaders in the church at Riggston, of which he has been Steward and Trustee continuously, and a worker in the Sunday-School. Mrs. McCullough and six of the children have also united with that church. In his wife he has found a true helpmate, who has encouraged him in his work, and heartily co-operated with him in all his plans.
Our subject has been School Director, and he erected a fine two-story brick school-house half a mile west of his home for the accomodation of the children in the district. His influence has been felt in other public matters, and the neat railway station at Riggston owes its existence mostly to his liberality and enterprise, as he as contributed $500 toward its erection. Mr. McCullough takes a genuine interest in the political affairs of his country, and has always voted the Democratic ticket, being one of the stanchest supporters of his party. He was in attendance at the National Democratic Convention at St. Louis, in 1888.
Our subject is gifted with a fine constitution, and has always enjoyed good health till within the last three years, since which time he has suffered with dyspepsia, and has tried medical treatment here and at St. Louis with but little avail. It is the sincere wish of his many friends that this severe affliction may pass away, and he be restored to his normal health.