JOHN R. PHILLIPS is one of the leading farmers and stock-raisers of township 16, range 10, and is especially noted far and wide as a breeder of fine Percheron horses. He has a large farm on section 35, that in respect of cultivation and improvement is conceded to be one of the most valuable as well as one of the most desirable estates in the vicinity. Mr. Phillips represents well-know pioneer families, who were among its early settlers. He was reared here in those primitive times, and has a distinct recollection of the country when its broad, rolling prairies scarcely knew cultivation, and the fine old primeval forest trees along the water courses had been but little disturbed by the ax of the bold frontiersmen of fifty or more years ago. From this beautiful region, which but a short time before had been the home of the Indian, bears, wolves, deer, wild turkeys, and other wild game had not yet fled before advancing steps of civilization. In the great changes that the years have wrought since then our subject has played an important part, and he is now numbered among the wealthy and substantial agriculturists that are the mainstay of the prosperity and high standing of the county.
Our subject comes of good New Jersey stock, his grandfather, Titus, and his father, Spencer phillips, having been born and bred in that State. It is thought that all of the grandfather's children were born in that State, and in 1816 he moved from there to Hamilton County, Ohio, with his family, and thus became a pioneer of that part of the country. He remained there until 1831, and then disposing of his property he once more became a pioneer, removing still further westward and in the spring of 1832 he located with his family on the farm now owned by our subject; the parents and maternal grandparents of the latter coming here at the same time. His grandmother Phillips died a few years later, and the grandfather died, perhaps fifteen years after their settlement here.
The father of our subject was among the younger ones of his parents' family, and was born May 8, 1800, and was a lad of sixteen when his parents emigrated to Ohio. In that State he was reared to a vigorous manhood, and was there united in marriage to Miss Hannah Robison, a native of New York, who had accompanied her parents to the Buckeye State in its pioneer days. After coming to Illinois he bought 160 acres of wild land jointly with his father, the old homestead now being included in the farm owned by our subject. In the comfortable home that was built up by their united labors the parents passed their remaining days, enjoying the respect and regard of their neighbors, among whom they numbered many warm friends, and when they were gathered to their fathers leaving to their descendants, by whom their memory is held in reference, the precious legacy of lives spent in well-doing and guided by the highest Christian principles. The mother was a consistent member of the Baptist Church, but the father never identified himself with any Church, although he was converted at the age of sixteen and ever after led a true and Christian life, dying firm in the faith. In his politics, he was a good Democrat. To him and his wife were born fourteen children, ten of whom grew to maturity, as follows: Wilson, Allen, Francina, Elizabeth, John R., Sarah, Titus, Robison, William, Martha E. and of these five survive.
The subject of this sketch was born in Ohio, Oct. 15, 1830, and as we have seen was reared on the farm where he still makes his home, having been a mere infant when his parents brought him here. In the years that have passed since he attained man's estate his energetic and persistent toil have brought him due reward in the handsome property that he has accumulated. His farm comprises 480 acres of choice farming land, well fenced, and provided with an excellent set of well-appointed buildings and with an ample supply of modern machinery for various agricultural purposes. During the last few years he has made a specialty of rearing Percheron horses of fine breed, and he has some fine blooded horses of that blood, among which we may mention, Arthur, registered No. 5,546; and Frank, registered No. 6,520, a fine gray, imported from France, foaled April 25, 1885, and brought to this country by M. W. Dunham in 1886.
In the month of May, 1868 Mr. Phillips and Miss Margaret E. Berry were united in the holy bonds of matrimony, and in their pleasant home five children have blessed their wedded life, all of whom are members of the household yet, as follows - William H., Spencer L., Charles E., John H., David E. Mrs. Phillips is a daughter of William and Margaret (Sharp) Berry of this township. She is in every respect all that a true wife and devoted mother can be, and all who come under her influence hold her in high estimation. In her Methodist Episcopal Church finds one of its most valued members.
During the many years that Mr. Phillips has lived in this county as a boy and man he has made an extensive acquaintance and all who come in contact with him either in a business or social way unite in testifying to his integrity of purpose and never failing honesty in action. In all the years of his manhood he has walked the undeviating path of honor, justice and right, and is looked up to with respect by all in the community. He is one of the influential members of the Baptist Church, and always actively cooperates with his pastor and fellow-members in all its good work. He may be said to have inherited his political beliefs from his Democratic ancestry, and ever stands firmly by his party in success or defeat.