BAPTIST, JOHN, a venerable and highly respected citizen of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., who after a prosperous career as a farmer is now living in retirement, was born on the Island of Madeira, September 30, 1830, the son of Joseph and Johanna Baptist, natives of the same place, where his father died at the age of sixty years. He was the father of five sons. In 1846, after the death of his father, four of the sons who were Protestants, fled to Trinidad, an island of the West Indies, to escape religious persecutions, while the eldest brother remained in care of the old home. The family spent three years in Trinidad, and during that period the eldest of the four brothers, who was married, died, as did also one of his children. His other child came on with its grandmother and uncles, and is now living in Jacksonville, the mother of sixteen daughters. In 1849, with other Portuguese exiles, the family embarked for New York, where they landed August 1st of that year. The unusual climate caused considerable sickness in the party, and John Baptist and his mother were compelled to remain in New York three months on account of the illness of the third son. They finally journeyed to Naples, Ill., and thence proceeded to Waverly, Ill., where they were cared for by friends. During the next year, the third son, Mediers, died in New York, having never fully recovered from his former sickness.
John Baptist worked in Waverly three years, and then located in Jacksonville, where through the influence of Dr. Hiram K. Jones, he secured employment on the farm at the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane. He was soon promoted to be night watchman, which position he held for four years. He was afterward engaged in teaming for a number of years, and then carried on farming on rented land. Together with seven other persons he bought eighty acres of timber land in Section 1, Township 15, Range 11, Morgan County, but cleared and cultivated most of the land himself as he was one of the purchasers who owned a team. By industry and thrift, he was gradually enabled to buy the interests of his partners, and finally acquired the title to the tract. In 1892, he purchased another farm of 110 acres in Section 1, Township 15, Range 12, and also bought some city property. Mr. Baptist is a resident of Jacksonville, from which point he had managed his farming and city interests.
About the year 1855, Mr. Baptist was united in marriage with Mary Rodgers. This union resulted in the following children, namely: Caroline; Charles; Julia, wife of Joseph Goveia; Robert; John; Mary, wife of John Oliver; Louis; Ellen; Laura; Theodore Thomas; Libby; now a Mrs. Farrell, of California, and Amy, wife of Benjamin Andrews, of Jacksonville. The wife of Mr. Baptist has been dead for a number of years, and his unmarried daughters keep house for him. He has always lived an honest and industrious life, and is greatly respected.