LEACH, JOHN SR., (deceased), who was generally known throughout Morgan and the surrounding district as one of the successful farmers and stock raisers of Morgan County, was born in Yorkshire, England, March 25, 1823, the son of John and Ann (Duckels) Leach. In the spring of 1829 his parents came to America, settling in Morgan County, his father entering a Government claim about three miles west of Jacksonville, its location being one of the most sightly and attractive in the entire State of Illinois. He had been reared to agriculture in England, and came to America finely equipped to take his part in the scheme of agricultural development which was then engaging the attention of large numbers of immigrants to the new Western country. His first claim was a tract of 160 acres, to which he soon added by the purchased of 40 acres, giving him a fine farm of 200 acres in one of the most beautiful agricultural regions of the West. He was at first discouraged with the outlook in Illinois and desired to return to his native land, but his wife insisted that they remain, principally because of the benefits which would accrue to the children in the family. His descendants have since had reason to rejoice in his ultimate decision in the matter. The elder Leach died December 26, 1872, at the age of eighty-six years. His wife died August 17, 1881, at the age of ninety years.
John Leach, Sr., enjoyed but limited education facilities, though he made the most of the opportunities in this direction which presented themselves. Under the capable instruction of his practical and hard working father, he became familiar with all branches of farm work. Purchasing his father's farm of 200 acres, he added thereto from time to time always exercising great care in the choice of his land, so that it would center about the site of his home, until he finally was the possessor of 1,000 acres. Some of this land is estimated to be worth, on the open market, fully $150 per acre; and all of it is very fertile and easily cultivable.
The life of the deceased was one of great activity, and diligence and industry were his watchwords. He was highly interested in all movements looking toward the elevation of the status of the agriculturist, and was one of the founders of the Morgan County Fair Association, the first agricultural society organized in the country. In the two associations which succeeded it he was an active and influential member. A stanch Republican, he filled those local offices which he felt it the duty of every good citizen to occupy, but never desired to enter the broad field of politics, except as a worker in the ranks of the party. Mr. Leach died January 2, 1893, and his demise was regarded as a distinct loss to the county.
On February 9, 1853, Mr. Leach was united in marriage with Mary Ann Beilby, who was born in Morgan County, June 29, 1835, a daughter of Samuel and Georgiana (Reid) Beilby, both natives of England. They first located on the island of Jamaica, West Indies, where Mr. Beilby had a coffee plantation near Kingston. About 1830 they came to Morgan County, Mr. Beilby conducting a store at Lynnville until his death in 1836. Mr. and Mrs. Leach were the parents of the following children: Georgiana, wife of William Coultas, born May 22, 1853, and died March 24, 1896; Eliza Ann, wife of Judson A. Boston, born March 3, 1855; Sarah Matilda, born February 2, 1857, died October 12, 1879; John William, born April 6, 1859; Thomas Edward, born March 19, 1861; Mary Etta, wife of Stephen S. Knoles, born June 14, 1863, died February 10, 1889; George Albert, born November 25, 1865; Hattie Belle, wife of Charles L. Reid, born April 30, 1868; Laura May, wife of Watson Leck, born June 14, 1871; Charles Franklin, who is a Director in the Ayers National Bank of Jacksonville, and variously interested in local affairs, born November 28, 1873; and Walter Leslie, born May 6, 1876.