REXROAT, JOHN GARRETT, retired farmer, residing at Jacksonville, Ill., is a descendant of one of the old and honored families of Morgan County. He is a son of Zachariah and Sarah (Bristow) Rexroat, and was born on his father's farm near Arcadia, Morgan County, February 6, 1838. His father, a native of Kentucky, migrated from Adair County, that State, to Morgan County during the spring of 1831, following the winter of the deep snow. He entered Government land northwest of the site of the present village of Arcadia, to which he added by purchase from time to time until he became one of the most extensive landholders and successful farmers in this section of the State. His property at its maximum aggregated about 1,900 acres, most of which was very fertile and easily cultivable, and he was acknowledged to be one of the most expert judges of land values in Southern Illinois. He was a man of sagacity and forethought, shrewd in his estimate of human character, and always alive to the worthiness of any project connected with agriculture in its various branches. The older residents of the county remember him as a useful, high-minded citizen who, though leading an active and very busy life, never refused to lend a helping hand toward the advancement of the welfare of the community. His death occurred on his farm in 1887. His wife Sarah Bristow, who came to Illinois about 1825 and died in 1893, was a daughter of Thomas Bristow, of Irish ancestry, whose parents emigrated to America in childhood. Thomas Bristow became an honored pioneer of Morgan County, migrating from North Carolina about 1825, locating near Jacksonville, Ill., and afterward purchasing a farm east of Arcadia. This he sold upon his removal to Texas, where he died. 'Squire Bristow, as he was always known, was the first citizen of Morgan County to be elected to the office of Justice of the Peace, his election having occurred when he was still a very young man. He was a resident of the county when Illinois decided against slavery, to which he personally was strongly opposed.
John Garrett Rexroat received a comparatively limited education in the subscription schools of his neighborhood, his attendance thereupon being confined chiefly to the winter months, as his father required his services upon the farm during the period from early spring until late fall. The work demanded of him was laborious, though his father was no more severe as a taskmaster than most men of that pioneer period who were compelled to be; but the lessons of hard work and self-denial which he had learned upon the farm molded the strong character inherited from his ancestors, and equipped him most satisfactorily for the battle of life. Two days before reaching his majority, he commenced an independent career; began farming at twenty-two and stock raising at twenty-three years of age. He devoted the most active years of his life to agriculture, in which he was eminently successful. Stock-raising and trading were avocations to which he devoted considerable attention. About 1890 he relinquished his active labors upon the farm and removed to Jacksonville, where he has since resided in retirement, although for about ten years prior to his permanent removal to the city it had been his custom to reside in town during the winter months. He has identified himself with the financial institutions of Illinois to an extent seldom seen among those who have made farming their life work. He is a stockholder in the Farmers' National Bank, of Virginia, Ill. (Of which he has been a Director about nineteen years), the Centennial National Bank of Virginia and the Jacksonville National Bank, and is a Director in the Centennial Bank; also a stockholder in the Illinois Telephone Company of Jacksonville. He is known as one of the most wealthy and representative agriculturists and stock-raisers in this section of the State, as well as one of the most extensive landholders in Morgan County, owning over 900 acres of fertile and tillable land in Morgan and Cass Counties. In addition to being prominent in these interests, he deals in stocks and loans money.
October 11, 1860, Mr. Rexroat was united in marriage with Sarah Ann, daughter of George and Sarah (Pence) Roberts. They have been the parents of five children: George Washington, a grocer in Virginia, Ill.; Zachariah L., who resides on the old home place in Cass County; Mary Eliza, wife of Carl B. Frankenberg, of Jacksonville; John Craig, now a resident of Cass County, Ill., and Austin, who died at the age of two years. By those who have known Mr. Rexroat best during the long years of his residence in his native country, he is highly esteemed for his integrity, his public spirit and those other traits usually pertaining to a man whose life has been of use to the community, as well as to himself and his immediate family. He has always cheerfully cooperated with his fellow men in the advancement of worthy causes, and his name will be indelibly associated with the progress of Morgan County.