SARGENT, John Collens, (deceased, formerly a retired minister and farmer, of Markham, Morgan County, Ill., was born near that place June 22, 1828, the son of William Lamb and Melinda (Hughes) Sargent, the father and mother being natives of Kentucky. The parents moved to Morgan County in 1824, and the father first entered 160 acres of Government land, to which he added 80 acres, located five and a half miles west of Jacksonville. The family moved to Andrew County, Mo., in 1868, where the father died at the age of eighty-four years, the mother having passed away in Morgan County when about sixty-six years of age.
William L. Sargent was a prominent man in the communities in which he lived. Politically he was first a Jackson Democrat; then a Whig, and afterward a Republican. He served two terms in the State Senate, and was County Commissioner and Justice of the Peace. He was one of the principal founders of the Methodist Episcopal Church, organized in the schoolhouse, which afterward became the Zion Methodist Episcopal Church. In this he was a member of the first class, and held the offices of Steward and Trustee. During the Civil War he served on the Christian Commission for about six months, was captured by the Confederates near Nashville, Tenn., and was paroled and sent home. He had six sons in the Union Army, all of whom survived the war, viz.: John C., Charles A., William Smith, Thomas J., Henry and James, all being privates except John C. The period of their combined services was thirteen years. Their uncle, John Sargent, served in the Black Hawk War.
John C. Sargent made Morgan County his home, being reared on a farm and attending the subscription schools of his neighborhood. IN 1851 Mr. Sargent united with the Mount Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, near Markham, during a revival conducted by the pastor, Rev. C. W. Lewis, and he then formally dedicated himself to religious work. He studied for the ministry under the direction of his mother and James Dalton, a local church leader, and took a four years' conference course. He began preaching in 1854, in Morgan County, being received at the conference held at Hardin, and his first sermon delivered in Wesley Chapel, after which he did circuit and station work. In 1855-56 he was stationed over the church at Manchester; in 1857 was at New Hartford; in 1858-59 at Lynnville, and 1860-61 at Whitehall.
In 1862 Mr. Sargent enlisted in the Union Army, being elected First Lieutenant of Company G, Ninety-first Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry. A month later he was commissioned Chaplain of the regiment and served two years. He was in service at Shepherdsville and Elizabethtown, Ky., where he was captured by John Morgan, paroled and sent to Benton Barracks. On July 4, 1863, he went down the Mississippi and was six weeks in New Orleans and six months in Brownsville, Texas. Upon his return from army service, Mr. Sargent was stationed, as a minister at Payson, Adams County, Ill., remaining there during the balance of 1864 and the year 1865; for the next two years was pastor of the Fifth Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Quincy; was at Griggsville in 1869-70; 1871-74, at Hillsboro and Greenfield, and for the following three years conducted pastorates at Clayton and Mt. Sterling; 1878-81 had the West Jacksonville, North Jacksonville and South Jacksonville circuits; served the church at Chapin in 1882; from 1883 to 1895 bore a supernumerary relationship to the conference, and in 1896 was placed in the superannuated list. In 1848 Mr. Sargent first settled on the place upon which he spent the last years of his life, until about 1873, during his most active ministerial career, renting it to others, but afterward operating it himself. His death occurred on this farm in June, 1905.
On May 28, 1848, Mr. Sargent was married to Belinda Holliday, who was born here June 14, 1828, near the site of the County House. She is the daughter of James Holliday, who moved on the Sargent place in 1829. James Holliday was born in Yorkshire, England, between 1780 and 1790, and in 1821 settled in Indiana, where he remained three years. In 1824 he located in Morgan County, where he spent the remainder of his life, dying in 1855, as a lifelong farmer. He was the first Englishman to settle in Morgan County, and through correspondence induced many others to follow him. His wife was Eleanor Thompson, who made all the cloth and clothing for the family. At his death Mr. Sargent left a widow and three children (three having died young), as follows: John A., at home; George, Living at Springfield, Ill., freight agent for the Wabash Railroad; and W. T., a farmer. Mrs. Sargent's brother, Joseph, served in the Black Hawk War.
Politically, Mr. Sargent was a stanch Republican, but his life work in the ministry precluded activity in any but the field of religion. His funeral at the Centenary Church, Jacksonville, was largely attended, and in his death it was universally felt that the community had lost an earnest Christian friend, and the Methodist Church one of its most faithful and efficient workers.