SHEPPARD, Joseph Johnson, retired farmer of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill., was born in Adair County, Ky., near Jimtown, September 10, 1827. His ancestors were of Scotch and Irish origin. He is a son of Thornton and Elender (Hopper) Sheppard, the former born in North Carolina, and the latter a native of Kentucky. The father moved to Kentucky and thence, late in 1830, about the time of the "Deep Snow" came to Morgan County. In the spring of 1831 he built a small house on the north fork of Mauvaisterre Creek, and later bought a little place near his present home. The house without a nail and had clapboard doors and frame. Afterward he built a hewed log house. His first purchase of land (40 acres) was made from Levi Buchanan, for which he gave two yoke of oxen and a wagon. But 10 acres of the land were broken, although it was all of good quality.
Thornton Sheppard preached in the Primitive Baptist Church for forty-nine years. In Illinois he ministered to four churches, walking twenty miles in order to cover his pastoral territory and receiving no pay for preaching or attendance. He did the same work in what are now Cass and Greene Counties, and at the Pisgah Sulphur Springs Baptist Church, in Morgan County, of which the family are still members. He died in his eightieth year, and four years after his decease, his widow, also in her eightieth year, passed away. He carried on farming industriously, sought no official honors, and in the church was a peacemaker. He and his wife reared eleven children, of whom but three sons and two daughters are living.
Joseph J. Sheppard has resided in Jacksonville since the fall of 1830. He remained with his parents until he was twenty-seven years old. His mental training in the country subscription schools was limited by reason of his father's lack of means, but the discipline in business matters which he received proved useful to him in after years, and he assisted the other children of the family.
On June 20, 1854, Mr. Sheppard was married to Mary Elizabeth Coffman, a native of Virginia, and a daughter of Abram Coffman, who came to Morgan County with her parents in 1852 or 1853. The favored couple celebrated their golden wedding in 1904, twelve children having been born to them as follows: Emma Jane, who died in infancy; George W., who is at home; John S., of Jacksonville; Irvin Dunlap, of Morgan County; Alice, deceased; Sylvester, of Morgan County; Emily R., the wife of Henry Paul, Jr., of Carlinville, Ill.; Clara, who is at home; McClellan, of Morgan County; Luther; Lucy, wife of J. Henry Scott; and Ulysses, deceased.
When Mr. Sheppard came to Morgan County deer were abundant. The snow was shoulder deep. There were no neighbors nearer than several miles. From this humble condition and these discouraging surroundings, a clear head, stout heart and diligent hands have lifted Mr. Sheppard into the ownership of 2,100 acres of excellent farming land, and he has the best reasons to be proud of the results of his labors, which he is now enjoying in contented retirement. Politically, he has always been identified with the Democratic party, although in local affairs he takes an independent course. He served as School Director for twenty-five years. In religious views, he is a Christian, but is not connected with any church.