Calhoun County

1891 Biography - Sarah Byrd

MRS. SARAH (HERRON) BYRD, widow of Ephraim Byrd, is a woman of superior energy and capability, and is among the most highly respected members of Gilead Precinct, Calhoun County. She owns and occupies one of the fine farms of this vicinity, and it may well be her pride that she has superintended much of its development and improvement, and that under her excellent management it has attained its present high standard.

Mrs. Byrd was born in Hamilton County, Ohio, February 13, 1837. Her father, William Herron, it is thought was born in Maryland, and removed thence to Ohio in an early day. He resided there until 1839, and then came to Illinois and located among the pioneers of Adams County. Six or eight years later he removed to Missouri, where he lived two years and at the expiration of that time he came back to this State and took up his residence in this county in Gilead Precinct where the remainder of his life was passed. He married Rachael Ackers, who was from the State of New York and died in this county.

Our subject was but two years old when she came to Illinois with her parents and remembers well the incidents of pioneer life. In her early recollection the county was sparsely settled, and deer, wild turkeys, wolves and panthers were numerous, and most of the people paid more or less attention to hunting. Her mother did all her cooking by the fireplace, and used to card and spin, and clothed her family in homespun garments. Mrs. Byrd learned the arts of housewifery and became accomplished in other household duties, so that she was well fitted to take charge of a home of her own when Ephraim Byrd solicited her hand in marriage.

Ephraim Byrd was a native of this county and was a son of one of its pioneers, John Byrd, who came here in an early day of the settlement of this region and located in Gilead Precinct, where he bought land, improved a farm and lived until death called him hence. The maiden name of his wife was Mary M. Crites. She spent her last years in this county also. Mr. Byrd was reared to agricultural pursuits, and at the time of his marriage located on the farm which Mrs. Byrd now owns and occupies. At that time it had been but partially redeemed from its wild condition, as only a few acres were cleared and a log cabin had been erected in which the newly wedded couple began housekeeping. He entered upon the pioneer task of further developing his farm, and was thus successfully engaged when death closed his busy career May 20, 1861. The township was thus deprived of a useful citizen, his neighbors of an obliging friend and his family of a kind husband and father.

By the untimely demise of her husband, Mrs. Byrd was left with the care of three small children, and with a partly improved farm on her hands. She was not a woman to sit idly down and helplessly bewail her condition, but with characteristic energy she set about the work before her, and under her superior management has placed her farm under fine tillage and substantial improvement. She has erected a neat and commodious set of frame buildings, and superintended the clearing of more land until she has a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, a part of which is rich bottom land and all capable of yielding large harvests. The following is recorded of her children, whom she has reared to useful lives and who are now valued members of the communities where they reside: John H., who lives on the home farm, married Maggie Surgeon; Mary married William Rose and lives in Crater Precinct. The great sorrow of the life of our subject has been in the death of her daughter Ella, who was the wife of William Wilkinson, and died December 8, 1885, at the home of our subject.

Extracted 16 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 508-509


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