Calhoun County

1891 Biography - John McDonald

HON. JOHN McDONALD, whose portrait is presented on the opposite page, was born in Gilead Precinct, Calhoun County, February 10, 1832, and consequently is one of the oldest native-born citizens of this section. His father, John McDonald, was a native of Chambersburg, Pa., his birth taking place in April, 1797. The grandfather of our subject, Edward McDonald, was a native of Ireland, and so far as known is the only member of his family who came to America and made a permanent settlement. He located in Chambersburg and there lived till his death. The maiden name of his wife was Mary Campbell, who was also born in the Emerald Isle of Scotch ancestry. They reared a family of seven children, as follows: Patrick, Perrin, John, James, Edward, Mary and Maria.

John, the father of our subject, was educated by an uncle, into whose store he was afterward taken as book-keeper, retaining the position till 1825, when he resolved to try his fortune in the far West. His first location was made in Wayne County, this State, where he spent some time in teaching and clerking. He then removed to the vicinity of Galena and was employed in the lead mines for eighteen months. In 1829 he came to Calhoun County, settling in Point Precinct, where he taught one term of school. Removing from there to Gilead, he spent his time in teaching and clerking till 1837, when he purchased a tract of timber land on section 23, now included in Hardin Precinct. There was a log cabin on the place, into which the family removed, and there the father resided till his death in July, 1846. In politics he was a Democrat, and served as Sheriff from 1836 to 1840. He was elected to the Slate Legislature three times in succession and was a member of that body at the time of his death. He had also creditably filled the offices of County Commissioner, Assessor and Treasurer of Calhoun County, and was widely-known and highly respected.

The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Ann Red. She was born in Pennsylvania; her father, Daniel Red, who was a native of Ireland, having come to America with his father at the age of seventeen years. Daniel Red settled in Pennsylvania and farmed there for a while, removing to Wayne County. Ill., at an early day, where he engaged in the mercantile business and also carried on farming. After a few years he went to Calhoun County, settling in Point Precinct, where he purchased land and improved a farm, and on this place he died. The maiden name of his wife was Mary Welch, and she was born in the Keystone State, and spent her last years in Point Precinct. The mother of our subject died on the home farm in 1884. They reared a family of six children, named respectively: Mary, John. .James, Charles, Ann and Stephen.

John McDonald, our subject, was reared and educated in his native county, where he attended the pioneer schools held in the rude log schoolhouses, so often described in the history of those early times. His home surroundings were of the same primitive nature, his mother, like all the housewives of those days, carding and spinning the flax and wool, from which she manufactured the family wardrobes, and doing her cooking by the open fireplace. Her first stove was purchased in 1845, and doubtless its arrival was an event of great importance.

At the death of his father our subject became the head of the family, and has ever since managed the estate. He now owns upward of fifteen hundred acres, all in Calhoun County. The home farm comprises one hundred and eighty acres of land, the greater part of which is in the Illinois River bottoms; fifty acres of this property is in orchard. A view of his pleasant home appears elsewhere in this volume. Mr. McDonald is a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, and in politics is a Democrat. His popularity in this section of the country is evinced by the fact that he has been twice chosen to represent it in the State Legislature, his second election taking place in the fall of 1888. He is a highly respected citizen, with whom no fault can be found, except that he prefers a life of single blessedness to that of the married state.

Extracted 24 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 264-266 and 733.

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