Calhoun County

1891 Biography - Stephen McDonald

STEPHEN McDONALD, Probate Judge of Calhoun County, was born on the farm he now occupies near Hardin, November 21, 1845. He is the son of a refined and honorable couple who were well educated for their day, and whose aim it was to bestow upon their children the most careful home training and best educational advantages which the increasing facilities of the countrv would allow. Growing to manhood under such favorable auspices, our subject became a thoroughly educated man and one of unbounded energy and good principles. He has won a high degree of worldly success in the accumulation of a fine property and a share in public honors during an extended period. His public record is unimpeachable and his private character without a stain.

John McDonald, the father of our subject, was born in Pennsylvania, and in that State grew to manhood. He came thence to the Prairie State, made his home for a time in Shawneetown, then took up his abode in this county among its early settlers. He lived for a time in Gilead Precinct, but later removed to Hardin Precinct, buying a tract of timber land on section 23. He was one of the pioneer teachers of this county, and also one of its first Sheriffs, serving in the shrievalty three terms. He likewise served the people of this section as a member of the Legislature. He died in 1847, leaving a widow and seven children, the latter named respectively: Mary, John, James, Ferdinand, Charles, Annie and Stephen. The mother bore the maiden name of Nancy Red. She was born in Pennsylvania, and died on the home farm in 1883.

Our subject was but two years old when his father died, but he remained with his mother on the homestead, attending the district schools until he was eighteen years old. He then entered Notre Dame University at South Bend, Ind., pursued his studies there a year and then taught several terms of school. With that exception and the time devoted to his official duties, he has been engaged in agricultural pursuits. He now owns fifteen hundred acres of land, the greater part in Calhoun County. He has an orchard of sixty acres, over one-half of which is devoted to Ben Davis apples, and the rest to many different varieties. The buildings upon the home farm are substantial, commodious, and conveniently arranged, and every effort is made to enhance the comfort of the occupants and secure the proper care for stock and crops. Elsewhere in this volume will be noticed a view of the residence of Judge McDonald with its rural surroundings.

In 1872 Judge McDonald led to the hymeneal altar Miss Elizabeth McGinnis, daughter of John and Bridget McGinnis, natives of Ireland. Mrs. McDonald was born in St. Louis, Mo., is well informed, agreeable in manners and efficient in household affairs. She has borne her husband nine children, named respectively: Francis, Edward, James (deceased), Clarence, Clara, Annie, John, Leo and Charles. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald belong to St. Norbert's Church in Hardin. Mr. McDonald is a Democrat. He was elected Circuit Clerk in 1872, served in that capacity two terms and in the fall of 1880 became Judge. He has held his place upon the Bench ten years and the people in general are well satisfied with his rulings.

Extracted 16 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 472-475

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