JOHN SIDWELL. He whose name heads this sketch is one of the pioneers of Farmer's Ridge, Calhoun County, and has been largely instrumental in advancing the interests of this county. His birth occurred in Bourbon County, Ky., March 20, 1813, and he is the son of John and Drusilla (Morris) Sidwell, who were also natives of the Blue Grass State. They were the parents of a number of children of whom only three are living at the present writing: viz., John, our subject; Polly, the widow of John McConnell, of Belleview Precinct, and Elisha. Our subject accompanied his parents to Pike County, Mo., when nine or ten years of age and in that county his mother passed to her final resting place. He followed shoemaking as a trade after attaining man's estate but in a short time turned his attention to the cooper business for a while and then took up farming as his occupation for the remainder of his life. He received no educational training so far as schools are concerned, never having attended school in his life, but in after years when he had taken up the burden of life in reality he learned to read, write and attend most successfully to his business affairs and has thus educated himself in all important matters.
Mr. Sidwell was married in the State of Missouri in the year 1841, the lady with whom he united his destiny being Miss Sarah McConnell. Their marriage was blessed with seven children, six of whom are now living, viz: Nancy, the wife of William Buchanan; Mary, the widow of Dr. Joseph Harvey; Julia, wife of Joseph Harrison; William (deceased); Rebecca, wife of Frank Ruyle; Samuel, and Martin, wife of Julius Mottaz, of Hardin, Ill. The second wife of our subject was prior to her marriage with him Mrs. Sarah McLaughlin, and of this union were born four children, three of whom survive, namely: Ida, wife of William Jennings; Charles and Albert; Luanna is deceased.
The lady with whom Mr. Sidwell was united in marriage September 21, 1880, bore the maiden name of Sarah Hayes and was born in Pike County, Ill., March 24, 1836, to Robert and Margaret (Stark) Hayes. Mr. Hayes is deceased, and his wife makes her home in Greene County. Mr. and Mrs. Hayes removed to Pike County about 1830 from Missouri and were numbered among the pioneers of this part of Illinois. The father died in Greene County, Ill., in December, 1888. To him and his estimable wife were born nine children, six of whom are now living and named as follows: Elizabeth, widow of Samuel Bowman, of Greene County, Ill., Matilda, wife of Lawrence Bowman, of Greene County, Ill.; Hulda, wife of Joseph J. Adkins, of Calhoun County; Sarah, wife of our subject; James, the present Superintendent of the Poor Farm in Pike County, Ill., and Mattie, wife of J. Q. Adams, of Carroll County, Mo.
Our subject in the latter part of the '40s moved to Calhoun County and for several years after his arrival rented land, later settling in Farmer's Ridge and ranking among the earliest settlers of that place. He settled in what was scarcely more than a wilderness and was forced to undergo all the hardships and deprivations incident to pioneer life. However, his energy and perseverance have been excellently rewarded and he is to-day the fortunate owner of between twelve hundred and thirteen hundred acres of highly cultivated land in Pike and Calhoun Counties. He merits great praise for the steadfastness of purpose that has enabled him to grapple with and overcome adverse circumstances. He commenced life empty-handed, as it were, having only his industrious spirit and strict integrity to assist him in climbing the ladder of fortune. He is a justly popular man and has filled many important local offices, having served as School Director and Deputy Constable at different times. “Uncle Jack," as he is familiarly called by his many friends, is a public-spirited citizen, a staunch Democrat and true to his party principles in every respect. He is at the present writing surrounded by all the comforts of life, and happy in the love of wife, children and friends is enjoying the autumn of life as only those can enjoy it who have labored faithfully in the springtime of youth.
Elsewhere in this volume the reader will notice a view of the finely improved homestead of Mr. Sidwell.
Extracted 16 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 540-542
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