Biography - Eugene Bland

EUGENE BLAND is a fine representative of the native-born sons of Shelby County, and also of the citizen-soldiers that she sent to the front during the great Civil War to defend the stars and stripes. The farm that he owns and occupies on section 23, Todd's Point Township, was the scene of his birth November 2, 1841. He is now one of the most extensive farmers in this section of Illinois, and a leading stock dealer, a business thai he has carried on with more than ordinary success for several years.

The father of our subject, Capt. Henry Bland, was a well-known pioneer of this county and a wealthy citizen, who materially aided in its up building. He was born in one of the early pioneer homes of Muskingum County, Ohio, and when only a boy of a few years he asserted his independence, and left the shelter of the parental roof to make his own way in the world. He was very ambitious and enterprising, full of push and energy, and in a few years he had risen to the command of a steamer plying on the Mississippi River. When St. Louis was but a small village, he bought a tract of land there, which he afterward exchanged for a boat load of honey, that he sold in New Orleans. For a time he was overseer on a plantation in Mississippi, but the Southern climate disagreed with his family and he concluded to locate in the North, and so came to this State and county. He was one of the early settlers of Todd's Point Township, where he bought a trait of land on section 23. He devoted himself to its improvement, and made it his home until death closed his busy career, and deprived the county of one of its most valued citizens. He had met with more than ordinary success from the financial point of view, and in the course of years had become a large real estate holder, owning extensive tracts of land in Shelby and Moultrie Counties. In early manhood he had married Elizabeth Dittenhauer, a native of Ohio. She survived him until 1875, when she too passed away, dying on the old homestead.

Our subject was reared in the home of his birth, receiving a careful training in all that goes to make a good citizen and a capable business man, and with the exception of the time that he devoted to his country's service in the army, he was with his parents until their death. He can remember when this section of the country was still in the hands of the pioneers, and presented a far different appearance from what it does to-day where many cultivated farms and thriving towns have taken the place of a sparsely settled, and but little developed wilderness. In his boyhood, deer, wild turkeys and other kinds of game were plentiful; there were no railways here, and the fanners had to go to St. Louis for the principal market. Our subject's education was conducted in the pioneer schools of other days, and the building in which he gained his knowledge of the "three Rs," was a log house, heated by a fireplace, and furnished with benches made of split logs, one side hewn smooth, and there were no desks or backs to the seats.

The breaking out of the war found our subject at work on his father's farm, but at the first call for troops he abandoned agricultural pursuits to offer his services to his country, though he had not then attained his majority. He enlisted with the Fourteenth Illinois Infantry for three months and in 1862 he re-enlisted as a member of the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Illinois Infantry. He served a few months, and was then discharged on account of disability. Notwithstanding all that he had suffered on Southern battlefields and on the long and tryings marches, his loyal spirit was undaunted, and as soon as he was able to endure the hardships of a soldier's life once more, he had his name placed on the roll of the Seventh Illinois Calvary, with which he remained until after the war was closed. He saw service in the States of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia, and in many a hard struggle with the enemy showed that he possessed all the requisites of a good soldier, and his military record does credit to the citizenship of his native Illinois. He was honorably discharged with his regiment at Nashville after peace was declared.

After his return from the seat of war Mr. Bland resumed farming, and also gave his attention to buying and shipping stock, in which line he has built up a large business, and is to-day one of the most extensive dealers in this part of the State. He now owns and occupies the old homestead, and this, with other land that he has bought at different times, makes him the possessor of upwards of eight hundred acres of valuable real-estate.

Mr. Bland was married in 1867 to .Miss Nancy E. Wright, a native of Todd's Point Township, and a daughter of William and Martha Wright, well-known pioneers of this county. Mrs. Bland is a member of the Christian Church. She possesses in a high degree those fine womanly traits of character that mark her as a true wife and devoted mother, who is willing to sacrifice self-interests to procure the peace and well-being of her household. Her marriage with our subject was brought then these eight children: Mattie, Ella, Ada, William, Belle, Arthur, Eugene and Ray.

Our subject's success in life was assured at the outset, not only from the fact that he came from a well-to-do family and did not have so many disadvantages to content against in his chosen career as many who have set their faces in the same direction, but he had fine natural endowments to aid him in achieving whatsoever he desired. as a gentleman of character, business acumen, and public-spirit that is manifested in his readiness to do all in his power to help forward any and all feasible plans for the good of the community at large, his name stands high in his country. In his political belief, he is a Republican sound and true.

The reader will be pleased to notice in this connection, the lithographic portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Bland.

Extracted 16 Feb 2019 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 603-606.

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