Biography - John R. Craig

JOHN R. CRAIG, Justice of the Peace of Shelbyville, is well and favorably known throughout Shelby County, of which he has been a resident these many years. A native of Campbell County, Ky., he was born in one of its pioneer homes December 11, 1817. His father, James Craig, was a Pennsylvanian by birth and a son of Robert Craig, a native of Scotland, who came to America when a young man and located in Pennsylvania, where he carried on farming. He was married in that State, and subsequently removed to the wilds of Kentucky, going thither on the Ohio River. For a time he lived in Campbell County, and then became an early settler of Boone County, where he bought a tract of timber, which he cleared and developed into a farm, his homestead being located near the village of Burlington, and there he spent his declining years.

The father of our subject was reared in his early Kentucky home, and in that State sought and found a wife in the person of Mary Barrickman, who was also a native of that part of the country, and was a daughter of Jacob Barrickman, a pioneer of that region. Mr. Craig resided in Campbell County until 1818 or 1819, and then he too became a pioneer of a new State, removing to Indiana, and settling in the primeval wilds of Fayette County on a tract of heavily timbered land six miles south of the county seat. His first work was to build a log house to shelter his family, and he then entered upon the hard task before him of clearing his land and preparing it for cultivation. At that time timber was of but little value, the principal object of the pioneers being to get it out of the way, and large logs were rolled together and burned, which to-day would command a good price in the lumber markets. The country round about was but thinly inhabited, there were no railways, and Cincinnati was the nearest market where the settlers could sell their produce and obtain needed supplies, though it was then but a small city.

Our subject's father lived in Indiana until 1839, when he came to Illinois, bringing with him his wife and seven children, the removal being made with teams, six horses being attached to a wagon, in which the household goods were conveyed, and the family camped at noon and nightfall to rest and cook their meals. Mr. Craig secured a suitable location in what is now Ridge Township, where he entered Government land, also buying some that had been previously entered by another man, and he and his family proceeded to occupy the set of log buildings that stood on the place. In that home he dwelt until death cut short his busy career in 1842, thus depriving the county of a useful and respected pioneer, who was doing his share in developing its agriculture. His wife, who survived him a number of years, also died on the home farm.

The subject of this biography was very young when his parents went to Indiana to live, and there under the invigorating influences of pioneer life he grew to a strong, self-reliant manhood. In 1841 he came to Shelby County and cast in his lot with the settlers of this region that had preceded him. They were few in numbers, and the country was still such as the Indians had left it, the land being mostly owned by the Government, and since sold at $1.25 an acre, or less. Our subject made his home on his parents' farm remaining with his mother until his marriage, after which event he continued to occupy a part of the old homestead until 1847. In that year he went to Iowa, going thither with a team, and became an early settler of Davis County, locating in Bloomfield, where he bought a residence, and was engaged as a clerk for several years. In 1848 he returned in Shelby County and devoted himself to farming until he was elected to the position of Deputy Sheriff in 1870, when be removed to Shelbyville to assume the duties of his office, of which he was an incumbent six years. He was then elected to his present office of Justice of the Peace. During the several years that he has held this important position he has shown himself to be well qualified for it, and has given satisfaction to all concerned, as he is wise, shrewd and fair-minded. In his social relations he is a member in high standing of Okaw Lodge, No. 117, I. O. O. F.

Mr. Craig was first married in 1842 to Miss Elizabeth Boulton, a native of Indiana. Their wedded life was brought to a close in 1844 by the death of the young wife. She left two children, James and Mary J. The second marriage of our subject, which took place in Iowa in 1850, was with Miss Sarah Hill, a native of Ohio, and a daughter of Jesse Hill. This lady passed from earth August 13, 1891. Six children blessed their union, namely: Mary, Allie, John, Kate and Addie twins, and Lillie.

Extracted 13 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 455-456.

Templates in Time