Biography - William Potter

WILLIAM POTTER. The name at the head of this sketch is that of a successful farmer whose residence in this State extends over more than forty years, during which time he has seen as great changes in commercial life and the manner of living in all classes of society, as when we were children, we read in Arabian Nights, were accomplished by Aladdin's lamp. In his boyhood days, electricity was a divine agent to be handled gingerly by the scientist. Today it is the servant that drags our cars, lights our houses, supplies our heat, washes our clothes, and does a thousand and one other things, that, had they been so accomplished a half century ago, would have been considered the work of the Angel of Darkness.

Our subject who was born in Preble County, Ohio, November 20, 1825. He is a son of Samuel and Mary (Leathers) Potter, natives of Virginia and Ohio, respectively. Our subject's residence in Shelby County dates from 1850. His home is located on section 9 of Rural Township. The father of our subject was born in Virginia and when a small boy he removed to Ohio with his parents, that was in the year 1808 and they then settled in Preble County. At that time settlers were very few, and they experienced all the hardships of pioneer life. They cleared a farm in the forests, and gradually put upon it many improvements. The grandparents of our subject there died, and his father was there married, he also, clearing a farm in the timber region upon which he resided until his death.

William Potter is one of eight children who were born to his parents. Six only, however, lived to he grown, William, our subject being the eldest. He was reared on the home farm and attended such school as the country afforded. He resided there until 1850, when he came to Illinois and purchased one hundred and forty-seven acres of land which was then in a raw state, being unturned prairie. This he improved and sold and then purchased his present farm, which was at that time also new and uncultivated. He owns two hundred and ten acres of land, all of which is under cultivation. His place boasts a good class of buildings, his residence being such as to add to the comfort and content of domestic life.

Mr. Potter has been twice married. In 1848 he was united to Sarah Kimmel, who was born in Preble County, Ohio. She was a daughter of Jacob Kimmel, but died in Shelby County soon after coming to this State, leaving to her husband one son, Emanuel, who lives in Rural Township. In 1859, our subject married Mrs. Sarah Lanham, nee Barrett. She was a daughter of Marcus L. Barrett and was born in West Virginia. By her marriage with Mr. Lanham, she became the mother of one child, Augustus F. who presides in Rural Township.

Six little ones have gathered about the table and tilled the house with their merry prattle. These are growing up and promise to be men and women of whom their parents will be proud. Their names are Marcus L., Elsie, May, Adalia, Emma and Elmer. Politically our subject is a Republican. In their church relations they are connected with the Presbyterian denomination, of which body Mr. Potter is a Deacon of the church that he attends. It is not out of place here to give a short sketch of our subject's parents and grandparents, additional to the mere mention made above. Jasper Potter, his grandfather, was one of a large family and was left an orphan at an early age. They were bound over to different families and in this way became scattered. Jasper was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and witnessed the surrender of Cornwallis and the troops at Yorktown. He attained seventy-two years of age, and died in Preble County, Ohio. His native State was Maryland. Twice married, by his first marriage he was the father of thirteen children, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood and reared families of their own. By his second marriage, three children were born.

Our subject's parents had nine children, of whom seven lived to be grown: William, Minerva, Barbara, Elizabeth, Emanuel, Jane and Zion. Minerva is now Mrs. Simpson. Barbara was the wife of Dr. Robert Toby, and is now deceased. Elizabeth, is the wife of Thaddeus Sibbitt. Jane, who is also deceased, was the wife of Thomas Bunch. Zion married Peter Kimmell.

Extracted 26 May 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 520-521.

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