Jackson County
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Biography - Harvey Bilderback

HARVEY BILDERBACK, who resides on section 21, Kinkaid Township, Jackson County, where he successfully carries on agricultural pursuits, was born near Rockwood, Randolph County, March 9, 1826. He is a representative of one of the honored pioneer families of southern Illinois. His grandfather, John Bilderback, settled near Kaskaskia in a very early day and there spent the remainder of his life. His wife passed away in 1838. She was a remarkable woman, being six feet tall and very strong. In the family were the following children: James, Charles, Friend, Ephraim, William, Stewart, Henry, Thomas, John; Lydia, wife of Charles Garner; Gettie, wife of Harvey Clendennen; and Nancy, wife of Jacob Harmon.

James Bilderback, father of our subject, was a native of Kentucky, and during his boyhood accompanied the family to Illinois. He married Maria Clendennen, and in Randolph County followed farming until his death, in January, 1863. His wife died in May, 1876. The children were: Harvey; Henry, who was born in December, 1822, and died in Ava in 1889; Jane, wife of James Petitt, of California; Mary, who became the wife of John Hanna, and after his death wedded A. Goodman, of Ava; Nancy, deceased wife of Andrew Hanna; Lydia, wife of David Bean, of Kansas; Martha and Lorancy, both of whom died in childhood.

Mr. Bilderback of this sketch has always made his home in the state of his nativity. In the year in which he arrived at man's estate he was married, September 8, 1847, in Randolph County, to Martha Gray, daughter of John Gray, a native of Belfast, Ireland, who when three years old was taken by his parents to South Carolina. He wedded Mary Black, and they had a family of eleven children: Margaret, wife of Samuel Skelly; Isabel, wife of Miller Murphy; Elizabeth; Sarah, wife of Robert Linn; Mary, wife of Joseph Latimore; Alexander; Jane, wife of William Jeffry; William Thomas; and Adeline, wife of A. J. Cross. The parents of this family both died in July, 1848.

Mrs. Bilderback was born March 9, 1826. The young couple began their domestic life in Randolph County, but after six years came to Jackson County, locating in Kinkaid Township, where our subject and his brother Henry operated a sawmill. In those days the sawmills of the neighborhood furnished the lumber for all buildings. They also carried on a stave factory for a time. In the fall of 1867, they removed to the farm upon which Mr. Bilderback now resides, purchasing and improving seventy acres of land, and also there carrying on a sawmill for about five years. On the expiration of that period our subject purchased his brother's interest in the land and has since bought one hundred and sixty acres adjoining. His industrious labors have transformed this tract into one of the finest and most valuable tracts of the community.

To Mr. and Mrs. Bilderback was born a large family of children. Willis H., born November 20, 1848, wedded Mary Asbury, by whom he had one child, Nettie. After the death of his first wife he married Matilda Austin, and they have seven children, Ephraim, Hiram, Dell, Ernest, Murray, Martha and Minnie. James C., born January 15, 1851, died at the age of eighteen months. Maria, born January 25, 1853, became the wife of Samuel Wilson, and died February 5, 1876, leaving two children, Otis and Harvey. Mary J., born August 7, 1855, married W. L. Asbury, and died April 15, 1893. Three of their eight children are yet living, Lettie, Freddie and Aggie. H. Edwin, born May 10, 1857, died at the age of sixteen months. Gabriel J., born August 13, 1859, married Ann Bower, and they have four children, Hubert, Harvey, Mamie and Bessie. Nancy A., born September 1, 1861, married George Whitsen, by whom she had three children, May, Bell and Willie, deceased. She died in May, 1883. John W., born March 27, 1864, married Addie McCormick and they have two children, Claude and George. William A., born June 19, 1868, married Cora McCormick and had a daughter, Grace. His death occurred October 7, 1891.

For many years Mr. and Mrs. Bilderback have been members of the Presbyterian Church. In politics he is a Republican, having supported the party since its organization. He served as Collector for one terra. During the late war he manifested his loyalty to the Government by enlisting, August 20, 1862, in Company A, Eightieth Illinois Infantry, under Capt. Luther Mann and Col. Thomas Allen. On account of disability he was discharged in Louisville, Ky., in March, 1863. He has ever been a loyal citizen, prompt and faithful in the discharge of his duties, and in this volume he well deserves representation.

Extracted 26 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Biographical Review of Jackson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 612-613.


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