Jackson County

Biography - John A. McNerney

JOHN A. McNERNEY, who follows farming on section 3, Vergennes Township. Jackson County, was born in Dublin, Ireland, May 19, 1837, and is a son of Joshua McNerney, who was an officer in Dublin Castle, and held that position until his death, in 1868. He was married in Dublin to Margaret Welch, and to them were born the following children: Joshua, John; Annie, wife of Peter Mernah, who was a Union soldier, and was killed at Norfolk, Va.; Margaret, deceased; Mary, who died at the age of seventeen, and Thomas, who is an actor,

Mr. McNerney of this sketch crossed the Atlantic in 1848, and for a time lived in Rondout, N. Y., on the Hudson, and attended school in New York City at night. During his youth he engaged in selling "Thompson's Bank Note Reporter," and in 1851 was thus employed in New York City, where he frequently saw Horace Greeley. He also there heard one of the famous speeches of Daniel Webster. He there lived when Kossuth came to this country, and saw the welcome extended the patriot defender of Poland. In 1856 Mr. McNerney went to Stephenson, near Frederickstown, Me., and from there to St. John, New Brunswick, whence he sailed for Liverpool, England. After visiting his parents for a year, he returned to America in 1857, at the time the bread riots were occurring in New York.

In 1858 our subject emigrated to Rock Island County, Ill., and there heard an address by Abraham Lincoln. The following winter was spent in New Orleans, and in May he went to St. Louis, but after a month made his way to Cairo, Ill., which then contained only a few houses in the midst of a swamp. Going to Pulaski, he worked in a sawmill for a month, after which he came to Vergennes Township, Jackson County, where he was employed as a farm hand by E. T. Ross. In 1861, he enlisted for the late war, in Company B, Seventh Illinois Infantry, which was the first regiment that left the state. After being discharged on account of physical disability, he served as ward master of the hospital in Mound City. He received a letter signed by the surgeons and officers of the hospital, expressing their warm regard for him and their regret at his removal from that post. He also served a year as watchman in the commissary department at Cairo, was in the quartermaster's department at Benton Barracks, St. Louis, and there remained for six months, when he was taken ill, and in 1864 resigned. On his return to Vergennes Township, he took up farming, which he now follows.

On the 27th of December, 1862, Mr. McNerney married Sarah J. Porter, who was born in Gallia County, Ohio, January 31, 1837. Her father, Russell Sumner Porter, was born in Ohio, October 12, 1802, and emigrated to Du Quoin, Ill., in 1844. Three years later he came to Jackson County and improved a farm, upon which he resided until his death, May 15, 1871. His wife bore the maiden name of Dorothy Burnham, and was born April 20, 1802. At the age of sixteen she came with the family to Illinois, and was married in 1825. Their children are, Benjamin, born February 11, 1826; Eliphaz, September 4, 1827; John B., August 4, 1829; Solomon A., April 7, 1833; Lauren R., December 11, 1834; Sarah J., January 31, 1837; Phoebe K., January 17, 1839, and Hiram H., March 19, 1843. The mother of this family died June 12, 1877. Mr. and Mrs. J. A. McNerney became the parents of five children. Margaret D., born April 9, 1864, was married July 29, 1888, to T. C. Hughey, who lives in Champaign, Ill., and has two children, Genevieve, born November 28, 1890, and Mildred, July 10, 1892. Wilbur, who was born January 25, 1866, died August 23, 1868; Phoebe J. was born July 28, 1870; and Eleanor, August 23, 1873. Jackson A., born November 30, 1877, died March 21, 1879.

In 1880 Mr. McNerney purchased the old family homestead of the Porters, and has since resided thereon. He is a member of Du Quoin Post No. 106, G. A. R., and is a Royal Arch Mason. In politics he has always been a stanch Republican, and has held all of the township offices with the exception of Supervisor. He is now acceptably serving as Justice of the Peace. He was also Postmaster at Vergennes for some time, and was instrumental in establishing the office at this place. He received a commission from Walter Q. Gresham when he was Postmaster-General. He aided in procuring postal service on the railroad through this locality, and in recognition of his service the company gave him a two years' pass over their road. He has visited nearly all of the principal cities of this country, but has now settled down to quiet life, and is a respected and honored citizen, who is enjoying the rest which he has so truly earned.

Extracted 01 Aug 2020 by Norma Hass from 1894 Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry, and Monroe Counties, Illinois, pages 694-695.

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