Putnam County


John Buchanan, a venerable citizen of eighty-three years, whose life record has won him the respect and admiration of his fellowmen, was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, February 23, 1823. He was reared in his native country, and having arrived at years of maturity was married there to Miss Ann Gallagher, a native of Ireland, who is now eighty years of age. They have traveled life's journey together for about six decades, sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, its adversity and prosperity.

Mr. Buchanan came to America in 1849, and here began work at the baker's trade in Philadelphia, where he remained until 1855, when he removed to Putnam county, where he has now made his home for over a half century. He first purchased twenty acres of land on section 31, Granville township, for which he paid fifteen dollars per acre. About four acres of this was cleared, while the remainder was covered with timber. He cut the trees and his wife assisted in sawing them with a cross-cut saw, after which he took the logs to the old Fennel sawmill, where he had them converted into boards. With these he built a board shanty, the boards being placed up and down after the most primitive methods of building. In this home they lived for twelve years, at the end of which time, having prospered in his undertakings, Mr. Buchanan was enabled to erect a comfortable frame residence on a tract of twenty acres adjoining his original purchase, and which he had added to his farm in the meantime. The sills in this house were hewed from trees cut on the farm and the lumber was hauled from Hennepin. This has been their home continuously since locating here in the woods, and they are among the few remaining pioneers of the township left to tell the story of the early days when Putnam county was a frontier district and the work of improvement and progress had scarcely been begun here. They have vivid recollections of the early times when deer were frequently seen and wild turkeys could be had in abundance. Not being accustomed to hunting, Mr. Buchanan never did any, but could have had ample opportunity to indulge in that sport had he so desired. He has seen many changes in the farms and the fields and has witnessed the passing of nearly all the old settlers who were here when he arrived. Squire Laughlin of Granville is the only one now living who was a resident of the village in 1855.

Since coming to the county Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan have remained continuously upon the farm where they first settled and which has therefore been their home for fifty-one years. Without desire to become wealthy, they have lived a happy life, prosecuting their labors so as to add to their home the comforts of life, yet not bending every energy to the acquirement of wealth, which so often precludes the opportunity of enjoying the blessings of the passing day. They now own eighty acres of good land and have substantial improvements upon it. The farm is in good shape and brings to them a competence sufficient to supply them with all of the necessities and some of the luxuries of life.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan have been born ten children. The two eldest were natives of Philadelphia and the first born died in that city in infancy, while James passed away at the age of six years. They also lost their youngest child in infancy, and Mrs. Isabella Sutcliffe, who was the ninth in order of birth and lived in Lostant, La Salle county, has also passed away. The surviving members of the family, in order of birth, are as follows: William John, who was born in Putnam county and is now living in Hancock county, Iowa; Joseph A., who resides in Wright county, Iowa ; George W., at home ; James T., who is also a resident of the Hawkeye state; Matilda J., the wife of Frank Olmstead, of La Salle, Illinois; and Margaret Ann, the wife of Richard Shepherd, who is living in Iowa.

The son, George W. Buchanan, has always made his home upon the old farm, of which he now has the management. He was educated in the common schools and was trained to the work of the fields. He is now caring for his aged parents and manages the home property, thus repaying his father and mother by his filial devotion for their love and attention to him in his youth. He has certainly followed the commandment given to the world ages ago to "honor thy father and thy mother." Moreover, he is a man of good business ability and unfaltering industry and perseverance, who in the management of the home property is producing good crops, for which he finds a ready sale upon the market. In community affairs he is interested and the cause of education has found in him a very warm friend. He is now serving as school director, and this term constitutes his twelfth year in that position, although his service has not been consecutive. The present controversy in the community and the attitude held by George W. Buchanan in regard to the building of a new schoolhouse speaks well for his devotion to the general good and certainly convinces one of the popularity and esteem in which he is held in his district. His political allegiance is given to the republican party and he is recognized as a leading representative in its local ranks. In all life's relations he commands the respect and confidence of those with whom business or social relations have brought him in contact.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan are members of the Congregational church. In earlier years they joined the Presbyterian church, but have since transferred their allegiance. In politics Mr. Buchanan has always been a republican, but has never aspired to office. Both he and his wife enjoy good health for people of their age and theirs has been a most interesting record. Coming to the new world empty-handed but hopeful and courageous, they started out to establish a home here, and as the years have passed have been enabled to enjoy the comforts of life and have reared a family who are a credit and honor to their name. No history of this community would be complete without mention of this worthy couple who have so long traveled life's journey together.

Source: Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois authored by John Spencer Burt and W. E. Hawthorne in 1907, page 248.

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