Putnam County


a retired farmer, residing in Princeton, is a native of Illinois, born in Bond county, October 6, 1824. His father, Samuel Davis Laughlin, was a native of South Carolina, who left that state with his parents in 1807. There were three families, those of Rev. James Gilliland, a Presbyterian minister; Willis Warnocks and the Laughlins, all leaving South Carolina at the same time on account of slavery, and all locating in Brown county, Ohio. While still residing in that county, where his youth and early manhood were spent, Samuel D. Laughlin married Miss Rebecca Dunlavey, and in 1820 emigrated to Bond county, Illinois.

Samuel D. Laughlin in early life learned the blacksmith trade, and became an expert. In after years, while not working regularly at his trade, he was often called upon to assist or complete some job requiring extra skill. On his removal to Bond county, Illinois, he entered a claim for one hundred and sixtv acres of land. In 1827 he laid claim to a tract of land in what is now Putnam county, being attracted thereto by the settlement in that county of James Willis, who was its first settler, and who likewise came from South Carolina. The Warnocks also came from Ohio, and settled near Union Grove, where a church was erected and presided over by Rev. Mr. McDonald. This building was also used for a school house.

While the elder Laughhn located his claim in 1827, he did not make Putnam county his permanent home until 1830. His claim was near the present village of Florid, where he developed a fine farm of about four hundred acres, which was his home during the remainder of his life. He died in 1849, at the age of fifty-two years. His wife died on the same farm at the age of fifty years. He was a leading member in the Presbyterian church at Union Grove, though quite liberal in his religious views. For many years he served as justice of the peace, and was known far and near as Squire Laughlin.

The anti-slavery views of the father were instilled into the heart of the son, and Samuel D. Laughlin was a well known abolitionist. In 1830, when he removed from Bond county, he brought with him an escaped slave named George, concealing him for days in his wagon. His home in Union Grove was a well known station on the underground railroad, and he was a conductor on that celebrated line. By his guiding hand many colored men and women were assisted on their wa) to a free land, amid their hearty "God bless you."

To Samuel D. and Rebecca Laughlin a family of four sons and four daughters were born, as follows: Keziah Jane, who married Larned Davis, lived for some years at Mount Palatine, and is now a widow residing at Hennepin; John Wilson, who was a blacksmith and farmer in Putnam county, removed to Sumner county, Kansas, in 1885, and died there four years later; Mary Amanda married Harvey B. Leeper, and they now reside in Princeton; James Gilliland, our subject, is next in order of birth; William Martin, who is a justice of the peace, now resides in Granville township, Putnam county; Sarah Ann, who married William McCord, died at Onarga, Illinois, in 1884; Addison Dunlavey, who was for years a teacher and justice of the peace, now resides in Kewaunee, Kewaunee county, Wisconsin, and Emma Caroline, died at the age of eighteen.

After the death of the parents the family scattered, each doing as he or she thought best. Our subject remained at home until that time, when he, too, began life for himself. He learned the blacksmith's trade, but engaged principally in farming until 1862, when, in company with his brother John, he established at Mt. Palatine, Putnam county, a blacksmith and wagon shop. They did a general repairing business in connection and built up quite an extensive trade. The partnership continued for eight years, when he sold out and resumed farming at Mt. Palatine, where he owned one hundred and sixty acres of land. He continued thus actively engaged in general farming and stock-raising until 1885, when he removed to Princeton and has since lived a retired life.

On the 28th of November, 1850, Mr. Laughlin was united in marriage with Miss Julia Smith, a daughter of Beriah Hartshorn and Philena (Morton) Smith. She was born in Mohawk, Herkimer county, New York, in 1829, and came with her parents to Putnam county, in 1847. Her father was a native of Connecticut, but of English origin, the first of the family coming to America before the year 1700. His grandfather died a French prisoner in the French and Indian wars. Philena Morton was a native of Massachusetts, also of English origin. Both parents are now deceased, her mother dying in Nebraska at the age of seventy-seven years, and her father in Princeton, at the age of eighty-six:

Nine children came to bless the union of Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin — Marian Eliza, who died in 1894, was a woman of strong will and determination, having in 1887 located a claim in Colorado, on which she remained to prove up. She died at Wyanet while she was keeping house for her brother in 1894. Charles Emmet also resides in Iowa; Nettie is now the wife of James McNabb of Putnam county; John Baird is a railroad agent at Franklin, Idaho; James Adelbert is a farmer of Wyanet township, Bureau county; Jennie is the wife of Fred Lauder of the Chicago stock yards; Frederick married Rosa Pryor and resides on a farm in Wyanet township; Howard, engaged in the laundry business in Princeton; Mabel, died at the age of two years; Amanda, an adopted child, is the wife of Clay Barr, of Holdredge, Nebraska. She was reared in the family from the age of six years, took the name of Laughlin, and had the same advantages as the other children.

Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin now reside in a neat and comfortable house on West South street. Since coming to Princeton he invested in a farm in Wyanet township, now occupied by his son Fred. Both he and his wife are members of the Congregational church. In the church and temperance work she takes an active interest, being a worker in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Politically, Mr. Laughlin is a republican, as are each, of his five sons. For some years he served as justice of the peace at Mt. Palatine, an office which was filled by his father and all of his brothers. He has frequently been a delegate to the various conventions of his party and has always worked in the ranks. With his wife he has taken many tours for pleasure, and together they visited the Centennial, the Columbian exposition and the Atlanta exposition. They beheve in enjoying this life and do enjoy it to the fullest extent.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 300.

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