Among the pioneer settlers of Putnam county, the Leech family is especially worthy of notice in a work of this kind, as its members have long been prominently identified with its interests. John Leech, the father, was born and reared in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and when a young man removed to Jefferson county, Ohio. He was well educated, having attended Jefferson college, now Washington and Jefferson college at Cannonsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In Jefferson county, Ohio, John Leech married Miss Mary Parr, of Scotch-Irish descent, born in the north of Ireland. When a child she became a resident of Jefferson county, where their marriage was celebrated in 1811, and there nine children were born to them. It was in May, 1832, that they landed at Peoria, Illinois, having come by way of the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers, and there the father purchased eighty acres of land, which now lies within the city limits. As his family were in poor health at that place, in April, 1833, he removed to the farm near Florid, still owned and occupied by members of the family. He secured three hundred and twenty acres at the government price of one dollar and a quarter per acre. A small cabin had been erected by the party who laid claim to the tract and he added another log cabin, but later built a frame house after a mill was started in the vicinity. He also became the owner of other tracts of good land in Putnam, Warren and Pike counties. His death occurred on the home farm here in 1839, at the age of sixty-six years.
In the family were nine children who grew to maturity, namely: James, who married Electa Hawks, and died in 1852, leaving a widow and seven children, the widow also now being deceased; Robert, born May 18, 1814, died August 4, 1895, at the age of eighty-one years; Jane married Lucian Livingston, a farmer, in Putnam county, by whom she had eight children. He died some years ago, and the widow is now living in Chicago; John Walker married Virginia B. Turner, and now resides in Hennepin. He owns a farm adjoining the old homestead, as well as his home in the village. Their children died in infancy; Mary is the widow of Rev. James Templeton, and resides on the old home farm; Susanna, who died two years ago, was the wife of Captain James Campbell Moore, of Peoria ; Margaret first married Alexander Armstrong, and after his death, Gaspard L. Tetu, of Peoria; Samuel Gilmore manages the old homestead, and Elizabeth is the wife of Dr. J. T. Milling, of Peru.
After his father's death, Robert Leech took charge of the business, carrying on the home farm, and became the father of the family. In connection with his brother, Samuel G, he added to the original farm a tract of one hundred and sixty acres, and there devoted his attention to general farming and stock-raising with excellent success. He was very active in public matters, was a strong democrat in politics, and often served as a delegate to the conventions of his party. For some years he was supervisor of his township, and also held the offices of commissioner and school director. During the war he took an active and leading part in public affairs, and did much toward relieving the distress of many a soldier's widow.
Samuel G. Leech, the youngest son of the family, as he grew up aided his brother in the operation of the farm, and by purchase, became half owner of the place. For about ten years he dealt in grain at Hennepin, but since that time has given his entire attention to the cultivation and improvement of the farm. After the death of his brother he became sole owner.
The mother, whose death occurred in April, 1888, at the advanced age of ninety-three years, was ever devoted to the interests of her home and family, and was well preserved, retaining all her faculties to the last. A consistent member of the United Presbyterian church, she was a great Bible student and followed closely its teachings. She had a wide acquaintance throughout the county, and her house was ever open for the entertainment of her many friends, and she also took great pleasure in extending her hospitality to many noted men of the state.
In attending the various district and state conventions, Robert Leech had won the friendship of many prominent men, and at one time was a candidate for the legislature. He was a man of much natural ability and was well read, but never cared for discussion and did not force his views on others. He was never involved in litigation, but still maintained his rights, and made no enemies.
Rev. James Templeton, who married Miss Mary A. Leech, was a native of Union county, Pennsylvania, and died December 3, 1843, after a short married life of only three years and a half. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, and his boyhood was passed in his native state, and at Jefferson college at Cannonsburgh, he secured both his classical and theological education. He at once entered the work of the ministry in Ohio, and in 1839 came to Illinois, organizing the Associate church at Granville, Putnam county, which has now disbanded. He devoted his entire time and attention to the Master's cause, and was a most earnest and devout Christian. He lies buried at Union Grove cemetery. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Templeton — Samuel Rutherford, well and favorably known throughout the county, who died July 22, 1893, and Mary C. On coming to Putnam county, Mr. Templeton purchased several tracts of land, which are still owned by his heirs. His death was a sad loss not alone to the wife and children, but to the community and the church he loved so well.
Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois published in 1896, page 519.