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Biography - Robert MacKay

ROBERT MACKAY, one of the old settlers of Bond County, now residing on section 17, has been very successful in life and has deserved all that kind fortune can bestow. Robert Mackay was born here February 14, 1829, and was the son of Alexander C. Mackay, a native of Kentucky, born March 8, 1792. The paternal grandfather bore the immortal Scotch name of Walter, and was a native of Scotland, where he married and had several children born to him. He came to America and first settled in Virginia, but later went into Kentucky, about 1790, and there, near Richmond, occurred the birth of the father of the subject of this notice. At that time the Indians were very troublesome and made the families of the settlers feel unsafe. He died in Kentucky at the advanced age of eighty years.

The father of our subject lived in Kentucky until he became a young man, and then spent about eight years in Alabama, and with a brother learned the trade of a wheelwright. After this he traveled for some time through Texas, Arkansas, Indian Nation, and finally located in Wayne County, Ill., where he married. In 1825, he reached this place and entered eighty acres from the Government, in section 7, and there developed a farm. At this time the Indians were very troublesome, and song and story are full of the tales of the savage depredations of the natives, and thrilling stories are told of those who escaped by miraculous interventions; or of the captures which resulted in turning white children into savages after a life among them. Deer were still abundant, and the howlings of the wolves could be heard at night, but our subject never used his musket for sport.

Alexander Mackay worked here at his trade of carpenter and wheelwright, and many of the buildings that he erected at that time are still standing, testifying to the thoroughness of his labor. At the time of his death he owned two hundred and forty acres of land, although he had begun with nothing. The religious denomination to which he clung was the Scotch Presbyterian, in which faith he was firm as a rock, while in politics he was a Whig. He was one of the volunteers who went out in the Black Hawk War, where he was tomahawked.

The mother of our subject was Mary Carson, and her home had been in the State of Kentucky. She became the mother of seven children, as follows: Mary, John, Eleanor, Robert, Alexander, William and Joseph; of these our subject is the only remaining member. His beloved mother died February 26, 1844, aged forty-two years and twenty-two days. His father survived until July 14, 1856, when he died, aged sixty-three years, three months and twenty-eight days.

The maternal grandfather, John Carson, was born in Ireland, where he married. After this event he came to the United States and located in the Carolinas, but later went into Kentucky, and later still into Wayne County, Ill. He settled here about 1826, but subsequently removed to Barry County, Mo., where he died at an advanced age. By occupation he was a farmer, though he also practiced medicine occasionally. Our subject was reared here and received the rudiments of an education in the pioneer log schoolhouse that every old settler remembers so well. Although this temple of learning was primitive in the extreme, yet here were taught the fundamental principles which could be applied in after-life. The Indians had not all passed away in his boyhood, and one of his duties in those days was to watch the sheep by day, and to pen them up securely at night, in order to protect them from the depredations of the hungry wolves, which, it seemed to his childish imagination, howled around the cabin by night by the score. At the age of twenty-four years, our subject married Miss Margaret L. Sugg, November 17, 1853, and of this union the following children were born: Mary, who married J. T. Corrie; George C.; Emily, who married John C. Jackson, Jr.; Eleanor J., who married Lemuel Hunter; Sarah E., Henry, William, Alvin, Ollie, Walter and Mattie, who are deceased.

After his marriage, our subject settled here, and has now a farm of three hundred acres, all in one body, and all improved except sixty acres, which are in timber. He has carried on mixed farming and has handled a good amount of stock of all kinds. He has himself done a great amount of grubbing and has cleared up and improved one hundred and fifty acres of land, but the hard work has broken him down and he has not been able to do much personally for the past five or six years. In politics, our subject is a Republican, and served his county as Commissioner from 1875 to 1878, and for one term was Coroner of the county. For a number of years our subject was Township Trustee and for twenty-five years was a School Director, so actively did he always work in educational matters. His life has been crowned with success because he has earned it, and he now enjoys the respect and esteem of all with whom he has become acquainted.

Extracted 04 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 164-167.

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