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Biography - Robert Paisley

ROBERT C. PAISLEY, a prominent and wealthy farmer of Bond County, Ill., and a veteran of the late war, resides on his fine farm of six hundred and seventy acres, near the village of Donnellson. He is a member of one of the earliest families of this part of the State.

The subject of this sketch was born in La Grange Township, June 21, 1830. He was the son of William Paisley, who was a native of North Carolina. In Colonial times the Paisley family came from Scotland to America, and the great-grandfather took part in the Revolutionary War. John Paisley, the grandfather of our subject, was born in Virginia, but was reared in North Carolina, where he became a farmer and distiller. He came to Montgomery County, Ill., about 1823, where he died at the age of seventy years.

The father of our subject was one of the early settlers in Logan County, Ky., where he carried on the business of distilling. Hearing of the fertile lands toward the North, Mr. Paisley came on a prospecting tour on horseback, and being pleased with what he saw returned home, resolved to remove his family to this State. Accordingly, in 1818, the family belongings were packed in a great wagon, the farewells were given in the old North State, and they set out to find a new home. After various adventures they reached Illinois, where Mr. Paisley had entered Government land. Here he built a log cabin, and everything looked favorable for a residence, but soon afterward the cabin burned down with everything in it, and the family found themselves in a strange land with nothing but a team.

Indians were plentiful in the country at that time, and often called at his cabin in their hunting expeditions, as he was always friendly with them. There was never any danger of a famine, as deer and wild turkeys abounded. Wolves were so troublesome that it was with difficulty that he raised any chickens or sheep, and the wildcats killed his pigs; even bears were here at that time, several of which he killed with an old flintlock rifle. It must be remembered that there was no mill where his corn could be ground whenever the supply of meal ran low, and he was obliged to beat it in a mortar to get it fine enough for bread. The nearest market was St. Louis, and, as there were no railroads, all the produce had to be hauled by the farmers, which always meant a trip from six to eight days, with camping out at night.

Mr. Paisley owned nearly five hundred acres of land at the time of his death, which occurred in 1880, and upon this he had raised great quantities of grain, and a large number of horses and cattle, as he was a hard worker and never spared himself. In religious matters, for many years he was a consistent member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In his early days he was an old-line Whig, a great Henry Clay man, and at the time of his death a stanch Republican. The mother of our subject, Nancy Nelson, a native of North Carolina, bore her husband ten children, all of whom grew to maturity. They are: James, Malinda, Minerva, Harry F., Nancy, Elizabeth, John N., Robert C., Jewell and William. She had held a membership in the Cumberland Church for many years, was the best of women, and died at the age of fifty-eight years, lamented by family and friends.

Our subject was reared here and educated in the early schools of this vicinity. He was obliged to walk two miles, but the advantages were only offered for three months in the year. Mr. Paisley became something of a hunter, and has slain deer where his home now is. At the age of twenty-one years he began taking care of himself, and in 1852, with thirty companions, he made a trip across the plains to California, and remained there three years. His mining in El Dorado County, Cal., was fairly successful, and he returned home by water. After this trip into the outside world, he located on this farm, in 1857, and in April of that year married Margaret Libbie, a native of Vermont, who was engaged in teaching school. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Paisley, viz.: Frank, Annie and Horace.

Mr. Paisley is a man of large means, and one of the wealthiest land-holders in the county. He has six hundred and seventy acres, of which seventy are' in timber, and he has lately sold two hundred and forty acres which were in his possession. His stock-raising and farming have been on an extensive scale. During the Civil War he enlisted in Company D, Fifty-ninth Illinois Infantry, in October, 1863, and served under Gen. Thomas. He took part in the battles of Franklin and Nashville, and was in the Texas campaign until the close of the war, being mustered out in the spring of 1865.

Mr. Paisley and his wife are highly valued members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In political opinions he favors the Republican party, and has held the office of Township Trustee ever since the close of the war. He has been a very successful man, and has always worked hard to obtain and keep what property he has.

Extracted 20 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 403-404.

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