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Biography - William Peach

WILLIAM PEACH, one of the most successful and prominent farmers of this locality, was born in Randolph County, Ill., October 25, 1826. He has worked hard, and has accumulated much of this world's store, and now owns over four hundred acres of the rich land of the Prairie State, from which his yields of wheat are so large that a stranger might ask in wonder, "How can beings starve, when for adequate labor the soil of this beautiful land yields like this?"

The father of our subject was William Peach, who was a native of Newbury, Vt., and was born October 20, 1800; his grandfather's birth took place in Marblehead, Mass., May 31, 1777. The great-grandfather of our subject, named William, was one of two brothers who came from England in Colonial times and settled in Massachusetts. The grandfather was a sailor by profession, and when he tired of the sea, he made himself a home and adopted farming for the rest of his life. His first settlement was in 1817, at Marietta, Ohio, to which place he removed his family by wagon, and there he lived until 1820, at which time he joined other neighbors and moved to Illinois. The trip was made down the Ohio on a flat-boat, and then on the Mississippi until the party reached Horse Prairie, in Randolph County, and at this place Mr. Peach took up Government land and resided until his death, December 11, 1822.

The father of our subject was appointed Administrator of his father's estate, and finally settled it to the satisfaction of all, and he there lived until about 1829, when he removed into St. Clair County, and went to farming. At one time he owned five hundred acres of land, and conducted a sawmill. His beginning was poor, but industry gave him returns, and as he was a hard-working man, he became very successful in age. His political convictions made of him an old-line Whig, and he took deep interest in all that went on around him in public life. For many years he was Justice of the Peace, and was considered a man of probity and honor. His death occurred in March, 1874, and he was mourned by his relatives and the members of the Baptist Church, of which for many years he had been a valued member.

The mother of our subject was Priscilla Simmons, who was a native of Maine, and was born March 29, 1801. Her death occurred August 20, 1835, she having been the mother of four children: Lois, Rebecca, Sarah and William. The second marriage of Mr. Peach, Sr., which united him with Elizabeth Grotts, resulted in the following children: Samuel, John, Charles, Elizabeth and Eliza A. The second wife died and a third time Mr. Peach married. This wife was Almira Simmons, who was the sister of his first wife, but no children were born of this union.

Our subject was only three or four years old when the family removed to St. Clair County, and at that time the droves of deer were familiar sights and the wolves were numerous enough to require the careful shutting of the sheep pen to keep the animals from the stock. An occasional Indian wandering over the old hunting-grounds would appear and beg for food, but our subject never saw any savage ones. Their race had been about exterminated in this section, or driven toward the Western mountains, where they now occasionally make a feeble attempt at rebellion. The old log schoolhouse, which in some remote places has been left standing as a memento of the past, was the university which our subject was permitted to attend, and well does he remember the slab benches and the ingenious contrivance of a plank resting against the wall, supported by pins of wood, upon which the luckless little ones placed their writing, books. Here, with their quill pens they learned to form the pot-hooks, and then the letters of the alphabet, and for three months in the year these privileges were extended.

At the age of twenty-one, our subject was a man capable of managing for himself, and he took charge of the sawmill, and conducted it for a few years. He cleared up a farm and worked it for some time, and then his health failed, probably from too hard labor at too early an age. O'Fallon needed a general store, and this seemed a fine opening, and he purchased a stock and opened up there. For five years he conducted a successful business, but when the war broke out all business stagnated, and he sold out and returned to farming, buying one hundred and sixty acres near Lebanon. This he improved and worked until November, 1880, when he sold and bought his present farm.

The first marriage of Mr. Peach look place July 12, 1849, to Miss Malinda Leach, who was a native of St. Clair County, Ill., and six children were born to them, who were William (deceased), Alice, Theodore, Mary, Asa and Horace. His wife was taken away August 16, 1864. His second marriage was with Miss Elizabeth Peach, March 15, 1866. Her birth occurred in New Hampshire, June 3, 1828, and she came to Indiana when twenty-eight years old, and in 1866 came to St. Clair County, Ill. One child, Carrie, has resulted from this marriage.

Mr. Peach is a large land owner, having two hundred and thirty acres here, and one hundred and seventy in Smithboro, which latter he rents. He has carried on mixed farming, but this year he rents the most of the land, upon which he has made grain his principal product. Although Mr. Peach is a Baptist, and his wife a Congregationalist, perfect harmony reigns, both being good Christian people according to their own ideas of right. In politics, Mr. Peach is a Republican, and has been very prominent in public affairs, and was nominated for Representative in 1890, but in the general defeat of the party through the State he did not get elected. For twenty years he has held some school office, and now holds a membership with the Masonic order, in which he is highly regarded.

Extracted 04 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 171-172.

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