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Biography - Willis Willeford

WILLIS WILLEFORD, for many years one of the wealthiest and most prosperous farmers in his section of the State, now retired from active agricultural duties, devotes his time to the management of his large landed property. A native of Bond County, Ill., born January 30, 1832, on the section where he now resides, he has, during his many years of useful and honored citizenship, held various offices of trust, whose duties he has ever discharged with unvarying and faithful ability.

Our subject is the son of James and Nancy (Price) Willeford, and a half-brother to Robert Willeford, a veteran of the Mexican War. The Willefords were Virginians, and. in the early days, large planters and slave-owners. The paternal grandfather was a brave and energetic man who fought in the Revolutionary War, and who lived to almost round out one hundred years. Nancy Price, the mother of our subject, was the daughter of David Price, who was born in Virginia, in 1770. His father, Jonathan Price, and paternal grandfather, also named Jonathan, were both natives of the Old Dominion. Later, some of the family found their way to Tennessee, from which State they emigrated to Illinois in 1827. The mother of our subject was born in 1800, and died in her Illinois home, in 1886. Willis Willeford was the only child of his mother who lived to mature years, but by a former marriage his father had four other children.

Our subject grew up on his father's homestead, where he has continued to reside all his life. He received more than an ordinary education for a farmer's son of those days. He has been a general agriculturist, stock-raiser and land speculator, but for the past few years has left the management of his large farm to his son John, with whom he lives. Mr. Willeford owns some twelve hundred acres of fine farming land, and occupies himself with buying and selling real estate. He is not, nor ever has been, an office-seeker, but he is a lifelong Democrat, and for twenty years has been a member of the School Board, and a School Trustee. Deeply interested in the advancement of educational work, our subject has been closely identified with the progress of intelligence and various needed reforms which have superseded the crude and ineffective methods of early times.

For over thirty-two years our subject has been Clerk of the Primitive Baptist Church, of which he is an exemplary and valued member. On February 22, 1855, he married Miss Polly A. Long, a daughter of the Rev. Peter Long, who for more than sixty years preached in this locality, and was also a teacher as well as an author of some note, having published many works of merit. Mrs. Willeford died May 5, 1873, leaving six children. John is the eldest, and was born March 3, 1856, and has been the recipient of a good education, which he has well improved. He is a devoted Christian, and has been a member of the Primitive Baptist Church for over seventeen years, and is the present Moderator of the church, and an acknowledged leader in all its religious and benevolent enterprises.

Mr. John Willeford manages his father's large farm as well as his own, which adjoins it, and conducts the business in a most thorough and efficient manner. He was married September 13, 1877, to Sarah E. Hunter, daughter of the oldest pioneer settler in Bond County, Marshall Hunter. This well-known and estimable lady had no children. The next child of our subject was his daughter Nancy E., who was born July 11, 1857, and is the wife of Robert M. Hunter, son of W. McLin Hunter, a successful farmer in Ripley Township. James L. was born February 23, 1859, and married September 8, 1879, to Miss Julia A. Clan ton, whose father was one of the pioneers of the county, and also lives in Ripley Township. Martha E., born March 6. 1863, was married June 27, 1881, to B. M. File, son of T. B. File, also one of Bond County's pioneers, who lives in Ripley Township. William Willis, born May 29, 1866, was united in marriage with Miss Rose Tabor, August 4, 1887; his wife is a daughter of James Tabor, of Madison County Ill. Mary J., born October 4, 1868, was married October 27, 1886, to T. S. File, son of J. N. File, one of the most prosperous farmers of Ripley Township. These sons and daughters of our subject, Willis Willeford, are widely known for their enterprise and general business ability, and exhibit in their character the traits of honest integrity and sterling worth which have ever distinguished the conduct in life of both father and mother.

Extracted 21 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 450-453.

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