Marshall County


William CHALCRAFT, a wide-awake, progressive farmer residing on section 16, Bennington township, Marshall county, was born on the 20th of July, 1832, in Surrey, England, but when less than five years old was brought to America by his parents, James and Mary (EAD) CHALCRAFT. After a long and tedious voyage they landed in New York, whence they made their way to Indiana by way of Pittsburg, and down the Ohio river to Mr. Vernon, Indiana. At New Harmony the father secured work by the month, where they remained for two years, and then came by team to Edwards county, Illinois, where he became a land owner and spent his remaining days. After obtaining his naturalization papers he supported the democratic party. Seven children accompanied the parents to the new world, and here the family circle was increased by the birth of two more, all of whom lived to be grown and married, while six are still living.

Until attaining his majority, William CHALCRAFT remained upon the home farm with his parents, in the meantime securing a fair common-school education. On starting out in life for himself he worked by the month for nine dollars, and later his wages were increased to fourteen. With the money he was able to save he purchased a horse, and in company with his brother operated rented land. In 1853 his father died, and two years later he took charge of the home place, where he remained until 1857, when he went to Nebraska. At the end of eighteen months he returned to Illinois a poorer but wiser man. It was in 1859 that he located in Marshall county, where he rented a farm and also purchased a tract of wild land, which he developed and improved, cultivating the same for about fourteen years after his marriage. He then purchased the eighty-acre tract on which he still lives, and erected thereon a good and substantial dwelling, and made other useful and valuable improvements.

On the 18th of February, 1869, Mr. CHALCRAFT was joined in wedlock with Miss May COLYER, a native of Edwards county, and a daughter of Edward and Jane (THREAD) COLYER, who were born in England, but both came to Illinois in the spring of 1818, and were married before it became a state. Mrs. CHALCRAFT was given excellent school privileges, completing her education in a select school in Salem, Marion county, Illinois, and for four years she successfully engaged in teaching in Edwards county. By her marriage she has become the mother of two children: Anna B. was born in Bennington township, Marshall county, and after attending the district schools took a two years’ course in the commercial department of Eureka college, from which she graduated. She is now following teaching, as is also her sister, Florence M., who was similarly educated.

Mr. CHALCRAFT cast his first presidential ballot for James Buchanan, but has since been a republican in politics. Being endowed with a remarkable amount of energetic spirit and with good business tact, he has, since coming here, succeeded in achieving a fair amount of success. His place evinces, both in its culture and in the good and substantial buildings erected thereon, the diligence and thrift of the owner, and prosperity seems to wait upon his steps. He and his wife and daughters are all members of the Christian church, of which he is deacon. They are all extremely active in religious matters, giving largely of their time and means to the furtherance of the spread of the gospel, are Sunday school workers, and the daughters are prominent members of the Christian Endeavor society. They hold a high place in the estimation of all who know them, and certainly deserve honorable mention in this volume.

A patriotic, loyal citizen, Mr. CHALCRAFT enlisted in 1864 in Company C, Eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and was in the service for over a year, or until hostilities had ceased. He was in the battles of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, near Mobile bay, was on patrol duty for about a month, and was then sent to Texas, where he was stationed on the expiration of his term. He was honorably discharged and mustered out at New Orleans.

Extracted May 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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