With the industrial interests of Magnolia William Henry SIMONTON has long been prominently identified, having for several years successfully engaged in blacksmithing at that place. A native of Illinois, he was born in Livingston county on the 24th of September, 1854, and is a son of William K. and Jane (BAZORE) SIMONTON, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Indiana. On leaving the Buckeye state the father removed with his parents to Indiana, where he grew to manhood and was married. There he followed the cooper’s trade until his removal to Reading, Livingston county, Illinois, where he purchased land of the Illinois Central Railroad Company and turned his attention to farming. In 1859 he removed to Marshall county and settled on the KESTER place not far from Magnolia, but the following year removed to the village, where he continued to make his home until called to his final rest in 1892. In 1864, during the dark days of the Civil war, he was drafted and served for little over a year as a private of Company D, Eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry under Captain J. B. JONES and Colonel J. A. SHEETS. He was mustered into the United States service October 4, 1864, and honorably discharged October 3, 1865. The regiment was assigned to the Third Brigade, Logan’s Division, Seventeenth Corps, Army of the Tennessee, and participated in the following engagements: Charleston, Missouri, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, Port Gibson, Raymond, Champion Hills, Milliken’s Bend, siege of Vicksburg, Jackson, Brownsville, Meridian, and siege of Mobile, including Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley, this regiment being the first to plant its colors on the earthworks. Later is was in Texas on guard duty. May future generations never forget the debt of gratitude they owe to the brave boys in blue who on land and on sea volunteered their services during the dark days of the Rebellion from 1861 to 1865, and may our motto always be “Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable.”
The mother of our subject died in 1902. William H. is the oldest of their three children, the others being Sylvia, now the wife of William GARVER, living at Dubuque, Iowa, and Abraham, whose home is in Michigan City, Indiana.
William H. SIMONTON spent his early life in Magnolia and at the age of twelve years started out to make his own way in the world, being employed by the month on a farm until August 13, 1876, when he entered the service of Frank OLMSTED, a blacksmith of La Salle, Illinois, with whom he learned the trade of blacksmithing and carriage-repairing. Returning to Magnolia in 1880, he worked at his trade with his father and in connection with blacksmithing also engaged in fence building. On the 12th of October of that year, however, he purchased the shop which he now carries on and has since engaged in blacksmithing, horseshoeing, and carriage-repairing on his own account. He has a gasoline engine with furnishes power for grinding plows and disc harrows. He also has what is called a Schau cold tire setter, which enables him to set tires without removing them or taking off the wheel, being able to set the tires on the four wheels of a buggy in forty minutes, and his record for single tire is seven minutes. He is an expert workman and has built up an excellent trade.
On the 12th of October, 1881, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. SIMONTON and Miss Laura JOHNSON, a native of Putnam county, and they have become the parents of four children, namely: Willetta, the wife of Dawson JUDD, who is living on a farm in Marshall county; and Burl, Carl and Goldie, all at home.
The republican party finds in Mr. SIMONTON a stanch supporter of its principles and he takes a very active and prominent part in local politics, having served on the village board continuously with the exception of one year since 1886. He is also serving his second term as a member of the school board and does all in his power to promote the moral, intellectual or material welfare of his town and county. Socially he is a charter member of the Modern Woodmen of America at Magnolia and also belongs to the Mystic Workers, while his wife is a member of the Royal Neighbors. They stand high in public regard and have a host of friends throughout the community. From 1892 until 1894 Mr. SIMONTON served as administrator of his father’s estate. He is a skilled workman and as a blacksmith has met with most excellent success, having accumulated some property, including a nice home in the south part of the village and also two other residences there.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.