W. J. Hunt, who is now living retired in a fine residence in Melvin, was born in Marshall county, Illinois, January 31, 1842, a son of Cornelius and Ann (Sidell) Hunt, who are mentioned at length on another page of this work in connection with the sketch of John S. Hunt. A brother of our subject, Jake, was shot while serving as a soldier in the Union army and died from the wound within seven days, thus sacrificing his life on the altar of his country.
W. J. Hunt acquired a common-school education and remained under the parental roof until 1862, when he enlisted for service in the Civil war as a member of the One Hundred and Fourth Illinois Infantry under Captain Ludington, being at that time twenty years of age. He was captured at Hartsville, Kentucky, but was held a prisoner for only ten days and during the course of his service in the Union army participated in the battles of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Stone River and in a number of skirmishes. Whether on the firing line or on the lonely picket line he was always found loyal to his duty and returned home with a most creditable military record, being very fortunate in that he had never been wounded. After receiving an honorable discharge from the army he returned to La Salle county, Illinois, where he was engaged in operating rented land for a period of seven years. He then purchased one hundred and twenty acres on section 36, Peach Orchard township. Ford county, and later added forty acres more, so that he now owns one hundred and sixty acres of rich and valuable farming land, part of which is located within the corporation limits of Melvin. As the years passed by he added many improvements to his property and met with a gratifying measure of success in his agricultural interests, the fields yielding their annual tribute of golden grain as a reward for the care and labor which he bestowed upon them. When his well directed energy and enterprise had brought him a competence he retired from active farm work and has since lived in a commodious and substantial residence on Hunt street in Melvin, in the enjoyment of the fruits of his former toil. While on the farm he made a specialty of raising draft horses, this branch of his business also bringing to him a good financial return.
In 1866 Mr. Hunt was joined in wedlock to Miss Mary E. Vanhorn, a daughter of Joseph and Ann Vanhorn, who were natives of Ohio and are now deceased. Mrs. Hunt was one of a family of three children and by her marriage has become the mother of two children: Anna Bell, who has passed away; and Jacob Clyde, who is married and makes his home in Melvin. The latter has a son, of whom the grandparents are very proud.
Mr. Hunt is a republican in his political views, while fraternally he is connected with the Knights of Pythias Lodge, No. 179, at Melvin, and maintains pleasant relations with his old army comrades through his membership in G. A. R. Post, No. 500. His wife is a valued member of Relief Corps, No. 159, and both she and her husband support the Methodist Episcopal church. Our subject is widely recognized as one of the pioneer agriculturists of the county, who aided in laying broad and deep the foundation for its present high state of development and progress, and whose aid and influence can ever be counted upon to further any movement or measure for the public good.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 666-667.

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