BIOGRAPHY - John McKinney

JOHN McKINNEY, a member of the firm of J. McKinney & Son, has been engaged in business in Piper City since 1869, and is one of the honored pioneers of the county. He is a native of the Emerald Isle. He was born in Cookstown, near Belfast, November 28, 1834, and is a son of Archibald McKinney, who was born and reared in the same locality, and was a merchant in the linen trade. He married Elizabeth McKinney, who bore the same name but was no relative, and all of the children who are yet living were born in Ireland. The family left their native land in 1847, sailing from Liverpool, and after six weeks arrived at Philadelphia. In 1857, the father came West and settled upon a tract of wild prairie land in Brenton Township, where he resided until eight years ago, since which time he has made his home in Piper City. He is now ninety years of age, but his wife died June 1, 1892, within three days of her eightieth birthday. He and his family are all members of the Presbyterian Church, and, in politics, he is a Republican. Three children are yet living: John, of this sketch; Mrs. Perry, who is now a widow and resides with her father, and Mrs. McLaughlin, of Piper City.

Our subject spent the first fourteen years of his life in his native land and then accompanied his parents to this country. He attended a night school in Philadelphia, and acquired a good English education. After serving a five-years' apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade, he worked in a brick yard, and, in 1856, emigrated to Illinois, and was employed on the Illinois Central Railroad, before the city of Paxton was established. In 1859, he came to Piper City, before it was laid out, where he has since made his home, and, in 1866, took charge of the lumber department of the business of J. A. Montelius. Three years later, he went into business for himself as a lumber-dealer, and in 1871 admitted his brother William into partnership. They opened a furniture and hardware store and the connection was continued until 1880, when the brother died, and Mr. McKinney was again alone in business until 1888, when he admitted his son Will to partnership. They deal in lumber, carry a large stock of hardware and furniture, and do an undertaking business, their sales the past year amounting to $37,000. From the beginning, their trade has constantly increased and they are well deserving the liberal patronage which they receive.

April 23, 1865, in this county, Mr. McKinney was united in marriage with Fredericka Walrich, who was born in Hanover, Germany, and, when a child, was brought to this country. They have five children living and have lost one: Lizzie R. was married June 16, 1892, to Rev. Amery S. Haskins; Will O., who attended Bryant & Stratton's Business College of Chicago, has for four years been a partner of his father and is an enterprising young business man; Kate M. graduated from the Onarga Academy in June, 1892; Jennie M. and Emily F. are at home; and Maggie died at the age of nine years.

Mr. McKinney cast his first Presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln and has since been a stalwart supporter of Republican principles. He has served as a delegate to the county conventions and is influential in its councils. He has held a number of local offices, including that of Township Collector, and was a member of the Village Board. He and his family belong to the Presbyterian Church of Piper City, of which he was a charter member, and of which he is now Trustee. He takes an active part in its growth and upbuilding, and has been liberal with his means in its support. Mr. McKinney came to Ford County before it was organized and has been prominently connected with its history. He deserves great credit for what he has done for the community and his name should be enrolled among the founders of Piper City. In his business career he has met with signal success, for which he has no one to thank but himself, as his prosperity has come as the reward of his own efforts.

Extracted 28 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 280-281.

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